Bauhaus

The movement, not the band.

This is one of my favorite styles in the world of design and one of my favorite stories, even though the ending is rather sad. The Bauhaus was an arts and craft school founded in Germany in between the wars. What started in 1919 was a movement, philosophy and a school dedicated to unifying art and design. The main emphasis was placed on designing buildings, furniture, textiles and other items with a high level of functionality versus frivolous ornamentation. Sound familiar?

Bauhaus in the city of Dessau

The word Bauhaus means “house of construction” or how about, more loosley, “School of Building.” Even though the school was founded by an architect, it had no architecture program during it’s first years of existence. It was conceived by Walter Gropius, one of the grandaddies of Modern. Hannes Meyer, a self described Marxist, who believed a person’s sex life should help define how their residence was designed served as the second director who was then followed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the other granddaddy of Modern. Mies ran the school until it was messed up and eventually shut down by guess who? The Nazis.

Although Hitler was no fan of modernism, he acutually approved a series of service stations along the autobahn that were designed by Mies. Ooops. Hitler considered the school to be a hotbed of communist intellectualism so they took it over and eventually dissolved it. The school existed in three German cities, Weimar, Dessau (seen above) and Berlin. The three different directors did not see eye to eye on things and political infighting amongst the intelligentsia also contributed to it’s demise.

As World War II erupted the school splintered and it’s influence spread around the world. Gropius ended up at the Harvard Graduate School of Design along with his buddy and other major design influencer, Marcel Breuer who designed a chair you know and also the HUD building. I.M. Pei and Philip Johnson were students at Harvard. Mies went to Chicago and went to work inventing Modernism. Bauhaus then retired to Tel Aviv, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, which boasts over 4000 Bauhaus-era buildings mainly due to creative types fleeing Nazi Germany and settling in Israel.

The End.

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