The influence of the Bauhaus on Design and the way we teach art and design

When considering the origins of modern day design, art and design teachers often focus on the evolution and creative legacy of the Bauhaus.  The outcomes and creative impact of which can still be felt today, particularly concerning their creative fusion of functionalism and the aesthetic in their pursuit of art and industry. 

  • The State Bauhaus was founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 in Weimar, Germany, as a unification of the schools of fine arts and crafts. Over the period of its development in Weimar and then Dessau up to 1933, it evolved towards a radical modernisation of liberal and applied arts, technology and architecture into what might now be considered as the first school of Design and origins of the modern style.

This is important for art and design teachers because the Bauhaus revolutionised the teaching of art, craft and design around creativity and experimentation, informing the way we still teach today, in our schools and in colleges of art and design.


  • Georg Muche, painter, architect, Bauhaus teacher and manager of the weaving workshop, is often quoted in the context of a perceived tension between the areas of art and of design, as though they are polarised dimensions. In his article entitled ‘Creative Art and Industrial Form’, he considers whether ‘Art cannot be bound by unity’, inferring that “Art and technology are not a new unity. They remain, in their creative values, essentially unlike each other.” This statement appears to refute the Bauhaus policies of creative unification of the arts, first established by Walter Gropius. Muche went on to suggest that “An artistic form element is a foreign body in an industrial product. A connection with technology makes art into a useless something or other – art which alone can afford a view beyond the boundaries of thought into the great limitless realm of creation.” It is interesting to note that there are still some within the art and design community challenged by the relationship design has with art.
  • The original debates begun at the Bauhaus in the early 20th century and rooted in the birth of modernism continue. The evolution of design through industrialisation and technology, before the digital evolution, again transformed the scope and impact design is having on society.  It is through technology and digital technologies that design has evolved to become less polarised and more embedded within every aspect of art, of craft and the full range of design based activity.