Yesterday we took a field trip to Dessau, a city two hours south of Berlin which is home to the world famous Bauhaus art school. The Bauhaus art school is known for its innovative curriculum which combined fine art with the mastery of craft. While it is most famous for its architecture program, the Bauhaus school also supported textile, sculpture, painting, and industrial design programs. Some of Germany’s most famous artists were apart of the Bauhaus school faculty, including Walter Gropius (the founder of the school), Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Maholy-Nagy, and Marcel Breuer. Today the Bauhaus school still functions, though not in the original building or campus. The school was running from 1919 – 1933, when the Nazi regime took over. The school originally existed in Weimar 1919 – 1925, in Dessau from 1925 – 1932, and then in Berlin from 1932 – 1933.
Upon arrival at the Bauhaus, we were received through a guided tour of the school. This included learning about the exterior of the building, seeing Gropius’ office and an original student dorm, and touring the interior of the building. Also included was an exhibition dedicated to the school including the craftsmanship that came out of the school and a bit about the basic curriculum of the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus building itself was the most insane thing architects had ever seen back in the 1920s – classical proportions combined with beautiful minimalist style! One notable aspect of the building is the “curtain windows,” which are floor to ceiling windows that make up the exterior of each floor. This concept coincides with Gropius’ idea of “transparency” in buildings, that the interior and exterior should be as one, a fluid design per se. What is most interesting about the Bauhaus school was the curriculum. Many art and design schools adopted a similar way and organization of teaching after seeing how successful it was. This curriculum is still used in the most renowned art schools in the world today. Moreover, the entire Bauhaus movement was motivated by experimental design. This basically posits that designs or ideas that have never been imagined before should be completed or seen through, so that these imaginative creations could be realized and assessed in real life.
During our trip to Dessau, we were also able to see the “Master’s Houses,” which are the houses designed for the directors and main faculty members of the Bauhaus school. The “masters” included Walter Gropius, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Lyonel Feininger, Georg Muche, Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee. The houses were built in typical Bauhausian style: minimalist design, an emphasis on proximity to nature, built for optimal leisureliness, and totally focused on the craft of the moment. The houses were intended to further influence the artists living in them. They were built supposedly to inspire them at all times for maximum creative potential. All in all, this field trip to Dessau was incredible. It is amazing to think how just a few individuals so greatly influenced art, design, and education, as well as having built a legacy for the design world.