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4 Chaise longue à reglage continu
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Bauhaus - Then and Now

The legendary Bauhaus lamp WG 24 from Wilhelm Wagenfeld

Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau

From 1919 to 1925 Bauhaus was based in Weimar where it emerged from the merger of the Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunsthochschule and the Kunstgewerbeschule. Walter Gropius, the initiator and director, established Bauhaus with the intention of creating an institution which would marry art with industry, trade and crafts. In context of the practical training the Bauhaus workshops played a central role and existed as an equal party to the theoretical studies. Despite Gropius's aims Bauhaus didn't start cooperating with industry until 1922, and in 1923 an exhibition under title "Art and technology - A new unit" was staged, in which the Bauhaus furniture, lamps and accessories interspersed easily and openly into the rooms. The resonance of the exhibition was such that it established the international reputation of Bauhaus furniture, buildings and art: a reputation which remains undiminished to this day. In 1925 the right-wing conservative regional government forced the closure of Bauhaus Weimar, leading to the subsequent move to Dessau. In the course of the following seven years the most famous Bauhaus furniture was developed in cooperation with local industrial companies such as Junkers aircraft factory, Waggonfabrik AG and Berlin-Anhaltische Maschinenbau AG. In 1932 more political interference saw Bauhaus relocated to Berlin, before in 1933 it closed its doors for ever.


The credo "beauty should be combined with usefulness" became popular during the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, and a century later the idea that art, crafts and industry should be united was firmly established. One of the leading protagonists being the German architect Gottfried Semper who after visiting the London World Exposition in 1851 wrote that the connection between art and industry can best be established through teaching: a position most popularly realised through the Bauhaus. In terms of objects one of the most important of the period was Chair No. 14 by Michael Thonet, released in 1859 the chair with its reduction, functionality and innovative use of material made it very popular with the coming generation of architects and designers and in many respects served as a model for Bauhaus furniture. The start of the 20th century saw the crystallisation of many of these ideas in the formation of the Deutsche Werkbund - German Federation of Architects and Designers - an organisation to which Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius also belonged.

Walter Gropius' office at Bauhaus Weimar

Bauhaus Dessau

The technical context

During the Bauhaus a number of technical "miracles" appeared which radically altered the everyday social, economic and political realities: express trains, aeroplanes, affordable cars, street lighting, electrical lighting and telephones in the home and all manner of new household machines and appliances. These technical innovations allowed the establishment of an industrial culture, including the mass, series production of furniture, while the new means of communication and the new mobility promoted an unprecedented international dialogue amongst furniture designers.

The origins of Bauhaus furniture

The Dutch architect and furniture designer Mart Stam designed the first cantilevered steel tube chair in 1926, taking up from where the De Stijl movement had begun with steel tube furniture. At Bauhaus, artists, sculptors, architects, designers and craftsmen were able to work together in an unprecedented way, thus further developing the Bauhaus style in various directions. The designs of the Bauhaus design furniture were intended to meet the dual demands functionality as well as those of advanced industrial series production. The Bauhaus theory saw the arts and the architecture as inseparable, and this is reflected in the Bauhaus furniture design classics. Among the most fastidious Bauhaus protagonists was the architect and furniture designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Among Mies van der Rohe's most famous furniture design classics is the Barcelona Chair and stool, which he designed for the German pavilion on the occasion of the 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona. The steel frame and the leather-covered and button-seated seat and back cushions characterize this chair as uncompromising, aristocratic and elegant.

Barcelona Day Bed from Knoll International

Adjustable Table E 1027 from Eileen Gray

Bauhaus furniture from Marcel Breuer

The furniture designer Marcel Breuer began his studies at Bauhaus in 1920 and acquired his Master title at the time of Bauhaus's move from Weimar to Dessau in 1925. From the very beginning Breuer was regarded as a pioneer in the innovative use of materials, for all wood and metal. In his text "Metal Furniture and Modern Spatiality" Breuer described the aim with his Bauhaus furniture as being to create objects which stand in space in such a way that they interfere with neither movement nor the view through the room. The famous Laccio Bauhaus tables, designed by Marcel Breuer around 1925, consist of a combination of chrome plated steel tubes and wooden surfaces, and today Knoll International still produce the Laccio Table. The Wassily steel tube armchair was also designed in 1925 and was designed for the Dessau studio apartment of his colleague Wassily Kandinsky, from whom the name for the Bauhaus classic was also derived. In 1928 Breuer added a steel tube chair following the typical Bauhaus design to his portfolio.

Bauhaus classic: Bauhaus Pendant Lamp DMB 26 from Marianne Brandt

Wassily Chair from Marcel Breuer

Style elements in Bauhaus furniture

The Bauhaus furniture designers refrained from using unnecessary decorations and colour, and instead used simple but strikingly chrome plated surfaces complemented by the regular use of black. Steel tubes offering as it does numerous benefits, such as high load bearing capacity, low raw material costs, low weight and good formability, greatly contributed to the resulting exceptional design and ease of transportability. The plywood used for Bauhaus tables and chairs consisted of several thin wood layers glued together, which ensured an ease of moulding. However, the typical curved shapes were also created because the welding work could thus be minimized. The use of glass in table tops formed a direct link to the architecture of the time, which focused on the use of glass and steel in the construction of new buildings. Reduction in Bauhaus design is particularly present in the case of the cantilever chairs, where the traditional 4 leg frame was dispensed with. The combination of tubular steel with a wicker mesh makes Thonet furniture the very epitome of Bauhaus furniture design.

Famous Bauhaus chair: S 43 Classic from Marcel Breuer

100 Years of Bauhaus

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, numerous theme-specific exhibitions and celebrations will take place in 2019. As part of the "100 Years of Bauhaus" anniversary programme and under the motto "Thinking the World anew", Bauhaus Verbund, together with regional and international partners, is inviting visitors to discover the extensive history of the art school, which still has an impact on living and coexistence in society today.

Thonet S 533

Limited Bauhaus Edition: Thonet S 533 F

More about 'Bauhaus' in our blog

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for December 2023

...Born in Berlin on April 20th 1887 Else Mögelin trained as a drawing teacher and shop window decorator in the German capital before enrolling in 1919 at Bauhaus Weimar, as one of the earliest students, and where after an initial period in the pottery at Dornburg she joined the weaving workshop in 1921...

Campus Grassimesse

...And a novel method of teaching that, by all accounts, saw Walter Gropius not once but twice offer Margarete Naumann the position of head of the weaving workshop at Bauhaus Weimar... Considerations which are important, as are those of the influence of Mazdaznan on the Weimar Bauhaus, but shouldn't detract from the interesting and informative contribution of Loheland to the discourses and discussions on creative eduction, and relationships with our objects of daily use, including their production and form/function relationships, in the early decades of the 20th century...

Klassik Stiftung Weimar Theme Year 2023: Wohnen

...In context of the 1923 Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar, that first wide-ranging presentation of the school, its work and its understandings of itself and the world in which it existed, the institute presented with the Haus am Horn by Georg Muche and its interior, furniture, fittings and accessories by the likes of, and amongst others, Erich Dieckmann, Alma Buscher, Otto Lindig, Benita Otte or Marcel Breuer, a synopsis of the prevailing understandings of and positions to domestic arrangements and domesticity amongst the Weimar Bauhäusler... A contribution to furniture (hi)story, to relationships with furniture, those brave young things at Bauhaus Weimar seemed to have missed in their open disdain for the Weimar of yore and their striving headlong forwards; if only they'd listened a little more to the contemporaneous counsel of a P...

Haël. Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein and her workshops for decorative ceramics 1923-1934 at the Bröhan Museum, Berlin

...The popular Bauhaus focus, preoccupation, of discussions on creativity in the 1920s very naturally leads to us all ignoring other important protagonists, causes us all, when oft unwittingly, to miss other equally valid, and enjoyable, paths to appreciations of developments in craft, design, technology and our objects of daily use in the early decades of the 20th century, that important, and still very relevant, period where handwork increasingly ceded to industry... Haël, is and was essentially a platform for Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein, a creative who, while still Margarete Heymann, had learned her craft, her art, and who began to develop her positions and her approaches, during periods at the Kunstgewerbeschule Köln, the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and Bauhaus Weimar, or more specifically the Bauhaus ceramics workshop in Dornburg under the direction of Gerhard Marcks, before, together with her, then, husband Gustav and brother-in-law Daniel as the more business orientated components of the partnership, establishing Haël, and that at the age of just 24...

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for July 2023

...Works, some 250 of which, are however very much the focus of the Bröhan-Museum's exhibition; works created, as the title neatly implies, between 1923 and 1934, that, all too brief, period after her training at the Kunstgewerbeschule Köln, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and Bauhaus Weimar and before her enforced resettlement to, and attempted restart in, England... And works realised in context of the Haël-Werkstätten für künstlerische Keramik that Heymann-Loebenstein, together with her, then, husband and brother-in-law, established in Marwitz, to the north of Berlin, and where she produced works reflective of her own take on the realities of the day and the required responses thereto; works that, should, will, help underscore not only that Bauhaus was school not a style, a school not an era, but also that Modernist orientated ceramics and objects of daily use in the 1920s and 30s were colourful, expressive, alive and also reduced and function focussed...

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