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  The Bauhaus (German, ‘build-house’) was a kind of design think-tank, founded in Weimar in 1919 and broken up by the Nazis in 1933 (after which many of its members emigrated to the USA, to continue their work and brainstorming there). Its aims were to apply the best forms and styles of modern art to ordinary living, and in particular to marry mass-production techniques to the latest ideas in fine design—a kind of snappy 1920s Arts and Crafts philosophy. The Bauhaus itself was run like Edison\'s ‘Invention Factory’ a generation before, or like the Research and Development departments of many subsequent big businesses. Discussion, experimentation and development were everyday work, and production (especially mass-production) was a distinctly secondary activity.

In practice, Bauhaus creations (exemplified by tubular-metal furniture, variably-positionable desk-lamps and cuboid buildings) were stiff to look at and expensive to buy. The Bauhaus ideal, however, has influenced the design of consumer goods ever since, as anyone can testify who has sat in a moulded-plastic chair in a high-rise flat, or drunk from an extruded-polystyrene cup. The ‘think-tank’ method, too, has had enormous influence on the way 20th-century buildings, fabrics, furniture and fittings are designed and planned. Artists, architects and designers associated with the Bauhaus (and who went on to greater and less anonymous creation) included Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius (its director for the first nine years), Vassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Mies van der Rohe (who succeeded Gropius as director in 1928) and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. KMcL

Further reading H.W. Wingler, The Bauhaus; , Tom Wolfe, From the Bauhaus to Our House (marvellously sour polemic against the whole concept of ‘art-for-living’).



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