The 3 Rules of Bauhaus
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Theory and Practice:

Bauhaus Design Principles

The Bauhaus was the single most influential modernist art school of the 20th century. Its approach to teaching, and to the relationship between art, society, and technology, had a major impact both in Europe and in the United States long after its closure under Nazi pressure in 1933.

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The Three Rules of the Bauhaus

The origins of the Bauhaus lie in the late 19th century, in anxieties about the soullessness of modern manufacturing, and fears about art's loss of social relevance. The Bauhaus aimed reunite fine art and functional design, creating practical objects with the soul of artworks.

Although the Bauhaus abandoned many aspects of traditional fine-arts education, it was deeply concerned with intellectual and theoretical approaches to its subject. Various aspects of artistic and design pedagogy were fused, and the hierarchy of the arts which had stood in place during the Renaissance was levelled out: the practical crafts - architecture and interior design, textiles and woodwork - were placed on a par with fine arts such as sculpture and painting.

Scroll down to explore the three rules.

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Rule #1

Form Follows Function

“Form follows function” is a sentence coined by Louis Sullivan, an American architect, who wanted to express the futility in excessive ornamentations, and was central to thinking in the Bauhaus school. Indeed, the Bauhaus’s final director, Mies van der Rohe, pledged the school to “honesty of construction, death to decoration”.

Professors strived to convey the idea that form had to reflect the function of the product. They thought that no message should be sacrificed in favor of design choices. Differently artistic devices were to be used to increase the utility of the work. Living by this credo, the Bauhaus designer realized linear and geometrical works avoiding the use of floral or curvilinear (and useless) decorations.

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Rule #2

Typography Matters

One of the most important classes at the Bauhaus was typography. Indeed, several teachers soon realized the essential role of types in an effective visual communication. The Bauhaus concentrated on simplified fonts and avoided the much heavier renderings of the standard German typography of the time. Designers started wrapping text around objects, and also learned to arrange type horizontally, vertically and even diagonally — which was not common at the time. They also refused to combine lower and upper case types in a same work and preferred the use of sans-serif fonts.

The innovations introduced by the Bauhaus are still very effective nowadays. In 2008, during his presidential campaign, Barack Obama visited Berlin and his speech in the city was announced by a poster very similar to those of the German school. Indeed you can see that is characterized by diagonal words and by an upper case font without serifs and by. Also, there are no pointless decorations and simple lines prevail.

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rule #3

Geometry is King

The Bauhaus showed a deep love of simple geometry — another quality that makes it a great fit for web design. Students were well-acquainted with paintings of contemporary Cubist artists, such as Picasso and Gris, and so they adopted the similar way of looking at reality. They started breaking down objects into their rawest geometric shapes, as they considered this technique as the best way to create new, and more modern items. Clean, abstract and geometric forms were constantly used to produce new common tools that could highlight the difference from the old trends of the Art Nouveau.

An example? In 1925, Marcel Breuer, a member of the Bauhaus school, designed a new model of chair, later called “Wassily Chair”. It is composed by some metal tubes and by leather bands which give an idea of fluidity and flexibility. The designer was able to realize a minimal and fluid design that lasted in years and that it is still
loved today.

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