A trip to Germany with the Davis Museum of Art at Wellesley College included a tour of the Bauhaus in Dessau. It was an opportunity to see, in person, this important icon of 20th century architecture and design.
A (very) brief history. In 1919, one hundred years ago, Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. The design aesthetic was lean and spare. It would influence modern design for years to come, 100 for sure. The Bauhaus was a school where designers, architects, painters, sculptors and craftsmen taught and built items. Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky worked there.
Nazi interference in 1924 made Gropius move the school to Dessau, a city southwest of Berlin. There, he built a campus consisting of the main building, a director’s house and three masters’ houses.
I’ve tried to capture some of the Bauhaus aesthetic like the exterior glass curtain-wall of the main building.
Construction details and color are all strikingly modern.
Furniture was constructed with tubular arms and legs. Door pulls were simple and unadorned.
Rain-washed cement sidewalks seemed compatible with the tiny balconies.
The director’s house is a freestanding building. There are also three identical semi-detached houses for the masters. They are white stucco cubic structures designed by Gropius. They are modular with mirrored and rotated floor plans for variety. In the unadorned rooms light from windows, high and low, plays along the walls giving them an almost abstract quality as they intersect one another.
We take for granted much of what Gropius and his followers did to change the nature of design and architecture. What will the next hundred years look like?