Monday, 14 May 2012


For my publication I am going to look at 5 Design companies that all were modernist designers or took strong influence from this style/movement.  After looking at the five chosen manifestos closely I found they were good designers to pick for the modernist aspect but in terms of the content of some of the manifestos they didn't state clearly their intentions or displayed it in a way where I could analyse the motivational language used so I think I'm going to focus more on modernism and the five design companies Ive chosen and include the manifestos in a smaller way.  Instead of basing it on manifestos I will look into the modernist movements and influences its had on modern graphic designers and do a small case study on each of the companies in the form of a book.



The ultimate aim of all creative activity is a building! The decoration of buildings was once the noblest function of fine arts, and fine arts were indispensable to great architecture. Today they exist in complacent isolation, and can only be rescued by the conscious co-operation and collaboration of all craftsmen. Architects, painters, and sculptors must once again come to know and comprehend the composite character of a building, both as an entity and in terms of its various parts. Then their work will be filled with that true architectonic spirit which, as "salon art", it has lost.
The old art schools were unable to produce this unity; and how, indeed, should they have done so, since art cannot be taught? Schools must return to the workshop. The world of the pattern-designer and applied artist, consisting only of drawing and painting must become once again a world in which things are built. If the young person who rejoices in creative activity now begins his career as in the older days by learning a craft, then the unproductive "artist" will no longer be condemned to inadequate artistry, for his skills will be preserved for the crafts in which he can achieve great things.
Architects, painters, sculptors, we must all return to crafts! For there is no such thing as "professional art". There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman. By the grace of Heaven and in rare moments of inspiration which transcend the will, art may unconsciously blossom from the labour of his hand, but a base in handicrafts is essential to every artist. It is there that the original source of creativity lies.
Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us desire, conceive, and create the new building of the future together. It will combine architecture, sculpture, and painting in a single form, and will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith.

Gropius himself said,"The Bauhaus does not pretend to be a crafts school; contact with industry is consciously sought...the old craft workshops will develop into industrial laboratories: from their experimentation will evolve standards for industrial production...The teaching of a craft is meant to prepare for designing for mass production. Starting with the simplest tools and least complicated jobs, he gradually acquires ability to master more intricate problem and to work with machinery, while at the same time he keeps in touch with the entire process of production from start to finish." (Naylor, p.93) Bauhaus teaching aimed to develop rational principles to determine the organization of type, rules, white space, colors, etc.(Livingston, p.145)

The Bauhaus firmly establish industrial design. It stripped away the decoration, and left clean lines of function. To some this represents the removal of all that is human in the crafts. To the teachers and followers of the involved in the Bauhaus, function was the primary concern, removing the past was a secondary consequence. The Bauhaus ushered in the modern era of design. While there were similar movements, such as the de Stijl, the Bauhaus has become the symbol of modern design. It did achieve many of Gropius's goals. It left a legacy for visual communication programs, art and design schools to follow. Many of these schools use the courses developed at the Bauhaus.
A Primer of Visual Literacy by Donis A. Donis (1973) is one of the most widely used books in visual communications courses. In this book the author state the following of the Bauhaus:
Their probing for a means to reconcile the artist and the machine became the inspiration for the "Bauhaus," an art school started by Walter Gropius and a distinguished group of teachers in Germany directly after the ending of the war, in 1919. Its purpose was to pursue new forms and new solutions to man's basic needs as well as his aesthetic ones. The Bauhaus' curriculum returned to fundamentals, the basic materials, the basic rules of design. And the question they dared to ask led to new definitions of beauty in the unadorned and practical aspects of the functional.

Functional Techniques:
  • Simpicity
  • Symmetry
  • Angularity
  • Abstraction
  • Consistency
  • Unity
  • Organization
  • Economy
  • Subtlety
  • Continuity
  • Regularity
  • Sharpness
  • Monochomaticity

The Bauhaus influenced Later art movements such as Abstract Expressionists and Op-Art. The Abstract Expressionist's theme revolved around the color theories which evolved from the Bauhaus classes. The Hard-Edge and Minimal movements of the Abstract Expressionists explored color through clean, clear edges of solid color.(Piper, p.686) Op-Art is optical art, which tricks the retina to create the illusion of movment.(Piper, p.708) Op-Art is widely used in modern commercial graphic design.

Chronology of the Bauhausand of Bauhaus Design

The following short summary shall give a survey of the most important data regarding the Bauhaus, the Hochschule für Gestaltung, at which during the Weimar Republic in Germany the leading artists of their time had gathered. Here came into being works and products in the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, typography, photography, textile creation, and design. These products define Bauhaus design, and nowadays they undisputedly belong among the „classics" of modernity. The school's importance and artistical success traces back not only to its excellent teachers, but also to the workshop-type of teaching as well as the fertile interplay of its various disciplines.

The „Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar" is created from the grand-ducal Hochschule für Bildende Kunst and the Kunstgewerbeschule. Its initiator and first head is Walter Gropius. Participants at the very first Meisterratssitzung (Council Meeting of Masters) are, among others, Lyonel Feininger, Johannes Itten, and Gerhard Marcks. In April the programmatic Bauhaus Manifesto is heing published.
Oskar Schlemmer drafts the Bauhaus signet, with which the School wants to present itself externally.
Johannes Itten leaves the Bauhaus. The Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy is appointed. In its very first exhibition and week of events the Bauhaus introduces itself to the public.
Following the change of government in favour of the right-wing parties in Thuringia all Bauhaus Masters are being given notice to quit their work.
The council of the city of Dessau agrees to put a new homestead at the Bauhaus's disposal and lets Gropius work out the design for a new school-building and new Master-houses.
The Bauhaus at Dessau is being acknowledged as a Hochschule für Gestaltung; the buildings are completed.
Gropius retires as head; he is succeeded by the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer. Herbert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, and László Moholy-Nagy are leaving the Bauhaus.
Out of political reasons Meyer is being dismissed. He is succeeded by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
The recently elected national socialist city council of Dessau closes the Bauhaus, the work of which will be continued in a private school frame in Berlin.
Police actions of the Gestapo against the School, Masters, and students. The last Council Meeting of Masters agrees on the definite dissolution of the Institute.

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