BAUHAUS | The Design School That Changed Our Lives

Nowadays it is common to hear many people using the word ‘design’ very vaguely, phrases such as “this The is a design store” or “I have just bought a design armchair for my living room.” The word ‘design’ is part of our collection of fancy verbal resources in our vocabulary, and the truth is that it comes very handy to Design describe something that is different and unique, hence exclusive. But behind this word, there is a deeper meaning, a story of people that have contributed to the birth and evolution of design as a profession. A story that dates back to the past century and that has Elegance School continuously evolved until today.

The Elegance Celebrates One Hundred Years Of Design 

Design was born during the rise of the industrial revolution with the aim of improving products of our daily use. Design emerged with the convergence of the artists and craftsmen skills. Artists would provide beauty to the objects and craftsmen would contribute with their ancestral technical knowledge, known as tekné. William Morris is one of the most important names and pioneer in the history of modern design. He believed that every human construction should be first “projected,” then “thought out” and finally “reflected upon.” Good design is, therefore, the union between the art that addresses the spirit (art) and the art that aims One Changed to solve the needs of the human body (crafts).

“(…) And first I must ask you to extend the word art beyond those matters which are consciously works of art, to take in not only painting and sculpture, and architecture, but the shapes and colours of all household goods, nay, even the arrangement of the fields for tillage and pasture, the management of towns and of our highways of all kinds; in a word, to extend it to the aspect of Years Our the externals of our life.” (William Morris, 1883)

The intention behind design was bringing order to the chaos generated by the abundance of discoveries in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and the appearance of new materials and new production techniques. Mechanization took control of the world facilitating automatized production. Consequently, there was a need to create a new professional profile that would lead the changes consciously. The practical, aesthetic, symbolic and ethical function of objects were put at the service of all humans through design and the designer, who worked from the initial idea upon its execution going through three areas: concepts, tools and projects.

However, such a new profession was not consolidated until the birth of one of the most important design schools of the twentieth century: the Bauhaus (1919-1933). In the German city of Weimar, later transferred to the city of Dessau, a visionary named Walter Gropius, founded a school of design that would be decisive for our lives.

The Bauhaus brought together all forms of artistic disciplines as one united creative expression such as architecture, painting, sculpture, applied arts and crafts to provide us with a model of life that nowadays we all enjoy. A new professional profile was created that united art and craftsmanship, beauty and technique, with professors that were artists and artisans. The first generation that graduated the Bauhaus became the first official designers of the 20th century.

The Sommerfeld house (1920), the Haus am Horn (1923), the Metal Prototype Haus (1926), the Dessau-Törten Housing Estate (1926-1928) are some of the houses that Bauhaus’s apprentices, officers and teachers created in collaboration with main German industries such as Osram, Junkers, AEG, Siemens, Jajag, Triton Werke Hamburg, Ausgussbecken, among others. The appearance of innovative appliances design, installations of water, gas and electricity, linear kitchen organization model, functional and aesthetically attractive furniture were the result of the desire of adapting the language of products and materials to the new modern world. In fact, the Bauhaus contributed to the contemporary development of housing: from the simplest domestic utensil all the way to the habitable house itself, finished in all its details -as Walter Gropius explains in his manifesto published in 1925 “Principles of Bauhaus production.”

In the Bauhaus were found the pioneer avant-garde movements such as expressionism, neoplasticism, constructivism and Dada. Professionals in the Bauhaus were trained to change the formal language of everyday products. Finally, that what William Morris had sought so much after was achieved: the union of art that is directed to the spirit, and that which is aimed at solving the needs of the body, in each of the products of daily use.

The Bauhaus went through several pedagogical phases; expressionist, formal, functional, analytical and architectural led by professors such as Johanes Itten, Lotar Schreyer, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy, Adolf Mey- er, Mies van de Rohe or collaborators like Theo van Doesburg. From this vision of pedagogy we have inherited the “Theories of the Interaction of the colors” of Josef Albers, theories of the forms such as “Point and Line on the plane” of Wassily Kandinsky, theories of photography as the “New Vision” of László Moholy-Nagy, elementarism that reduced the products designed by the Bauhaus to the combination of three basic colors and three simple geometric shapes: triangle-yellow, circle-blue, square-red.

The legacy of the Bauhaus has been very important for our lives. Thanks to this school, some of the laws of visual communication of the 20th century and a modern model of life were established; that only came into crisis after the irruption of postmodernity, the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe neighborhood in 1972 or the criticism of writers like Tom Wolfe in “From Bauhaus to Our House.”

In celebration of its 100, if you want to experience the roots of design, we encourage you to visit The Bauhaus Archive Museum of Design and the original Bauhaus School of Design in Dessau which “The legacy of the Bauhaus has will bring you the awareness of how been very important for our lives.

Words & photography by Toni Manach, Philosopher & Professor of Design at URL – ESDi