The Alternative To Kitsch – 100 Years of Intelligent Design

Posted: February 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

The Bauhaus, simply put, was a German school of art and design that opened in 1919 and closed in 1933. It was also very much more than that. It was the most influential and famous design school that has ever existed. It defined an epoch. It became the pre-eminent emblem of modern architecture and design. The name has become an adjective as well as a noun – Bauhaus style, Bauhaus look. And now it is coming up for the centenary of its founding, which shows both that what was called the “modern movement” is now part of history and that its influence is very much still around us.

ON APRIL 11, 1933, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe stepped off the tram in the Steglitz neighborhood in southwest Berlin, crossed a bridge and found that his place of work had been surrounded by the Gestapo. The Bauhaus, where he taught and served as the director, had occupied an old telephone factory building there since 1932. The school first opened in Weimar in 1919, as a place for uniting craftsmanship with the arts in the service of architecture; over time, it changed, becoming more about uniting art with industrial techniques. Once Mies took over the directorship in 1930, it became almost purely a school for architecture.

But this instability, even vagueness, of purpose helped propagate its influence. In just over a decade, it had become a byword for modernity in design, a symbol of a progressive age across the world, from New York to Calcutta. The Nazis perceived the Bauhaus to be, along with atonal music and Expressionist painting, yet another specimen of the globe-spanning Jewish Bolshevik conspiracy they sought to eliminate. They weren’t wrong to intuit a basic radicalism at the heart of the Bauhaus project: Uniting all of its multiple tendencies and impulses was an attempt to put art and architecture to use as social regeneration for the world’s working classes.

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