It’s all design: Vitra Design Museum explores the Bauhaus legacy

Vitra presents the first comprehensive overview of the Bauhaus, now on show in Weil am Rhein as part of their Design Museum’s ongoing programme of exhibitions. Including objects and furniture as well as art, film and photography, many of the pieces on display have never been seen before, presenting a new perspective on the influential design school and its productions.

black & white photo of a Bauhaus mural workshop in Dessau in 1926
Vitra presents the first comprehensive overview of the Bauhaus, the legendary German design school founded by Walter Gropius in 1919. Objects and furniture as well as art, film and photography – many of which have never been seen before – present a new perspective on the design school and its history. Pictured: a mural workshop in Dessau in 1926
(Image credit: press)

Vitra presents the first comprehensive overview of the Bauhaus, now on show in Weil am Rhein as part of their Design Museum (opens in new tab)’s ongoing programme of exhibitions. Including objects and furniture as well as art, film and photography, many of the pieces on display have never been seen before, presenting a new perspective on the influential design school and its productions.

Founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius in Weimar, the Bauhaus set the stage for design and almost a century later its principles are still observed and celebrated. Gropius and his colleagues gave students a creative and artisanal basis alongside notions of ergonomics, psychology and technology, ideas to be used as tools to shape society.

The exhibition develops like a journey, starting with an exploration of the historical and social context of the Bauhaus’ inception, while also showcasing some of the lauded furniture pieces and objects designed by its members. The show then shifts into a wider concept explored at the Bauhaus, featuring the school’s teachings and projects related to designing spaces; this section includes the notion of minimum dwellings, colour theories proposed by the likes of Josef Albers and spatial models developed within the institute. In the final section, the exhibition explores the Bauhaus’ communication material, from its avant garde typographical experiments to films produced at the school and photographs from its early days.

As well as an historical overview featuring archive material, the exhibition also offers a modern interpretation of the school's principles, through the works of contemporary creatives such as Enzo Mari, Konstantin Grcic (opens in new tab), Hella Jongerius (opens in new tab) and Alberto Meda. To offer an up-to-date perspective on the Bauhaus and its legacy, the museum presents a series of works that demonstrate how its ambitious teachings have now become the norm for design professionals, contemporary pieces dotted throughout the exhibition to compare and contrast influences and tributes.  

With an encyclopaedic route through the Bauhaus' legendary history, the exhibition is an essential tool to understand the school and its power over design, and is a fitting testimony to a still-strengthening legacy. 

an archive image showing an advertising workshop in Dessau in 1926

An archive image showing an advertising workshop in Dessau, 1926

(Image credit: press)

a e Bauhaus colour wheel in seven shades and 12 tones

The show shifts into wider concepts explored at the Bauhaus, highlighting the school’s teachings and projects related to designing spaces: this section includes examples of colour theories proposed by, amongst others, Johannes Itten, whose colourwheel in seven shades and 12 tones is pictured here

(Image credit: press)

Walter Gropius a manifesto and programme defining the scope of the ’Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar’

Upon opening the school, Walter Gropius penned a manifesto and programme defining the scope of the ’Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar’

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a 1928 black and white photo depicting a student on one of the Dessau building’s iconic terraces

The exhibition features a wealth of archive images, such as this one from 1928 by Marianne Brandt, depicting a student on one of the Dessau building’s iconic terraces

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Marcel Breuer’s ’B3’ Bauhaus black & silver lounge chair

Better known as the ’Wassily’ chair (after painter Kandinsky), Marcel Breuer’s ’B3’ lounge chair is one of the most recognisable pieces of furniture to come out of the Bauhaus

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s ’MR20’ (left) and Erich Dieckmann’s ’Typenstuhl’ (right), both created at the Bauhaus in 1927

The archive furniture on display at the exhibition includes Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s ’MR20’ (left) and Erich Dieckmann’s ’Typenstuhl’ (right), both created at the Bauhaus in 1927

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Enzo Mari’s ’Proposta per un’autoprogettazione’ chair (left) and Alessandro Mendini’s tribute to the ’Wassily’ chair (right)

Modern interpretations of Bauhaus design principles feature Enzo Mari’s ’Proposta per un’autoprogettazione’ chair (left) and Alessandro Mendini’s tribute to the ’Wassily’ chair (right)

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Dokter and Misses’ ’Heavy Metal’ cup and saucer from 2008

More contemporary designs are also on show, such as Dokter and Misses’ ’Heavy Metal’ cup and saucer from 2008

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Konstantin Grcic’s black ’Pipe’ table and chair combo from 2009

Konstantin Grcic’s ’Pipe’ table and chair combo from 2009 nods to the Bauhaus style of Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe

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A black & white photograph from a Thonet instruction manual published in 1935

A photograph from a Thonet instruction manual published in 1935

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A detail of Studio Minale Maeda’s ’Keystones’ table, combining a wooden frame with 3D-printed joints

A detail of Studio Minale Maeda’s ’Keystones’ table, combining a wooden frame with 3D-printed joints

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black and white photo Hannes Meyer’s Co-op room from 1926

The exhibition includes displays of minimum dwelling and spatial notions developed within the school, such as Hannes Meyer’s Co-op room from 1926

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a photo of a 2014 interpretation of Hannes Meyer’s Co-op room from 1926 by AYRBRB

Next to it, there is a 2014 interpretation by AYRBRB

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colorful construction blocks, by Alma Siedhoff-Buscher

Construction blocks, by Alma Siedhoff-Buscher

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Mechanical Ballet, by Kurt Schmidt, produced in 1923 with FW Bagler and G Teltscher

Mechanical Ballet, by Kurt Schmidt, produced in 1923 with FW Bagler and G Teltscher

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Stars and Stripes, a digital print by MIRO

Stars and Stripes, a digital print by MIRO, offering a 21st century interpretation of Bauhaus’ themes concerning colour and shape

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Pictured left: desk lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld and Carl Jakob Jucker from 1923. Right: ’ti 1a’ chair by Marcel Breuer 1922

Pictured left: desk lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld and Carl Jakob Jucker from 1923. Right: ’ti 1a’ chair by Marcel Breuer, 1922

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Josef Albers’ colour works (left), and Mike Meiré’s Bauhaus tribute from 2008 (right)

The exhibition plays on the juxtaposition of quintessential Bauhaus experiments and their influence on today’s creatives, as evinced in Josef Albers’ colour works (left), and Mike Meiré’s Bauhaus tribute from 2008 (right)

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Pictured left: a double exposure by an unknown photographer of artist and weaver Otti Berger and the school’s facade, from 1931. Right: Hiroshi Sugimoto’s image of one of the stairways inside the building, from 2013

Archive photography completes the exhibition, offering visitors a glimpse of Bauhaus life and its players, as well as its iconic Dessau building. Pictured left: a double exposure by an unknown photographer of artist and weaver Otti Berger and the school’s facade, from 1931. Right: Hiroshi Sugimoto’s image of one of the stairways inside the building, from 2013

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Pictured left: a design proposal for a multimedia exhibition by Herbert Bayer, 1924. Right: Max Bill’s Der Eilbote, a watercolour work from 1928

Pictured left: a design proposal for a multimedia exhibition by Herbert Bayer, 1924. Right: Max Bill’s Der Eilbote, a watercolour work from 1928

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION

’The Bauhaus #itsalldesign’ is on view until 28 Feburary 2016

ADDRESS

Vitra Design Museum
Charles-Eames-Str. 2
D-79576, Weil am Rhein

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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.