One of the most influential movements not only on modern furniture design, but on contemporary art and design philosophy in general, the Bauhaus movement helped shape the "look" of the 20th century. Intended to bridge the gap between art and functionality, Bauhaus furniture is rooted in a vision of a material world in which all objects not only fulfill their objective purpose but also fulfill the highest aesthetic expression possible as well.
The Proclamation of the Bauhaus
The Bauhaus movement was founded in 1919 by the German architect Walter Gropius in the city of Weimar. In his famous "Proclamation of the Bauhaus," Gropius laid out his vision for a unified art movement that took all the existing fields of expression and focused them on the single goal of producing a human environment that was imbued with meaning and beauty. According to Gropius, "The ultimate aim of all visual arts is the complete building," and the impetus of the original Bauhaus -- "house of architecture" -- movement was the creation of craft guilds that would be able to produce various functional objects that fulfilled this vision.
The Bauhaus School
Combining a traditional fine arts education with new ideas and principles in design, the Bauhaus school was a living embodiment of Gropius's ideals. Students first learned artistic basics, including design principles and color theory, before specializing in the specific craft -- whether metalworking or cabinetmaking -- in which they would apply those principles. Many famous artists taught these preliminary art classes at the Bauhaus, including Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, as the idea was to fuse the highest creative expression at the time with real-world functional objects.
An Emphasis on Furniture
By 1925, the school had proved so successful that it moved to the city of Dessau and into a building that Gropius himself designed. Under the direction of Marcel Breuer, the cabinet-making studio became one of the most popular workshops of the new school, as it was here that new design forms were incorporated into household items meant for mass productions and consumption -- Bauhaus design was not for art galleries, but for the common home. Mixing new designs from the textile studios and the metalworking workshops, particularly simple steel frames, Bauhaus furniture was at once minimalist and elegant yet also extremely functional.
A Lasting Influence
Although the original Bauhaus movement was short-lived -- the German government began oppressing the movement by the early 1930s and most of its most influential members fled the country and the Nazis soon after -- Bauhaus lives on. The New Bauhaus was founded in Chicago in 1937, where many of the same design experimentations continued. In fact, Bauhaus contributed strongly to the look and feel of the "modernist" movement in the United States, greatly influencing prominent architects and designers like Le Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe.
- Photo Credit Till Monshausen/iStock/Getty Images
History of Scandinavian Furniture
In the 1920s and 1930s, European design movements focused on industrial materials and mass production. In Germany, Bauhaus austerely combined arts and...
Information on Bauhaus Furniture
The Bauhaus School created a design movement geared for mass production of functional furnishings. Formed by architect Walter Gropius in 1919, the...
History of Contemporary Furniture Design
Furniture in the 20th century sharply moved from ornate, complicated designs furniture toward sleek, modern styles. Influences on designers in this period...
How to Repair Wassily Chairs
The Wassily chair is a modern and stylish piece of furniture with a long history. Marcel Breuer, the head of the furniture...
How to Clean a Bauhaus Couch
Bauhaus couches come in many upholstery types, from fabric to leather. The couch frames are glued and stapled hardwood, and Bauhaus uses...
Styles of Furniture in the '70s
Design innovation in the 1970s slowed down from the previous decade, but furniture designers continued to experiment with bright colors and industrial-style...
A Typical 1930s Dining Room
Interior design in the 1930s was heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement. Traditional dining rooms reflected that style, which originated in...
Characteristics of Contemporary Furniture
Contemporary furniture refers to the styles and trends of the present -- the now -- as opposed to traditional furniture designs that...
Furniture Styles of the 1900s
As of 2010, modern furniture includes any designs from the late 19th century to the present. In the 1900s, polished metals and...