13.–19.01.2020 for all: 17.–19.01.2020

Passages/Halls 3-11

100 years bauhaus - work in Progress

At 100 years old, Bauhaus combines the unique dynamic impact of an exceptional institution that was once a place for teaching and experimentation, a campus and a production community. Today one would call it a think tank, although teaching and creation also took place at the Bauhaus. Contradictory perceptions of the teaching personalities appointed in Weimar in 1919 quickly prompted discussions and led to repeated arguments with regard to the direction the Bauhaus was to follow until its closure in 1933.

And yet it was already a brand by 1930. Ernst Kállai wrote at the time:

"Today everyone knows. Homes with a lot of glass and shining metal: Bauhaus style. The same with regard to living hygiene without living mood: Bauhaus style. Steel pipe frames: Bauhaus style. Cubed wall coverings: Bauhaus style. No pictures on the wall: Bauhaus style. Picture on the wall, but what does it mean? Bauhaus style. Printed matter with thick bars and grotesque fonts: Bauhaus style. Everything in lower case: Bauhaus style EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS: BAUHAUS STYLE.

The Hungarian publicist was rightfully emphasising that Bauhaus was primarily an "extremely effective propagandist" facility for experimentation and a place for non-academic teaching for the designers of a modern world. This was promoted in the in-house Bauhaus magazine, in which students reported on their experiences. Today we speak of evalution. At that time this wasn't only way ahead of its time, as technical form and "art that doesn't die of technology" were consistently propagated (Quote: Georg Muche).

Bauhaus sketch

Bauhaus is the foundation for the design world of the present: focused at an early date on the development of innovative concepts and work processes we describe as "works in progress." The history of Bauhaus thus didn't end in 1933, but instead continues, as its teachers and students advanced its work worldwide. The related dynamic impact contributed to many Bauhaus approaches still being very much up to date today.

What distinguishes, for example, the timeless modernity of a glass lamp designed by Wilhelm Wagenfeld in 1924, and why do chairs that were designed almost 90 years ago by Marcel Breuer still remain suitable for sensibly accompanying our everyday life? Companies like Knoll, Technolumen, Tecta and Thonet demonstrate with proven product examples how it goes without saying that Bauhaus is still part of a modern interiors world in 2019.

The exhibition also shows that the Deutsche Werkbund (German association of craftsmen), founded jointly by manufacturers and designers in 1907, laid the foundation for this. As one of the earliest Werkbund activists, Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius was ultimately a guarantor for the efforts of the DWB to increase the quality of the "trades economy" through interdisciplinary creation.

That there was also a consciousness of the importance of these progressive forces in Cologne after 1945 is shown by the event of the trend-setting Werkbund exhibition, which took place in 1949 in the provisionally restored Staatenhaus of Koelnmesse. Our current special event reminds of this internationally highly regarded exhibition, at which the second generation of Bauhaus students successfully presented their works.

© Dr. Thomas Schriefers, Cologne, 10.11.2018

Within the context of the event The Stage (Hall 3.1), the following lectures will focus on the Bauhaus topic:

Monday, 14.01.2019


Event: Bauhaus as a Brand?

Speaker: Dr. Thomas Schriefers


Event: Inspired by Bauhaus. People and ideas at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm

Speaker: Christiane Wachsmann | Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm


Event: Bauhaus between Then and Now

Speaker: Philipp Thonet | Thonet

Friday, 18.01.2019


Event: I AM A CHAIR - Werkbund, Bauhaus and the Future of Sitting

Speaker: Dr. Thomas Schriefers


Event: Woman of the Bauhaus: Marianne Brandt, Pioneer of Product Design

Speaker: Anne-Kathrin Weise | Weimarer Verlagsgesellschaft


Event: Törten - Criminal Stories from a Bauhaus Settlement

Speaker: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Natascha Meuser | Dom Publishers