Bauhaus at 100: the revolutionary movement’s enduring appeal

Sleek, pared-back, industrial elegance – that’s how most of us think of Bauhaus, the modernist design group born in Germany in 1919. But that was only one side of this short-lived but longlasting movement…• Norman Foster, Margaret Howell, Michael Craig-Martin and others on Bauhaus’s rich legacyThe 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.It is nowadays usually clear what the word “Bauhaus” means – design stripped down to its essentials, the rational and elegant use of modern materials and industrial techniques, clarity, simplicity, cool minimalism. The device on which I am writing this and the one on which you might be reading it follow these principles. So (with greater or lesser degrees of bastardisation) do buildings without number around the world, countless domestic objects, road signs, the lettering on a tube of toothpaste or the design of a car. The Bauhaus brand is consistent, coherent and universal. Its best-known creations, the tubular steel chairs of Mart Stam and Marcel Breuer or the steel-and-glass building built to house the school, reinforce its image. Continue reading…

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