The Vorkurs : Design at the Bauhaus
In this reading, we are exposed to some of Alber’s design pedagogy at the Bauhaus. He was without a doubt a progressive educator, having introduced the concepts of constructivism and de stijl. Although the works produced as a result of his classroom methodologies seemed more like works of engineering and art, his careful training allowed his students to develop a design process which was not merely guided by the desire to express, but was also founded in planning to a meticulous extent, expansive exploration and thoughtfulness in materiality, so that these creations could exist with economical aptness. It can be said that his approach on learning by doing encouraged independent and open-ended experimentation. Till this very day, this method of learning in higher-level institutions is seen as key to developing design skills as well as analytical and critical thinking in students.
He was interested in simplifying things. Through restrictions, he enabled his students to explore ways and means of being creative, of which wouldn’t be possible had they been given the freedom to use anything they wanted to. As such, he thought them how to see what was around them and to utilize these things most efficiently, creating innovative designs.
Materiality was a key focus of his teachings. I found it very interesting how he would push his students to dig deeper in studying the material properties, characteristics and surfaces so as to come up with design solutions that would combine materials, working with their properties, rather than merely building with them. Even in exploring the external appearance of a material, one could possibly discover so many more hidden possibilities the substance could possess.
In exploring material, he stressed on the need of being economical, on labor and budget. Albers definition of the measure of art was the ratio of effort to