Bauhaus - The Invention of The Modern Aesthetic
(Bau - build/construct)
(Haus - house)
The Bauhaus was the brain-child of architect Walter Gropius. Inspired by the philosophy of a less successful movement called The Werkbund. Which had tried in vain to integrate art, economics and engineering. However Gropius understood the flaw in the plan: Designers generally had little or no understanding of materials, basic engineering requirements and economic constraints and drivers. Engineers lacked the training for design, and so there were few who could successfully integrate these skills as The Werkbund had envisioned.
What was needed to achieve these worthy goals, was a school that would teach all three disciplines: Art and Design, Engineering and Economics. A school that would in turn cultivate a synthesis of professional skills, in its students. In 1919 Gropius was able to arrange a merger of two existing schools The Weimar Art Academy, and The Weimar Arts & Crafts School , ultimately forming ‘The Bauhaus Institute’.
Just as Gropius and The Werkbund before him, had imagined - this combination proved to be tremendously successful, infusing a multitude of related design disciplines with a new vibrancy and vision.
Not only did the school bring together these skill sets and disciplines, it also encouraged a more general principle of aesthetic combination. What resulted was at once a fascination with ethnic designs and forms, and simultaneously the invention of modernism.
Perhaps the factors which had the most important influence on the aesthetic developments of the school and its students - was the development and sudden availability of a wide range of completely new materials: Tubular and flat section steel, composite metals and of course plastics. These created a range of possibilities that had never even been conceived of before. These materials were comparatively light and inexpensive, many were easier to work with and were more flexible than wood and basic metals.
The inner circle of Bauhaus teachers and students includes Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe, as well as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. There is also a group of contemporary architects and designers who have become synonymous with The Bauhaus movement, although they never attended or taught at the school. Many did however know at least one Bauhaus member.
Le Corbusier worked with Mies Van der Rohe and Walter Gropius while apprenticed to Peter Behrens in Berlin; Harry Bertoia encountered Gropius at his school in the US, and also worked with Charles and Ray Eames.
These designers devised a huge range of products - encompassing both fine art, industrial design and architecture, producing among other things furniture, silverware, ironwork, lamps, jewelry, ornaments, even fonts, and of course both residential and commercial architecture.
This was the dawn of the modern age of design. One might even say that all contemporary design owes something to the great names produced by the Bauhaus, or at very least to the principles for which it stood.