Sunday, October 26, 2008

Modernism II

The Bauhaus was a school of design located in Weimar, Germany which began in 1919. The German word “bauen” means “to build”. The school supported artistic freedom and individuality. It showed little interest in design standards and industrial movements in technology. Their main objective was a concern for the equality and collaboration between the artist and the craftsman. They were attempting to overcome any opposition between the fine and applied arts and to achieve a spiritual association with the creative process. It was all about “the craft” . The school believed that there was no such thing as “professional art”. They believed that “An artist is nothing more than an exalted artist.” According to their philosophy, the buildings of the future were to be a combination of architecture, sculpture, and painting. All three would be used to create a singular form. (Raizman 181) Professors, or “masters” taught all first year students under a common set of classes called the “Vorkurs” These classes taught students to draw connections between artistic activity and the discovery of unconscious reality. After this, students split up into areas of expertise. An example of the student’s work is the Sommerfield House in Berlin. Though it no longer exists, the house was an example of the early Bauhaus emphasis upon the integration between construction and ornamentation.
The school struggled for adequate resources because they were suffering criticism from both the government and other designers associated with the Constructivism movement. This movement was very different from that of the Bauhaus. They were structured around the practice of mechanized industrial production. The school responded to this negativity by shifting the focus of their mission and curriculum. This “shift of focus” turned into a complete 180 degree change in philosophy. This turn of events came about when Constructivist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy was appointed as the new director of the Vorkurs program. No as you remember, I mentioned the constructivists earlier on. The constructivists were the designers with a completely different philosophy who had been criticizing the Bauhaus. So as you can imagine the impact he played on the school. Naturally, when taking over the Vorkurs classes he brought in his industrial focus. He also brought in his strong commitment to mechanized mass production. He also reduced the importance of craft specialization and traditional workshop training. The spiritual association with the creative process was no longer considered important. The new philosophy was focused on an appreciation of the aesthetic potential of new industrial materials. Moholy-Nagy stated, “Constructivism is not confined to the picture frame and the pedestal. IT expands into industrial design, into house, objects, forms. It is the socialism of vision - the common property of all men (Raizman 184) .” He believed that this new theory would broaden the professional horizons for the students. And he believed that this philosophy compensated for the sacrifice of individuality. A structural example of the new curriculum is the student built Haus-Am Horn. It consisted of a large living room surrounded by smaller rectangular rooms, each intended for a specific domestic function. It was constructed of prefabricated material and was intended to be the prototype of future, cheap, quick, public housing.
Even after all of these changes, even after the original philosophy completely changed to that of the critics, the government was still not pleased and the philosophy of the Bauhaus was again repainted with new faculty and curriculum again and again. Reading this blog, what opinion have you formed regarding the philosophy of the original Bauhaus vs. the revised? Do you feel Moholy-Nagy’s ideas were beneficial, even called for. Do you believe that the Bauhaus started of with the right idea but was then corrupted?


Sara Watson said...

The origninal Bauhaus philosophy was much better than the revised one. The idea that you needed to incorporate architecture, painting and sculpture into a work is a really great idea. The structure of the teaching really appeals to me. You start out with general knowledge then you focus on the path you want to follow. I really dislike the second philosophy that Moholy-Nagy brought to Bauhaus. One thing in particular was that individualism was sacrificed to focus on industrial materials/design. Moholy-Nagy's idea was okay if it was blended more into the first philosophy. Using the industrial materials to create work. Individuality is a really important part of design; I can't imagine a world without it. The Bauhaus did start out with a good idea and then was completely changed by the Constructivism movement.

Veronica said...

The Bauhaus Community was very beneficial to modern architecture, arts and design because it brought back concepts of the past and added to the them newer, more up to date ideas.
Its very first philosophy that “it was all about the craft” was a very radical one, and it reminds of the arts and craft movement, when there was a strong relationship between the artist and the craftsmanship of his/her products.
I believe that even if this was a very drastic concept, the adjustments that were made later on improved the Bauhaus School. The addition of constructivist ideas such as the appreciation of new materials and new techniques were fundamental in shaping modern architecture and design. The combination of all fine arts and applied arts of the original philosophy with the admiration of new materials and new techniques of the constructivist ideology made the Bauhaus one of the most advanced architecture school till its closure in 1933.
I don’t necessarily think that one philosophy was better than the other, but I rather believe that they made each other better as they merged together.

Molly Rowland said...

In my opinion, the original Bauhaus philosphy was much stronger and more beneficial than the revised one.
To begin, the first philosophy focused on the "creative process." This philosphy, to me, is similar to what we follow in school today. A foundation of knowledge is built so that students can later be well rounded in their fields of study.
This idea of well rounded design is also reiterated in the Bauhaus idea of architecture, which stated that future structures were to be made up of sculpture, architecture, and painting. I agree with the idea that design should be made up of various ideas and influences.
Finally, "the craft" was a very important idea in the original Bauhaus philosphy. I believe that without a focus on craft, there is a lack of quality. And from previous design eras, it should be understood by now that consumers demand quality, and not just quantity.

Parahita Rachmani said...

Incorporating industrial design as a part of the new lifestyle and knowledge was crucial since its focus on function related to the basic needs of the society especially in the new modern world where people tended to strive for efficiency while getting their jobs done. The development of construction technique and materials had become one of the essential aspects of modern design. The Constructivist movement had taught the Bauhaus students to assist the clients and satisfy their needs in a simple, quick, efficient manner. However, concentrating on function alone would never work since arts and their aesthetic aspects are also part of human psychological needs. I personally believe that neglecting crafts and creative process completely defeats the whole purpose of designers. Designers are the intellect who not only need to provide capability for people to live their lives, but also need to touch their heart with their creativity and artistic ideas.

Elizabeth Chaffin said...

As Constructivism became the new focus of Bauhaus, I feel as it pulled away from the initial ideas of design and its purposes for the client. Production methods of this type were prefabricated, easily built, quick and cheap, which could be a good thing economically. But it also lacked the aesthetic value, which people sought out for, to reflect their styles and to make them happy. Design is, after-all, an aesthetic field that can make people happy just as doctors cure illnesses. Designers (in any aspect) help people help themselves, generally. I feel as if that was the intention of the original Bauhaus curriculum. Students were all taught basic knowledge about design and the many different paths that could eventually be taken. From there, they pretty much chose their own destiny in which route they would take. Whether their designs would incorporate elements and concepts of the past or the students would throw in ideas of their own, it was okay. For individuality was sought after at that time. The ideas that architecture, painting, and sculpture should all be an aspect of design, is a very good philosophy. First off, it allowed the designer to be creative in his or her own way. Then it allowed the space to be conducive to exhibiting aesthetically endowed happiness by those experiencing it.

This blog is intended for the interior design students in the college of design at the University of Kentucky. It was created with the intent to present students with information, providing them with a channel for contemplation and discussion.