Although Bauhaus originally opened in Weimar, the Bauhaus most people understand as Bauhaus is Bauhaus Dessau.
But can the students of the Bauhaus University Weimar reclaim “Bauhaus” for Weimar?
The Bauhaus University Weimar’s annual Summaery exhibition offered a chance to learn more…..
In context of architecture and design the combination of “Bauhaus” with “Weimar” is not without significance. Whereby the (hi)story of architecture and design education in Weimar is so much more than fabled big B.
Before Bauhaus the Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstgewerbeschule Weimar under the leadership of the Belgian architect and designer Henry van de Velde was one of the most influential applied arts institutions in the opening decades of the 20th century. Post Bauhaus the Staatliche Hochschule für Handwerk und Baukunst under the directorship of Otto Bartning, and with Erich Dieckmann as head of the carpentry workshop and Wilhelm Wagenfeld in the metal workshop, continued to advance the position of a more craft based approach to industrial production, at least until the Second World War; post-war the Hochschule für Architektur und Bauwesen was not only an important educational institute in East Germany, but one of the country’s most important centres of construction and architectural research and development.
Bauhaus can therefore be considered a staging post on a longer journey.
Following German unification the Hochschule für Architektur und Bauwesen became Weimar University, in 1993 acquired a Design Department and in 1995, largely in recognition of the reconnection of technology with art which underscored Gropius’s original concept, became Bauhaus University Weimar, thus linking back to the tradition of its forerunner institute. And embarking on a new stage on the journey….
The annual Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery exhibition allows us to make our annual joke about the weather not being very summaery.
This year it was.
Very, in fact.
Which obviously spoils the joke.
If not the enjoyment of our trip to Thüringen.
The central component of the design education at the Bauhaus University Weimar is the numerous semester projects, and thus the central component of the Summaery exhibition is the results of those projects; projects including Design a sustainable value chain, which challenged the students to sustainably intervene in an existing “value chain”, essentially any part of a production/distribution/marketing process; Alles im Griff – Universal Bots which asked the students to consider meaningful aids for daily existence based on the principles of Universal Design; or, Bauhaus Apparate – Rapid Tools & Fabrication Machines in which students developed rapid processing machines, thereby making them not only users of rapid processing technology, but creators of such and thus of their own tools.
As ever, the central focus of such student end of year exhibitions should never be what results, but how that resulted, how the students developed their projects, how they responded to the set brief and the relevance of that brief. Whereby, one or the other project did get us thinking…..
Music bores are prone to the most self-righteous hyperbole when talking about the superior sound quality of vinyl records over the CD or compressed digital formats. Whereby, there would appear to be very convincing arguments in favour of physically reproduced sound over digitally.
But must records be vinyl? asked Juliane Schmidt. Not least because it is petroleum based, but also in context of the various treatments and process necessary for its production. Or put another way, given that it is an historic concept, it’s not exactly future orientated.
And so Juliane experimented with various other materials including, and amongst others, starch a castor oil/citric acid mix and milk. The latter sending us of on the search for a suitable music/milk based pun. A fruitless search. And in any case, we would argue one shouldn’t play with food in such a manner.
Realised in context of the project Design a sustainable value chain it would have been very optimistic to assume that a new solution would be realised, a new material developed; however we find the position and the research interesting and important, and are already looking forward to future conversations in which music bores earnestly insist that they always hated having to buy vinyl, environmentally irresponsible as it was.
Realised in context of the semester project Alles im Griff – Universal Bots, Symbios by Jana Aumüller is an automatic plant watering system: albeit one which only gives the plant water when you move sufficiently in the course of the day, achieve a pre-set number of steps.
An almost undefinable cruelty!
And while yes as a project it is guaranteed to raise a casual smile, one wonders how long the smile will last when rather than a plant not getting water because you don’t move enough, your health insurance won’t pay for a required treatment because your fitness watch indicates you don’t move enough? Or because your fridge orders too much processed food on your behalf? Or the bank deny a family member a much needed loan because they checked the credit rating of all their Facebook friends, and yours was awful?
Are you sure?
With which systems are you’re various smart devices linked?
For example that fitness watch?
And why exactly?
A very simply metaphor. But very effective.
Every year there is a first year product design course at Weimar which deal with desks, and which is always a happy hunting ground, proving as it invariably does that just as there is no end to the possibilities in context of chair design, the apparently patently obvious desk is always open to new interpretation. If we’ve understood the concept correctly, which is never guaranteed, the idea is the students develop a desk and associated accessories, and then use them for the rest of their time in Weimar. Thus allowing for very real time testing of their concept. And construction skills.
Among this year’s concepts we were particularly taken with the folding table concept by Alissa Arends, Leon Bucher & Yelim Kim which proposes clipping the table top into a barely there tubular steel frame, and which acquires its stability through the combination of clipping and non-existence. And which in addition allows for quick, effortless assembly/disassembly; the Hexaflex modular table by Hanni Nguyen, Anton Worch and Mingxin Xu is for us more about the connector than the actual desk thus created, because without the connector the desk cannot be thus created, or recreated and reconfigured as required. We were also taken with the obviousness of the holes to secure the table tops; while the so-called Z folding table base by Philipp Enzmann is one of those grab you by the lapels and shout in your face logical solutions that it’s almost impossible to believe doesn’t already exist. But we can’t find it. And we’ve looked. Really hard. Desperate as we are to prove it does. Obvious, ingenious and very satisfying as it is.
Full details on the Bauhaus University Weimar can be found at www.uni-weimar.de