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Centenary of the Bauhaus

Deirdre Dyson’s ANGULUS rug, originally designed for the V&A Museum‘s Modernism exhibition

2019 marks the centenary of the Bauhaus, one of the most significant movements in art and design of the 21st Century.

In 1919, Walter Gropius became the director of a new institution created from the merger of two art schools in Weimar.  This new school, the Staatliches Bauhaus, was to be known simply as the Bauhaus.  Even though Gropius was an architect and the term ‘Bauhaus’ literally translates as “construction house,” it did not solely concentrate on architecture, it was a school encompassing all elements of art and design.

Gropius aim was “to create a new guild of craftsmen, without the class distinctions which raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist.” Combining influences from modernism, the English Arts and Crafts movement, and Constructivism, Gropius promoted the idea that design was to serve the community and exist in its purist form, epitomised in the Bauhaus principle ‘Form follows function’.

The interdisciplinary nature of the Bauhaus realised the concept of “Gesamtkunstwerk,” or complete work of art, meaning the visual arts, graphic design product and furniture design as well as architecture combined to create a cohesive environment comprising simple, elegant geometric shapes, solid colours and minimalist spaces.

Having moved over the course of its existence from Weimar to Dessau and finally Berlin, the Bauhaus was closed by the Nazis in 1933 for producing ‘degenerate art’.  Despite this suppression, the Bauhaus lived on and it’s ideologies spread as many of its staff and students fled Germany bringing the school’s idealistic concepts with them, influences that continue to have an impact on design today.

Despite being known as a minimalist discipline, The Bauhaus felt an understanding of colour was of paramount importance and colour theories taught as part of the school’s foundation course by artists Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Josef Albers formed the basis of contemporary colour theory. This included expanding the colour wheel, developing ideas of colour contrast, exploring the psychological effects of colour and their spiritual and transcendental nature.

Other Bauhuas luminaries included Josef’s wife Anni Albers, Hinnerk Scheper, Georg Muche, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer, Joost Schmidt, Marcel Breuer, Lyonel Feininger, Gunta Stölzl and Oskar Schlemmer, Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Like any colourist, Deirdre Dyson’s designs inadvertently pay homage to the Bauhaus concepts and artists, with both the application of colour theory and form but some of Deirdre’s rug designs really do make a more obvious nod to the movement, none more so than ANGULUS with its stark geometry and solid colours.

Several of Deirdre’s designs or bespoke reworkings never make it to the loom, so for a bit of fun, we’ve trawled through the archive to find some other Deirdre Dyson designs which illustrate Bauhaus principles of form and colour, here’s what we’ve found.

An alternate working of Deirdre Dyson’s WINDOWS created for a scheme in New York

 

A carpet design by Deirdre Dyson based on rectangles and squares
A reworking of Deirdre Dyson’s ODEON design, entitled ENCOMPASS concept design for a project in New York

 

A simple geometric design created by Deirdre Dyson
Deirdre Dyson’s OVERLAY rug design reminiscent of Josef Alber’s ‘Homage to the Square’ (below)