The Bauhaus was a German school of Art and Design that had a tremendous influence on architecture and industrial design in the 20th Century. It was founded in 1919 by the archetect Walter Gropius in the city of Weimar.
Gropius followed the ideas of the 19th Century English designer, William Morris, who felt that art should meet the needs of society and that the form of an object should reflect its function. "Form Follows Function" became the mantra of the Bauhaus school and the sleek, polished surfaces of its industrial design, stripped clean of Victorian ornamentation and gingerbread, became known as the "International Style".
Although Gropius declared his school to be apolitical, his revolutionary design principles attracted both faculty and students with socialist views and earned the mistrust of the more conservative element. The Bauhaus lost much of its government funding when a more conservative party gained control of the state government. He closed the Bauhaus in 1925 and moved the school to Dessau. The school came under increasing pressure during the 1930s as the Nazi Party gained power. Some of it's leading instructors, including Gropius' successor, Hannes Meyer, were outspoken Communists. Adolf Hitler detested modernism in art and suspected the Bauhaus of being subversive.
The Nazis closed the Bauhaus in 1933 and its teachers and students fled across the globe, carrying with them the gospel of the International Style. Miles van der Rohe, the last director, became an important force in American archetecture. The Bauhaus look left its stamp on everything from office buildings to toasters to posters to furniture. Ironically, when building the Autobahn, Hitler's chief engineer wound up using Bauhaus-influenced designs in some of its bridges and overpasses.
In many ways, the Bauhaus defined how the future looked for much of the 20th Century.
Game and Story Use
- A historical or time travel campaign set between the World Wars could involve a visit to the Bauhaus school or an encounter with one of its artists.
- Although Gropius himself was apolitical, and considered himself patriotic, many students and faculty at the Bauhaus had decidedly Socialist views. The school may serve as a setting for political and international intrigue.
- Pictures of some of the Bauhaus designs can give a good feel for the "look" of the Art Deco era.
- Making the Bauhaus actually a subversive element could be a premise for a campaign. "You're all art students in Nazi Germany. Hitler closed down your school, but your professors aren't giving up and have been continuing to teach both design and resistance in 'informal gatherings'. Go."