Le Corbusier LC2-1 Sessel, Einsitzer - easy chair Le Corbusier LC4 Liege - chaise longue, lounge chair Le Corbusier LC6 Esstisch dining table Charles Eames Lounge-Chair and Ottoman Hocker Charles Rennie Mackintosh chair Hillhouse Stuhl Ludwig Mies van der Rohe chair Barcelona Sessel Marcel Breuer chair Wassily Stuhl Isamu Noguchi Coffee Table Tisch
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Bauhaus -
history and origins

Bauhaus design - the beginning of modernism

The German Bauhaus Movement had an important impact on the development of Design and Architecture in the twentieth century. It was truly avant-garde in it's techniques and ideas.

beginning of design

Does the word "Bauhaus" create any images in you? You probably heard many things about architects like Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe. May be you even posses the Lounge Chair LC4, the ultimate "Rest machine" or you sat just the other day in a Barcelona chair when you had an appointment with this important company.
Yes indeed, above all the aspects of the Bauhaus Design and Architecture Movement, the furniture design reveals many crucial aspects of their avant-garde status. The work of those architects and designers has had an impact far beyond the circles of the audience for whom it was intended. The furniture especially reveals this in a very clear and perceivable way, a design still influencing our perception of beauty and usability to these days.

Bauhaus Designer Gruppenporträt

new education

The Bauhaus was the most influential art, craft and design school of the 20th century. The Bauhaus teachers were highly influential people. Artists such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Lászl Moholy-Nagy taught alongside architects and designers such as Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. They believed that students should be able to exercise different disciplines, from graphics to architecture. Every student needed a combined practical and theoretical education, which at the time was quite revolutionary. The aim was to produce work that unified intellectual, practical and aesthetic concerns through artistic endeavor and the exploitation of new technologies. All this should lead to a successful integration of design theory with the industrial process.

the new way of living

The impact of the horrible experiences in the First World War, poverty and inflation created a new consciousness, which influenced strongly Design, Architecture and Art. The Bauhaus reacted to this social change by creating an aesthetic relevance to the requirements of the time. Bauhaus protagonists wanted to bridge the gap between the social idealism and the commercial reality and to promote a response to the emerging technological culture. The "New Man" became the ideal, a concept that also expressed itself in living. The Bauhaus Design showed a simplicity with emphasis on straight edges and smooth, slim forms. The rooms were sparsely furnished, but filled with hygienic freshness. Superfluous features were taboo. Shining steel was discovered as a material for furniture. The aim was to take advantage of the possibilities of mass production to achieve a style of design that was both functional and aesthetic. Objects were to be designed to have "simplicity, multiplicity, economical use of space, material, time and money which looks as modern as anything in production today.

The Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer (1926) is one of the icons of the 20th century. Marcel Breuer chair Wassily Stuhl


A principle of the Bauhaus was to serve the development of contemporary housing, from the most basic household equipment to the complete house.
Technology was key for the Modernists. Followers of the Bauhaus School saw the machine as an extension of the hand. In fact, even though the early Bauhaus furniture was hand made, it was designed to suggest industrial production. Le Corbusier's ultimate aim was to allow man, machine and nature to co-exist in a state of equilibrium. The result was a kind of machine-age-classicism, where "the house is a machine for living" and "the chair is a machine for sitting in".
Marcel Breuer is truly the pioneer in finding new ways to produce furniture. It is said, that he got the idea of making tubular metal furniture from the handle bar of his bicycle. For him tubular steel with leather or fabric were as comfortable as good upholstered furniture, but lighter, cheaper, less bulky and more hygienic. The idea behind this new aesthetics was to built cheap and beautiful homes, were the cool and durable materials of the furniture would create a new type of beauty.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, PorträtLudwig Mies van der Rohe chair Barcelona SesselLudwig Mies van der Rohe chair Brno Stuhl

traces in the US

The Bauhaus school existed not even 15 years before it was shut down by the Nazis. Most of the artists went to the US and there they had great success.
Although the Bauhaus was a product of a social ideology, these aspects became in America less and less important and in the end the Bauhaus ideas became fully stripped of their ideological guise.
Walter Gropius taught in Harvard and many important architects went through his lectures, like Philip Johnson, later Director of the MOMA in New York. Mies van der Rohe became the head of the architecture department at the Illinois Institute of Technology and many other former Bauhaus disciples became quite successful as architects and designers in postwar America. Charles Eames is an example how strong the influence of the Bauhaus design and architecture was. On his honeymoon to Europe he saw in 1928 buildings by Mies v.d. Rohe, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. Later Eames described the effect as electrifying jolt to his sensibilities, like "having a cold hose turned on you."


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Le Corbusier Bauhaus furniture: chair + sofa LC2, LC3, Grande Comfort, lounge chair LC4, chair LC1,  armchair LC7,  stool LC8,  dining table LC6,  Coffee Table LC10
Marcel Breuer Bauhaus furniture: chair Wassily, table Laggio laccio
Mies van der Rohe Bauhaus furniture: chair + footstool Barcelona, table Barcelona, daybed Barcelona, chair Brno
Harry Bertoia Bauhaus furniture: chair Diamond, chair Wire Chair
Charles Eames Bauhaus furniture: Lounge Chair and Ottoman (footstool)
C.R. Mackintosh Bauhaus furniture: chair Hill House, chair Argyle, chair Dining Set, chair Willow, Sideboard, DS 1 table
Gerrit Rietveld Bauhaus furniture: chair Red & Blue, chair ZIG ZAG, table Red & Blue, lamp Red & Blue
Isamu Noguchi Bauhaus furniture: Coffee Table

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Le Corbusier - Marcel Breuer - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - Harry Bertoia
Charles Eames - C. R. Mackintosh - G.T. Rietveld - Isamu Noguchi

Design Classics Furniture shopping guide consultant
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Last modified: 2018-05-21