Bauhaus School and its Influence on Mid 20th Century Scandinavian Design
The Bauhaus School – What comes to your mind when you think of Scandinavian design? If you know anything about it, you would immediately think of furniture, carpets, appliances and home accessories with pure forms and simple, clean lines. Scandinavian design is known for its elegance, minimalism, respect for natural materials, and superb craftsmanship. The key to its global popularity is the fine combination of aesthetics and utility.
Modern Scandinavian design has its roots in traditional crafts, but it owes much to the functionalism of the first half of the 20th century. One particular movement, or rather school, that has had the biggest impact on it is Bauhaus. Bauhaus was an art school in Germany that combined fine arts with craft and was famous for its revolutionary approach to design.
The Bauhaus school was founded by Walter Gropius, an architect by profession, in 1919 and closed in 1933 after the rise of the Nazis.
The Bauhaus school was located in:
- Weimar from 1919 to 1925.
- Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and in Berlin from 1932 to 1933.
The Bauhaus school flourished under the able leadership of three architect-directors:
- Walter Gropius (1919 – 1928)
- Hannes Meyer (1928 – 1930)
- Ludwig Miles van der Rohe (1930 – 1933)
These three men and their students took their knowledge to Scandinavia and other countries after they were forced to flee Nazi Germany. Over the years, they created a body of work that continues to influence today’s design.
Bauhaus became the cornerstone of the modern Scandinavian design movement that emerged in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in the 1950s. Scandinavian countries, along with Finland and Iceland, were quick to embrace the design philosophy of Bauhaus and make it their own because the love for local materials and functional forms was already embedded in their culture.
Unlike people in other European countries who longed for a luxurious lifestyle, all that the Scandinavians longed for was a comfortable and cozy home to thwart the harsh weather and long, cold and dark winter.
This imbued them with a sense of practicality that matched perfectly with the teaching of Bauhaus. This is evident in the beautiful yet practical design of modern furniture, carpets and other products made in the Scandinavian countries.
The three most important features of Scandinavian design that emerged in the mid-20th century are: good design, beauty combined with functionality, and optimum use of available resources. Great emphasis is given on simplicity, symmetry and clarity. Thus, furniture, carpet and home accessories from Scandinavian countries always have a homely coziness about them.
When talking about modern Scandinavian design, it is worth mentioning the beautiful carpets that come out of the region. Scandinavia has a long tradition of making handmade carpets. Swedish rugs from the mid-twentieth century are among the most sought after rugs today. They’re uniquely sparse and geometric patterns perfectly reflect the designer’s love for simplicity, clarity and functional forms. This is the essence of Bauhaus thinking.