The Bauhaus in a Nutshell

"How Bauhaus is your house?" asks a new video short about the history and influence of the Bauhaus movement.

The Bauhaus in a Nutshell

"How Bauhaus is your house?" asks a new video short about the history and influence of the Bauhaus movement.

The Bauhaus in a Nutshell

The video glosses the history of the Bauhaus, but packs minimalist graphics, some witty narration, and interesting factoids. Founded in 1919, the school changed how design and aesthetics were taught.

The Bauhaus in a Nutshell

As the video puts it, the Bauhaus showed "art school as an alternative way of life.” It was a lot of fun out there in Dessau.

The Bauhaus in a Nutshell

Bauhaus students and faculty were the life of the party it seems.

The Bauhaus in a Nutshell

That is, before the Nazis shut down the school in 1933.

The Bauhaus in a Nutshell

Still, while it flourished, the Bauhaus engendered a vibrant creative atmosphere that produced some of modernism’s greatest design icons. Like the steel-bent cantilever chair by "someone named Breuer."

The Bauhaus in a Nutshell

That’s Marcel Breuer, of course. His chairs embraced the Bauhaus’s mass-production ethos, which the school’s pedagogy applied at all scales, from furniture…

The Bauhaus in a Nutshell

…to buildings.

Co.Design

Watch: The History Of The Bauhaus, In 2 Minutes

A new video short uses minimalist graphics and witty wordplay to describe what the Bauhaus was.

"How Bauhaus is your house?" The question is posed at the end of the animated short "Bauhaus: Design in a Nutshell."

I’d venture that most of our apartments and bedroom interiors include next to nothing that could be termed Bauhaus—or any other canonical design movement, for that matter. Barring, of course, that set of modestly priced Ikea cantilever chairs that fill out the dining room (or "area").

Produced for The Open University’s OpenLearn website, the Bauhaus video is one of six themed teasers designed as bite-sized introductions to consequential aesthetic movements of the 20th century, such as Modernism and Arts and Crafts.

Featuring minimalist graphics inflected with bits of humor—delivered in large part by Ewan McGregor’s insouciant narration—the Bauhaus short charts a (too) brief history of the school and the commanding influence it would come to exert over modern life and design. Of course, the details are vague, and the video contents itself with a more simplistic view of the storied design school, which experienced at least three different phases from its founding in 1919 to its closing by the Nazis in 1933. Still, it’s filled with compelling little factoids and entertaining asides that paint a picture of what life was like at the Bauhaus (German, by the way, for "school for building").

And what was it like? Pretty fun, it seems. (For more proof, look no further than their costume parties.) The Bauhaus—here, visually represented by a cardboard avatar of Walter Gropius’s glass and steel campus—was the forerunner of the "art school as an alternative way of life." It was a place for unparalleled, and to some, indecent experimentation, and the results were by turns groundbreaking and silly.

In this creative environment, some of modern design’s greatest icons were born. Like the cantilever chair, which the short casually credits to "someone named Breuer" (Marcel Breuer, of course), whose designs for the tubular steel chair embraced the school’s mass-production ethos. While most people are familiar with Breuer’s design, they probably were unaware that the architect/designer shrugged off the chair’s success and instead looked ahead to the days when chairs were obsolete and people were sitting on "columns of air."

Long after the Bauhaus’s demise, its emblematic aesthetics would be recycled ad infinitum, usually with little regard to the school’s original "ideas, reform, exploration, and vitality." Knowingly or not, the video concludes with an apt conclusion of the state of Bauhaus today: it was all about "giving us more cool stuff for our apartments."

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2 Comments

  • Clive Hilton

    Many thanks for your entertaining and informed review of our project, Sammy. We really appreciate it. Matt, Peter, Clive and the OpenLearn team - and not least, Thought Den.

  • Mhwiliams

    Just so that you know, where it says "Bauhaus school Weimar Germany" the illustration on is of the Bauhaus building in Dessau.