The Bauhaus is certainly the most influential movement in design in the last century. Actually, without the Bauhaus and its teachers and students, comprised of not only engineers or businessmen but also artists, we wouldn't see the flat-roofed buildings, the smooth white Braun kitchen appliances, among other things. The Bauhaus was founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany, with the utopian determination to change art education and society as a whole. It is relevant here to mention the Belgian Henry van de Velde, who had founded the School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar in 1907, where the young architect Gropius became a brilliant figure. It won't be exaggerated to say that van de Velde paved the way for the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus could be seen as a continuation of the work of the school founded in Weimar which encouraged the employment of designers in industry in an attempt to raise the standard of design in German industry (Whitford p. 20).
As the political conditions changed in Germany the Bauhaus was obliged to adapt its direction, adopting more realistic goals. The imperatives of technical civilization made it necessary for the school to rethink its "Romantic notions of artistic self-expression" and in 1923 it made important changes to its program, which was a sort of a new start under the new principles unifying art and technology. In this new Bauhaus technology was employed in designing the products, in both the functional and aesthetic aspects. In 1925 the school was forced to move to Dessau, where it started to become renowned, after Weimar's new nationalist government stopped its financial support. Gropius resigned and Hannes Meyer took control in 1928, the latter also left two years later. Political differences again made the school leave Dessau to Berlin in 1932, and it remained there until it was closed on the orders of the Nazi regime in 1933.
The manifesto that accompanied the launch of the Bauhaus in 1919 called for the unification of art and architecture to "combine everything--architecture and sculpture and painting--in a single form which will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith". The Bauhaus manifesto asserts that the ultimate aim of all creative activity is a building. It is then no wonder that all the Bauhaus directors were architects. This however does not mean that their architectural concepts were convergent. On the contrary, they had very different conception of building. "The names Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe stand for individually structured educational concepts." The school set three main objectives, which then shaped its directions. The first objective was to rescue all the arts from the isolation they were in and to combine the skills of craftsmen, painters and sculptors in cooperative projects". The second objective was to "elevate the status of the crafts to that which the fine arts' enjoyed then". And, the third objective was to "establish constant contact with the leaders of the crafts and industries of the country" (Whitford p. 11-12). The Bauhaus was quite effective in achieving the objectives that it had set for itself; nevertheless the task was not easy at all. What now seems to us a "coherent legacy of a homogenous program" only began to come together with the move to Dessau in 1925. Before that there had been a sort of roughness between the pure and applied arts, arguments over the agenda of the new institution, and rivalries among the teachers. However, the resignation of Gropius in 1928 started other periods of instability and with the founding artists giving the chance to more technocratic leaders to spread their ideas. These leaders chose to not cede to the machine but to "design for it and with it appropriately" . However, the designs, which were generally craft-made, rarely got beyond the prototype stage. The focus was...
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Whitford, Frank. Bauhaus. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2003.
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