Bauhaus interiors are perhaps the most intriguing of the early-twentieth-century art movements. Embracing media from painting to architecture and quickly establishing itself as the most important school of European modernism, Bauhaus has continued to captivate architects and designers and be a big part of modern interior design since the movement's peak in the early 1930s.
In fact, the influence of Bauhaus on contemporary design is so pervasive that the late Terence Conran even went as far as to say: It has an impact on everything I do'.
Perhaps Bauhaus continues to inform and inspire contemporary designers because of the considerable freedoms it offers to blend elements of fine art, craftsmanship, and architecture – a conversation between different creative practices that produces unusual forms and a playfulness of style.
The movement is best known for its founder, the architect Walter Gropius, but it united a disparate (yet idealistic) group of artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, photographers such as László Moholy-Nagy, jewellery and textile makers, and many others who shared the movement's commitment to making art functional – which is to say accessible to everyone who might have an appreciation for beautiful things.
As award-winning interior designer - and Livingetc columnist - Linda Boronkay explains,
'The Bauhaus design stands for bringing together arts, crafts and industry into a total work of art. It is an essay in efficiency, only focusing on the essential and using the smallest number of different material[s]. Yet, inherent in the design is an amazing drama and flair emerging from that purity, of materials being not just true to themselves but showing off their potential.
'It is a design movement that embodies the spirit of the modern age. What I love about it most and why I think it’s so relevant at our age is that it had come from an era of economic turmoil and cultural conservatism and it offered a truly radical, international and optimistic vision of the future - which we need so much of right now as well.'
Less severe than Constructivism and more open to a playfulness with colour than the modernism of Le Corbusier, for example, Bauhaus works remarkably well as a contemporary interior design style trend. Incorporating Bauhaus into an interior can mean combining stark, geometric shapes with bold colours; it can also involve creating strong accents with abstract-printed textiles and bright-coloured seating.
Above all, Bauhaus represents the idea that minimalism and functionality can be joyful, and that a home where nothing is out of place isn't necessarily a home that has been drained of spontaneity. It's about making homes streamlined and easy to live in, yet allowing for individual expression and unexpected juxtapositions.
Bauhaus tells us that the future can be bright – and it's exactly the kind of optimism we all need this year.
Anna is Consumer Editor across Future home titles. She contributes to Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home and Real Homes, and she has a background in academic research. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s. Not just an expert in consumer shopping trends, she has also written about literature, architecture, and photography, and has a special interest in high-end interior design.
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