Design History #1: The Bauhaus School

What can designers today learn from a group of 1920s creatives from Germany? This was a question I confronted as I dived into the history of graphic design.

For those of you who are new to this blog, I’m a content writer who is also an aspiring creative. And, unlike many of my fellow graphic designers, I did not attend art school for four years.

On this quest to update my education, I learned that many of the principles of the Bauhaus School are so very relevant for graphic designers today. It is important, however, to briefly outline the group’s origins before proceeding further.

Established in 1922 by Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus School moved through three German cities and different leadership for the duration of its existence. It aimed to be a place where the multiple branches of art met, although it did not have a school of architecture at the beginning

This is supremely ironic because it’s founder was an architect. But there were places where the institute took after Gropius. For example, he intended that it would be an apolitical place in the heavily political environment in the Germany of the 1920s. And it was, until the Nazi regime persecuted it to the point of closure.

The Bauhaus School of art propagated the belief that mass production of goods and individual artistic style are not mutually exclusive. The artists there believed that “form follows function”, which essentially means that the function of a design is more important than the form. In other words, beauty was secondary to the utility of any design.

I think that this is so important for new designers because the pressure of creating an outstanding portfolio can overwhelm us to the point of not creating at all. Writers also suffer from this, particularly those of us who work in high-stress environments such as the advertising industry. Therefore, to stop being distracted by the look of the product and focus on building its core utility can be very freeing.

Photo by Ross Sokolovski on Unsplash