The Bauhaus institution, the original name being Staatliches Bauhaus which was commonly translated into “School of Building” or “construction house”, was founded 1919, in the German city Weimar. The school was founded by Walter Gropius after he independently devised a manifesto and held the idea of combining fine art and crafts into one medium (‘Bauhaus’, 2018). This became influential on Graphic Design at the time because of how out of the box and unique it seemed. No one had even attempted at mixing two different mediums. For the first three years of its existence, it had become shaped by pedagogical and aesthetic ideas of Johannes Itten.
Johannes Itten indeed taught at the Bauhaus school through 1919-1922 by cultivating students on the basics of “material characteristics, composition and colour” (‘Johannes Itten’, 2018) and a lot of workshops within the institution were motivated by him (Bauhaus Archive Teaching, 2018).
The idea of the school and it’s blueprint was thought out many a time, changing very frequently but one aspect Gropius was confident about was experimentation. Experimentation along with thinking organically was highly encouraged in the school as the Bauhaus movement was “set out to change society”; you wouldn’t be able to accomplish this without thinking outside of the box or delving into the range of distinctive techniques the institution had to offer.
Bauhaus Ideal course structure and student pathways (Gropius, 1919)
The teaching methods that remained in Bauhaus was aimed to replace the traditional pupil-teacher relationship and form into more of a social and community bond. For example, Itten refrained from rectifying students work in concern that it would crush their “creative impulse” (‘Johannes Itten, 2018). The objective was to integrate art in everyday life through design, architecture and they would do so by bringing several different practices all under one roof as well as assimilate modern technology with historic techniques (GreenGinger, 2016). There were carpentry courses, mathematics, photography, weaving, ceramics as well as theory classes (Whilsere, 2017). The famous pedagogical diagram seen above contains layers of classes, the biggest being the foundation and the core holding mastery (Tallman, 2010).
The revolutionary Bayer Universal Typeface which only contained lower case letters (Bayer, 1925)
Herbert Bayer was a student at Bauhaus for 4 years and was taught by stars such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. His printing style had developed and formed over the years; he had become associated with “using lowercase, sans serif typefaces and having a crisp style for the Bauhaus publications” (‘Herbert Bayer’, 2018) and was eventually anointed director of printing and advertising by Walter Gropius. The project was exciting for Bayer and he managed to create “Universal”, a typeface with required no upper case and was simple (Design History, 2011).
Lastly, the school would close its doors for good 14 years later, in the year 1933, after the German Nazi’s forced it to shut down (Moholy, 2018). Although the school was shut, the structure of the Art and Design used within the Bauhaus school as well as the material taught is still as relevant and useful as it was back then to this very day!
Bauhaus Archive Teaching (2018) Teaching at the Bauhaus. Available at: https://www.bauhaus.de/en/das_bauhaus/45_unterricht/ (Accessed: 8 February 2018).
‘Bauhaus’ (2018) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bauhaus (Accessed: 10 February 2018).
Bayer, H. (1925) Universal Bayer. Available at: http://www.theartstory.org/movement-bauhaus-artworks.htm#pnt_2 (Downloaded: 1 March 2018).
Design History (2011) Typography Teachers at Bauhaus – Experiments in Idealist Typefaces. Available at: http://www.designhistory.org/Avant_Garde_pages/BauhausType.html (Accessed: 10 March 2018).
GreenGinger (2016) Why is Bauhaus still so influential today? Available at: http://greengingerdesign.co.uk/why-is-bauhaus-influential-today/ (Accessed: 20 February 2018).
‘Herbert Bayer’ (2018) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Bayer (Accessed: 9 March 2018).
Gropius, W. (1919) Bauhaus Famous Pedagogical Diagram. Available at: http://judithbaumann.com/bauhaus/ (Downloaded: 15 February 2018).
‘Johannes Itten’ (2018) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Itten#Influence (Accessed: 1 March 2018).
Moholy, L. (2018) Bauhaus. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/b/bauhaus (Accessed: 6 March 2018).
Tallman, S. (2010) Learning Styles. Available at: https://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/magazines/bauhaus-curriculum/ (Accessed: 18 February 2018).
Whilsere, A. (2017) Learning in the Bauhaus School: five lessons for today’s designers (and five ways the web still is Bauhaus). Available at: http://trydesignlab.com/blog/bauhaus-school-five-lessons-for-todays-designers/ (Accessed: 15 February 2018).