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Happy Birthday Bauhaus!

It may be 100 years old, but it is still supremely fresh, says Barbara Geier

My love for the Bauhaus kicked in exactly ten years ago, when the design school celebrated the 90th anniversary of its foundation in Weimar. Until then, my knowledge about it had been fairly superficial and I mainly associated it with architecture and its founder Walter Gropius. But then a Bauhaus exhibition came to London’s Barbican and a whole new Bauhaus world opened up to me. One that encompasses so much more than architecture.

I still remember the moment I caught a glimpse of a gorgeous, colourful wall-hanging by textile artist Gunta Stölzl, one of the few Bauhaus women who managed to step out of the shadow of the roster of mighty Bauhaus men to achieve international acclaim. Another lasting memory from that exhibition is not a Bauhaus art and design object but a black and white picture of a group of young laughing Bauhäusler, joyful, mucking about, clearly having fun. It perfectly captured the spirit of that particular moment in time, that notion of not just doing things differently in art and design, but in life, too.

Ever since then I’ve been convinced that the Bauhaus is the coolest thing to have come out of Germany. I’m fascinated by how modern it was 100 years ago and how timeless it remains today. Its idea that form follows function has travelled round the world, inspired the likes of Apple and Ikea, as well as countless everyday designs that surround us. And I somehow feel that the approach of the Bauhaus founders, teachers and artists of tearing down boundaries that existed between disciplines, establishing a whole new approach to art and design that has collaboration and knowledge sharing at its heart, is more relevant than ever in this digital era, where boundaries are blurred and things are forever changing.

The international take-up of this year’s Bauhaus centenary is quite amazing and almost no day goes by that I don’t read about a Bauhaus-related exhibition, book or project somewhere in the world. I guess I’m not the only one who has a bit of a soft spot for it!

Very high on my personal Bauhaus list of things to see is the new Bauhaus Museum Weimar in the central German state of Thuringia, opening on 6 April, which will sit at the centre of a new “Modernism Quarter” and house the world’s oldest Bauhaus collection. And a slightly off-the-beaten track building in neighbouring Saxony called Haus Schminke, which was built in the small town of Löbau in 1932/33 by architect Hans Scharoun for a local manufacturer, and still looks SO modern you wouldn’t believe it. Architecture experts list it as one of the four most important residential homes of classical Modernism in the world, in line with buildings by Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright.

And if someone then also got me one of those Gunta Stölzl wall hangings, I’d really be chuffed to bits…

 

Interested in a Bauhaus trail? The Cultural Heart of Germany, a tourism initiative of Saxony and Thuringia, features dedicated Bauhaus content, including a Bauhaus road trip.

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