It’s a long way from the old, small city of Weimar, Germany, to the beachy shores of Australia, and the architectural differences are perhaps even greater. But 100 years ago a design movement born out of central Europe would reach the furthest reaches of the world – and you may have examples of it sitting in your home.
The Bauhaus was arguably the single most influential modernist art school of the 20th century. Founded by architect Walter Gropius, it was a centre born from the anxieties of soulless modern manufacturing and the depleting social relevance of fine art. Gropius believed that art and traditional craft and workmanship could be intertwined to create both beautiful and functional architecture.
Although the school was quashed by the Nazis in 1933, its message and, more importantly, its teachers survived. They, along with former students, spread the word that ‘art’ in a house no longer needed to be just a painting on the wall but that the house itself and everything in it, from cutlery to tables, could be works of art.
Today, you may recognize Bauhaus design as a set of clean lines and simple materials made famous by artists inspired by the school, including Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, and Wassily Kandinsky. But the movement is not all about exterior aesthetics. It is more about embracing modernist progress and delivering it to as many people as possible.
How do you make your house or apartment more ‘Bauhaus’? Well, the answer may lie in a simple quote: “less is more.”
When buying furniture, remember famous Bauhaus designs use no more material than absolutely needed, but they can often have multi-functional uses. They also have a beautiful industrial look, while following geometric shapes. If you own an iPhone, take a good look at it to gain inspiration, because its creators took the Bauhaus DNA and incorporated it into their design.
But don’t be afraid to head down to your local IKEA to achieve the look you’re after. While many think of the chain as quintessentially Swedish, it’s Bauhaus we have to thank for the store’s mass-produced, functional furniture.
As Frances Ambler, author of “The Story of Bauhaus” puts it: “It’s so familiar that it no longer seems remarkable.” It’s thanks to the Bauhaus that so much design thinking continues to copy this philosophy of usefulness before extravagance.
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