The Bauhaus style is one of the most recognised and well-known architecture movements in history. It became a worldwide phenomenon, representing the rejection of the popular bourgeois style (which was incredibly popular at the time), and instead, welcomed practical, honest and contemporary design. Some of the most famous examples of modern architecture and furniture were subsequently born during this era.
The Bauhaus movement not only took the architecture and industrial design community by storm, it sent waves through all design disciplines including engineering, graphic design and art. It was also during this time that the most famous design related quote was coined: 'Form ever follows function'. This statement is universally recognised as the ideology behind modernism.
Bauhaus architecture is easily recognised by features such as exposed steel and simple, clean geometric forms. The design process pays homage to the motto 'Less is more'. Generally speaking, the overall shape of a typical building is square, using a very limited colour range. The internal design of the house mimics the exterior; open plan with little decoration and functional furniture.
Bauhaus architecture lacks ornamentation; there are no eaves, cornices or intricate finer details. No element of the design, internal or external is to be purely decorative. It must serve a purpose.
The Bauhaus school was founded in Weimar, Germany in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius. His vision, as outlined in his manifesto, was to have students explore a range of art and humanities subjects with the aim of unifying these disciplines. Gropius wanted architects, artists and designers from differing socio-economic backgrounds to be able to use their hands and work with steel, wood, pottery and paint so as to turn 'art into industry'. Controversially, the school did not offer architecture as a subject until 1927. The main goal was to have students design products, both large and small scale, that could be easily mass produced.
The school insisted students only use primary colours in their palettes and where possible, designed with only simple geometric shapes in mind. Spaces were to be functional, their appearance was to be considered last.
Bauhaus students were taught to be true to the materials they used in their designs. This meant when using steel or wood, the original finish or grain was to remain exposed and unaltered. The main rule which was pivotal in the design process was to ensure the furniture could be easily mass or factory produced. This measure was solely responsible for the slick, modern appearance of all furniture designed and manufactured in the Bauhaus period.
The most notable furniture pieces of the Bauhaus era were the Wassily Chair, the first example of tubular steel piping to be used in a decorative form, the Barcelona Chair, known for it's dimpled leather design and gently curved steel base and The Nesting Tables which cleverly stacked five tables into one. The designs have been used as a vernacular for countless articles of furniture that we see in production today.
The Bauhaus mission was clear; to provide an economical, practical and artistic style that was interchangeable and could be recognised on a global scale. The clean, minimal and geometric style can still be seen today in both residential and commercial buildings, as well as in art galleries and on street signs.
The Bauhaus movement hugely impacted 20th century architecture and design, more so than any style that came before it. The legacy of the school and its staff still continues today, as many designers still employ the same design principles and rules taught almost a century ago.