The Bauhaus Ideal Then and Now: An Illustrated Guide to Modern Design

The Bauhaus Ideal Then and Now: An Illustrated Guide to Modern Design

William Smock

Language: English

Pages: 150

ISBN: 0897335902

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Bauhaus Ideal is both a picture book and a guidebook to the fascinating and enduring legacy of modernist design, and to the continuing influence of Bauhaus on interior design—not just on architecture, but also on furniture, glassware, tableware, and kitchen utensils: the whole range of domestic arts.

This unique volume introduces modern design principles and examines them from an historically critical perspective. It concludes with some ideas for melding modern solemnity with postmodern irony. And in each phase the illustrations speak as eloquently as the text—the whole serves as a beautifully illustrated design memo.

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Smock with the following exceptions: Page 12: Catalogue page from Isamu Noguchi · Rosanjin Kitaoji, Osaka, Yomiuri Shimbun, 1996, page 169. Photos by Kevin Noble courtesy of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation. Used by permission. Page 42: Graphic design example ©2003 Grace Sullivan. Used by permission Page 65: Symbols from Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam Page 78: Olympic sports palace, Rome, 1960. Figure 131 from Aesthetics and Technology in Building by Pier Luigi Nervi, Cambridge, Harvard University

and regular geometric forms—square, triangle, circle. Bauhaus designers came to assume that Euclidean shapes and pure, strong colors are the vocabulary of visual language. Most modern design pioneers in Europe and America got this idea in kindergarten.1 1 See Norman Brosterman, Inventing Kindergarten. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997. The Language of Vision 57 Kindergarten was an Enlightenment idea: education should not pump knowledge into children’s heads, but help them use what they

optical telescopes look low tech—sheet metal triangles bolted together. Why did this pattern win out over Fuller’s? Is it possible that the geodesic dome was overbuilt? A sphere is the smallest surface required to contain a given volume. But unless you are garaging an elephant, you have to build floors in order to use the space. That calls for a rectangular framework. And a dome is a very inefficient way to cover a box. If you build floors out to the dome itself, the problem is concave walls.

unforeseen bonuses like the walkway around the building, hidden behind stainless steel sails, offering views across the city. This is the main lobby, four stories tall. Departing altogether from a perpendicular grid, architects had to harmonize big curves and sharp angles in three dimensions. They succeeded. To my amazement, all those errant edges meet in a satisfying way. The curving ramps relate to the jutting balconies, the plaster surfaces complement wood–faced columns and painted steel xi

modish as any other style. Banham says modernist buildings tend to be structurally conventional, unlike, say, Buckminster Fuller’s daring pylon-hung Dymaxion House. He agrees with Fuller that International Style architects “demonstrated fashion-inoculation without necessity of knowledge of the scientific fundamentals of structural mechanics and chemistry” (p. 326). Brolin, Brent C. The Failure of Modern Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1976. A low-key critique of modernist dogma by

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