Lessons from Bauhaus

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I was touring a photography exhibit at The Getty today in LA and spotted this diagram of the Bauhaus curriculum by the school’s founder, Walter Gropius. I find myself a bit jealous of the simplicity of this design and inherent teaching philosophy.

I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to the history of design, what I do know has mostly been the unintentional consequence of theft. But I’ve always been drawn to the beauty and utility of Bauhaus and, maybe ignorantly, find myself comparing their movement to the fusing of design and technology doing and thinking in our industry today. I also find it as inspiration for the sort of environment I ultimately want to foster in my own workplace: a sense of perpetual apprenticeship (to a master which is the outside world), a curiosity for holistic study, and a gathering of diverse perspectives.

“The Bauhaus workshops are essentially laboratories in which prototypes of products suitable for mass production and typical of our time are carefully developed and constantly improved. In these laboratories the Bauhaus wants to train a new kind of collaborator for industry and the crafts, who has an equal command of both technology and form.”

“… the culminating point of the Bauhaus teaching is a demand for a new and powerful working correlation of all the processes of creation. The gifted student must regain a feeling for the interwoven strands of practical and formal work. The joy of building, in the broadest meaning of that word, must replace the paper work of design.”

“No longer can anything exist in isolation. We perceive every form as the embodiment of an idea, every piece of work as a manifestation of our innermost selves. Only work which is the product of inner compulsion can have spiritual meaning.”

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