The Bauhaus was active for a scant 14 years--from 1919 to its closing in 1933--but its influence continues to haunt design. An incubator for interdisciplinary design and study, the Bauhaus that we all know and shell out top currency for is the Bauhaus of the mid-1920s, when the curriculum adopted a technocratic bent that extolled the virtues of machine forms and of mechanical reproducibility. This shift corresponded to the school’s relocation to Walter Gropius’s new campus at Dessau, which employed rigid geometries, flat, overlapping planes, and mechanically operated windows.
The Bauhaus of today has been long institutionalized, meaning you can find hints of it in products from Vitra to Target. Still, the same abstractions and angled rectangles, when handled skillfully, produces a clarity and magnetism missing from most contemporary design. Just try to resist this series of “Bauhaus” food stylings, which make excellent use of simple rotated geometries, slanted lines, and, yes, cocoa powder.
The idea for the project was born soon after Nicola Walsh, the photography half of food stylist studio Nicky&Max, had moved to Berlin. There, at the Bauhaus Archive Museum, she was exposed to the “Bauhaus ethos,” as she puts it. Walsh excitedly discussed her initial thoughts to Max [Faber] for a photography project on the theme. “At that point we had not been working together long,” she tells Co. Design, “and I was really pushing for us to make work that had no commercial context.”
Indeed, the photographs are a long cry from the duo’s typical work, which wouldn’t be out of place in an artisanal foodie blog or magazine, minus the perfunctory gloss. “It was very much an experiment, to see how far we could push the idea of food photography,” Walsh explains. The project also gave Walsh the chance to rediscover her art and design past, which she did through the intricate plating arrangements. The bold, Constructivist colors and shapes, borrowed from Bauhaus instructor and artist László Moholy-Nagy, are reverentially handled and make for surprisingly good vehicles for the tasty morsels. As for Faber, a professional cook who runs a food and recipe site, he was focused on making the food bits appealing and fresh-looking--perfect sight bites.
Asked if there were any future experiments in the works, Walsh tentatively answers yes. But the positive response the project has received, she says, has emboldened the partners to push their “commercial” work in new directions. “It’s good to do something like this once or twice a year, with a passion to make something for no other reason other than you want to.”