Bauhaus ideas 🧰
last year was the 100th anniversary of the founding of one of the most influential and experimental academic institutions in modern history — Bauhaus School of Design. while traveling through Europe for a month last summer, i started hearing about this really experimental school that did things differently and was perceived by many of the folks i looked up to as being revolutionary. then after learning more about all of the interesting interdisciplinary (or antidisciplinary) design patterns that were actually embedded into the school’s curriculum. i was hooked.
if you are unfamiliar (and even if you are familiar), i recommend watching the following short video done by Quartz last year about the roots and the impact of the Bauhaus.
the goals of the Bauhaus 💭
the school itself was founded with three main goals — “The school's first aim was to rescue all the arts from the isolation in which each then (allegedly) found itself and to train the craftsmen, painters and sculptors of the future to embark on cooperative projects in which all their skills would be combined...The second aim was to elevate the status of the crafts to that which the 'fine arts' enjoyed… The third aim... was to establish 'constant contact with the leaders of the crafts and industries of the country.”  the school also is known for a minimal aesthetic that is perhaps best embodied by the notion that form follows function.
in and of themselves, you might not find these goals to be revolutionary. however, i think the deeper context is particularly illuminating. when the Bauhaus was founded in Germany in 1919, there was a concern that the new machines being developed would take the humanity out of architecture. this concern emanated from all the death and destruction wrought by machines and new technologies used in WWI. there was also tremendous political tension between German nationalists and the more global-minded people.
viewing the Bauhaus’ goals in a different light, they can also be seen as strategies to overcome these tensions — the experimentation with new technologies led to the creation of new techniques that could instill human qualities into the new machines; the elevated status of crafts into the total work of art (Bauhaus literally translates to Total House) reinforces the importance of inclusion of different disciplines and viewpoints in the building process; and, the connection to industry generates political goodwill that can help support the school’s goals while ensuring it is sustainable on its own.
the legacy of the Bauhaus 📖
much of the legacy of the Bauhaus can be seen as coming directly from the school’s goals. the Bauhaus curriculum was based on a notion that the disciplines associated with building were all interrelated and as such, students had to all take a preliminary course (vorlehre) during their first year of study and then continue on into the more specific aspects of the subject of their studies with a solid foundation upon which the rest of their knowledge would rest.
photo from the Getty Research Institute; this overview is also good at a high level.
some of the specific outputs of the Bauhaus include the enduring legacy of the preliminary course as a staple at most design and art institutes, the proliferation of color theory (e.g., Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers) and the relationship between function and form, as well as the lasting impact seen in buildings throughout the world.
there are a ton of great examples of works that came out of the Bauhaus in AnOther Mag
indeed, a year ago when i was living in Cambridge, MA. it was actually the week of Halloween and i remember discovering that the founder of the Bauhaus School of Design, Walter Gropius, became the Dean of Architecture at Harvard after the Nazis closed the school down for being too cosmopolitan. this realization came because i had been learning about the Bauhaus School of Design during my free time and one day, while walking around Harvard looking for a coffee shop, i started seeing buildings that looked eerily similar to those in the books i was reading. for reference, i have included a photo of the building that caused me to see this connection and a picture of the Bauhaus for reference.
Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
this photo is from Dezeen’s Guide to Bauhaus Architecture and Design. check it out!
the legacy of the Bauhaus has impacted the works of numerous famous designers and sculptors since then. after the school shut down, Josef Albers went on to run the art program at Black Mountain College in North Carolina — this is where R. Buckminster Fuller came up with the notion of the geodesic dome. the notion of antidisciplinary space, which serves as part of the foundation of the MIT Media Lab can also be viewed as an extension of the same types of experimentation embedded into the curriculum that the Bauhaus popularized. then, for me on a personal level, the Bauhaus has served as a map to help understand how to continue developing the notion of Computational Law as a new architecture or organizing principle for the profession.
Legal Tech Academy - podcast 🎧
this week, i will be recording a podcast with my dear friend & main co-conspirator in work-related things, Dazza Greenwood. we’ll be recording an episode of Legal Tech Academy with Alexandra Andhov on Wednesday from 9:00-10:00 am Central Time.
Global Ventures Course - lecture 🌐
meeting at its regularly scheduled time this coming Thursday
we know the Bauhaus was a great design school, but did you also know that Bauhaus is a great band as well? last Halloween, our team had just finished hosting the Beta Launch event for the MIT Computational Law Report. after the event finished, i found myself indulging with a celebratory beverage and a tasty, griddle-fried hotdog from Trina’s Starlite Lounge. however, an additional reason why i chose to talk about the Bauhaus School of Design this particular week is because a year ago when i was sitting at that bar, eating a hotdog and having a beer, there were like 5 random strangers sitting at the bar eating and drinking and “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” came on and we all started talking about how great a song it was. this playlist starts off with that song and then gets into some equally heavy music from such favorites as Les Rallizess Dénudés, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, Fugazi, the Modern Lovers, and Lower Dens.
seeing as this weekend is Halloween, i’d also be remiss not to include a link to NAHPI’s “Do They Know It’s Halloween?” if you like independent music, this song is a banger. included in this >4 minute song are excerpts from members from Arcade Fire, Beck, David Cross, J’amie from Islands, Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley, Roky Erickson, Subtitle, members from Wolf Parade, and Karen O. the video is also really cool.
much love and all the best,
[*] the picture at the very beginning of the article is from 99 designs. i set the image so that it is linked, but you should also check out their overview of the influence of Bauhaus on modern logo design.
 Frank Whitford, Bauhaus (1984) [link]