If we see the current graphic design trend we can easily see some inspiration and direct influence on Bauhaus Movement, and if you have read my post about Minimalist Graphic Design Rules, you will know that minimalism and Bauhaus are directly related sharing the same principle of Function Over Visual.
Graphic Design owes tons of similarities with Bauhaus movement and gets influenced by it, as a Bauhaus was a minimalist design style, they only used a few elements and all of them needed to have a function, this fact made that they were focus on studying the shape psychology, color theory, visual hierarchy and basic design principles which you have a single post in this blog talking about all of them because the modern graphic design also follows those principles.
Bauhaus Movement is a modern art movement that combined a wide array of art mediums, materials and disciplines, this movement born in Germany and was popular during the 1920s and 1930s and the main motto of Bauhaus Art Movement is “Form Follows Function”.
The word Bauhaus means “construction house” in german and was originated as a school of arts in the early 20th century and was founded by Walter Gropius. Originally the Bauhaus school of art counted with a really renowned artist as professors as Paul Klee, Josef Albers and Wassily Kandinsky among many others, but the school eventually converted into its own modern art movement characterized on the minimalist approach to architecture and design.
Nowadays Bauhaus Movement and aesthetic is widely known and renowned for his unique look and principles based on the function of every design elements, this makes Bauhaus a big influence on today’s graphic design principles and styles.
Bauhaus was formerly born in 1919 when German Architect Walter Gropius founded the Staatliches Bauhaus, a school focused on art that wanted to unify all art branches under one roof. In the beginning, the Bauhaus school was used as a hub for some of the most experimental and creative artists from Europe, being some of them the earl mentioned Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee among many other.
Bauhaus School Of Art was located in three different cities during his existence, Weimar, Dessau and Berlin.
The first one opened in 1919 was in Weimar where Walter Gropius founded the school of art and start the beginning of the Bauhaus movement. In Weimar School were established the visionary Bauhaus ideals and the main idea was that the art should serve a social role and remove the division of craft disciplines.
During the Weimar Bauhaus School era, the stage workshop had an important role on the education of art students and it was first directed by Lothar Schreyer from 1921 to 1923 and later followed by Oskar Schlemmer from 1923 to 1925. The role of the stage workshop was to bring together visual and performing arts and create an interdisciplinary approach.
Maybe the origins of Bauhaus movement were in Weimar, but the peak of Bauhaus was during the Dessau School. After the closure of Weimar School motivated by political interests, the Bauhaus movement moved to Dessau in 1925, and it quickly became a hotspot for this movement.
Most of the product designs and design project that we know today were made during the Dessau era, and it’s not a surprise because during that time, the Bauhaus artists were focused on designing industrial products for mass consumption and the iconic Bauhaus building designed by Walter Gropius was planned and designed in Dessau and it was inaugurated the December 4th of 1926.
After the dissolution of Dessau Bauhaus School on September 30, 1932, they moved to Berlin, where it was the last phase of the Bauhaus Movement. The Bauhaus students and masters after the closure of the Dessau School moved to an abandoned telephone factory in Berlin in October 1932, but after the persecution and pressure from the Police and SA they were forced to close definitely the School in April 1933, this fact made that there were limited works from that period.
As we saw in the Bauhaus history, it started as Art School and later evolved to a single art movement by his innovative approach of arts, and we already have seen the main motto of “form follows function” we will see some of the most important principles of Bauhaus collected in it’s manifesto from 1919.
Now that we already know the history of the Bauhaus movement and his principles it’s time to see what are the characteristics of the Bauhaus style in graphic design. The main motto of the Bauhaus movement is “form follows function” that means that they were focused on function over visual using a minimalist approach in graphic design, typography and architecture, that approach made Bauhaus teachers Herbert Bayer and Paul Kee focus on teaching the graphic design basic to their students and focusing on the color fundamentals, font psychology and fundamentals of graphic design layout.
Some key marks of the Bauhaus style in graphic design were the following:
As we have seen during this post the Bauhaus artist were really opened to new technologies and new ways of working art, this fact with the minimalist style of designing opened the basis of the modern Graphic Design. Bauhaus influenced modern graphic design in the idea on how design is treated and made and influenced graphic design principles, color theory and the use of typography design.
We can saw the influence of Bauhaus looking into typography, the new technologies and the minimalist way of looking at art during Bauhaus movement were designed really important typefaces that later will inspire the modernist fonts due to the simplicity of them focused on functionalism and accessibility, one of this new fonts is Universal designed by Herbert Bayer and commissioned by Walter Gropius in 1925.
As mentioned, the Bauhaus movement was really important on the creation of new typefaces with extra decoration making them functional and accessible to be used for different print media and signage. Some of these fonts were just experimental and never published. In the modern days, these fonts are digitalized by numerous graphic designers as for example the Joschmi typeface re-created by Flavia Zimbardi and inspired by Bauhaus typographer Joost Schmidt and for the Bauhaus Centenary typographic designer Erik Spiekermann along with some students digitize five rediscovered Bauhaus typefaces.
If we see some Bauhaus poster designs we can easily appreciate the use of geometric forms on them due to their focus on geometry and shape psychology, this focus and study of shapes have influenced the modern graphic design and help to use a more minimalist style on design giving more importance to these shapes and unconscious meanings making more clean design layouts.
The Bauhaus artists wanted to go outside the conventional grids used for design and they were focused on the experiment with grids and placement of objects trying new design layouts, these experimentation has influenced modern design layouts as they were the firsts who broked that grid.
The Bauhaus artists were advanced for their ages due to their innovative approach and focus on the function of graphic elements, some of these artists have contributed on what we know today as Graphic Design, some of them I already have mentioned during this post, but let’s see some of the most important Bauhaus artists.
Paul Klee was a Swiss and German Artist born in 1879 and it was the teacher of one of the most important courses of the Bauhaus Art School. Klee was also known before joining the Bauhaus movements, as he was one of the founders of the German Expressionist Movement and was also involved in abstraction.
Paul Klee was highly sensitive about color and that is why his work is focused on Color Theory and he changed some of the ideas regarding colors in the 20th century that are still applied to modern graphic design styles.
Josef Alber is also one of the most notorious names in the Bauhaus movement, he is a German artist and teacher in the Bauhaus School born in 1888, he partnered with Paul Klee to hold the most interesting workshops from the Bauhaus School focused in glass and furniture design.
Josef Albers was focused on material studies and formal qualities and his work emphasizes the idea that color psychology and composition are linked together. After the official closure of the Bauhaus School in 1933, he moved to the United States were he continued with his work and teaching other design students.
Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian artist member of the German Expressionist Movement who joined the Bauhaus School in 1921 to teach design students psychology of forms and emphasis color theory. Kandinsky motivated his students to understand the abstract art using color theory and shape psychology, during these years he developed his own theories regarding the use of color through psychology and perception.
Kandinsky shared the same ideas that Josef Albers that the true design was the collaboration of composition and color, taking this in the count he considered red, blue and yellow the most important colors.
László Moholy-Nagy was a Hungarian artist born in 1895, he was one of the most important and famous Bauhaus professors due to his innovative approach to art and crafts, he believed that art and craft should go together and be influenced by all disciplines.
Moholy-Nagy was the professor of the foundation course on the Bauhaus School and due to his focus on new technologies and vision, he specialized on poster design, typography and later on photography, a field where he elaborated the theory of typophoto which has converted into a central part of modern advertising design.
Herbert Bayer was the first typography designer from the Bauhaus school and he contributed to the creation of the Bauhaus style font named Universal, which was completed later on 1969 and named “Bauhaus”.
The idea from the Bauhaus School about perfect design was that it must be accessible to all, this idea inspired Herbert Bayer on the typographic field, that is why he focused on the creation of typefaces that were easy to read avoiding the use of serif and differentiate from the common German Fraktur typeface that was popular by that time. With these principles, he designed fonts focused on the function that was accessible and readable for everyone.
As we saw on this post, the Bauhaus movement has influenced a lot in modern graphic design due to his innovative approach to art and the use of new technologies and techniques, hope you found this post really useful and learn the history of the Bauhaus Movement at the same time that discover new graphic design inspiration.
If you have found this Blog Post useful you might be interested in these other blog post about Graphic Design History and Design Principles.
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