We chose the Bauhaus and the anniversary of its founding as the theme of this year’s Group Focus Time. The centennial is sparking debate and raising questions of how the Bauhaus impacts our design practice today. The project ideas from our Group Focus Time were therefore to come from a personal interpretation of the Bauhaus.
There are countless exhibitions on this year’s theme of “Bauhaus - 100 years”, and the Bauhaus Foundation, along with the Bauhaus Archive, is providing insight into the design history of this time.
One of the Bauhaus’ most important influences is its impact on today’s education at design universities. Our colleague Ramona Rösch studied at the Pforzheim University of Design. One of many universities that could only exist in its current form thanks to the Staatliche Bauhaus paving the way. Many design historians profess that the Bauhaus was the most influential art and design school in the modern age worldwide.
Two things were completely new:
a) The open, pedagogical concept with apprentices and masters instead of professors and students. There were also rituals that the members of a mixed religion (Masdasnan) carried out, entailing certain breathing techniques and a vegetarian lifestyle.
b) Internationally renowned teachers, e.g Wassily Kandisky, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer.
There isn’t one general definition of Bauhaus. The Bauhaus has always stood for an idea , not for a particular style. Multiple Bauhaus styles existed in parallel. This can be seen when paintings and architecture from the same time period are directly compared.
The history of the Bauhaus is a mirror image of social change in the 20th century. The fundamental novelty of the Bauhaus was a result of the fact that architects and craftspeople were organized into groups that positioned themselves against the currently established historicism. These included the Vereinigung Werkbund (1907) and the De Stijl movement (1917), both predating the Bauhaus in Weimar (1919). The guiding principle behind these groups was to set new standards that rejected stale design approaches. From 1919, the Staatliche Bauhaus was the first institution to bring the knowledge and skills of art and craft together in one university. Even today, it stands for the idea of working towards a better future for society.
Without the foundations laid by Johannes Itten, without the Viennese and Hungarian groups as well as the Dutch “De Stijl” movement and the ideas of Russian constructivists, the Bauhaus would surely have been less lively (see W. Herzogenrath). Without the attempts and
failure of the Bauhaus, we as designers would be shaped by very different influences. Based on inspiration drawn from the Bauhaus, we want to show what influences have shaped us and what designs we want to create to honor the idea of the Bauhaus.
Over 20 exciting and exceptional project ideas came out of our Group Focus Time.
Group Focus Time takes place once a year over a full work day. It’s similar to a BarCamp. Project concepts are introduced, teams are formed and the best results are presented at the end of the day. The most significant prerequisites are collaboration between all our sites as well as teamwork. Group Focus Time is different from our monthly Focus Time sessions. Focus Time gives employees 4 hours per month of free rein to tackle technical themes outside customer projects.
Our Munich team, comprising Chris, Oli and Stefan, devoted their time to Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballett and came up with their own interpretation. A 100-second video was their homage to the Bauhaus on its 100th anniversary. The concept of the triad is expressed in space, form and color, and is complemented by music by Ryoji Ikeda.
Oskar would be proud of you!
„(…) The Triadic Ballett, amusingly cheerful without being grotesque, flirting with conventions without giving way to their baseness, aspiring to body dematerialization without falling into occultism, has to lead the way toward a German ballet with enough style and specificities to compete with its undoubtedly remarkable, yet stranger to the essence siblings (Swedish, Russian ballet).“ – Oskar Schlemmer
When prompted to think about the Bauhaus and painting, most of us probably immediately imagine styles such as cubism, constructivism or neo-plasticism. The common design principle underlying these artistic styles is geometric, technical presentation. Cubism especially is defined by a dissolving of organic forms into geometric and yet multifaceted images. Neo-plasticism goes one step further with a strict reduction of the visual language right down to lines and primary colors. One team set itself the task of creating a self portrait of shapes and colors in this style. Step-by-step abstractions of their own likenesses resulted in amazing self portraits.
In a digital profession, you don’t usually get to hold the fruits of your labor in your hands. Creating a finished product that could be touched and even sat on was the goal in the Enzo Mari furniture design group. The Italian designer and object artist published his book “Autoprogettazione” in 1974, featuring 19 DIY furniture designs. It was a milestone in the history of design.
Thanks to the Saarbrücken team’s successful joinery, we are now the proud owners of a table with four chairs for our roof terrace in Mari’s own design.
As the roof terrace at the office in Saarbrücken has even more space to fill, another team considered creating shade through planting and wondered what seating they could provide. Before their successful project began, they came up with a well-considered concept and a convincing presentation.
To this end, the team used its professional skills and realized an innovative, interactive concept with a pair of VR glasses and a virtual 3D model. A miniature scale model of the terrace concept served as the foundations for the 3D model. Hopefully, we can all soon enjoy the full-scale version of this project.
Materials and a product’s touch and feel play an important role in developing prototypes. The material influences interaction with a user interface and can even set limitations for implementation.
The „Glass & Steel“ team considered the use of glass and steel surfaces as devices to support and expand reality (augmented reality). In a specific use case, they developed a scenario where a colleague from China was coming to visit. On their way from their hotel to our Ergosign office in Munich, route navigation isn’t restricted to their smartphone. In future, the windows at train stations or in the train itself could help them access important information about their journey. In a video, the team boldly shed light on the ideas behind their vision for the future use of glass and steel surfaces.
These projects and concepts are just a small excerpt of the many exciting and innovative ideas that sprung up during Group Focus Time 2019.
We’d like to thank everyone involved for this uplifting day!
BOOK: ISBN-10: 3895814946, Editor Alexander, Author Wulf Herzogenrath, Title: Das bauhaus gibt es nicht, 2019, 152 Seiten, S. 26. ↩