2019 marks 100 years exactly since the Bauhaus School in Germany began what would become one of the single most influential movements in the history of modernist art and design. Originating out of late 19th century fears about the soullessness of modern manufacturing, the Bauhaus style sought to reunite fine art and craftsmanship with functional design; creating practical works — with an artistic soul!
Though only operational for a brief 14 years (closing in 1933 under Nazi pressure), the Bauhaus existed long enough to introduce compelling new ideas about everything from artistic processes and aesthetics, to the very ways in which we think about and characterize ‘fine art’. Most significantly maybe, was the intellectual dismantling of the Renaissance-era hierarchy of the arts; as Bauhaus teachers revered applied crafts (think: architecture, interior design, furniture and textile design, woodworking, etc..), and placed them on par with more traditional mediums like painting and sculpture.
To understand these currents of thought, is to understand the inspiration behind so many of the iconic works left behind by the Bauhaus faculty, and their students. For example, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German architect and furniture designer (and final director of the Bauhaus before its closure), would go on to produce iconic pieces like his Barcelona Chair; a wide, tufted leather chair with criss-crossing, S-curved steel legs— now not only a touchstone of modernism, but a personal favorite of ours, used often in our home staging and interior design installations.
The Bauhaus also gave us Marcel Breuer, whose Model B3 (Wassily) chair became a sleek reimagining of the classic 19th century club chair— its’ ultra-modern form shaped from stainless-steel curved tubes (inspired by the curved handlebars of his bicycle!), and taut leather fabric panels… Also a fixture of our home staging inventory.
If you ask us, something magical happened at the Bauhaus… Something magical, and special, and LASTING that propelled us forward and into the modern age. The Bauhaus aesthetic was simple, streamlined- almost industrial in design, but it contained something so spirited, even the Nazi’s couldn’t snuff it out.
And so, a century later, the Bauhaus influence endures; in our own work and beyond.