I've always been down with style over substance. When my weird Scottish high school art teacher Mr McLean (who let us listen to The Buzzcock's 'Orgasm Addict' in class) introduced me to Art Nouveau I fell in love with its exaggerated ornamental feminine forms. Paris Metro? Yes please. Beardsley and Mucha's gorgeous statuesque women? Too, too cool.
So I was initially unimpressed with the whole 'functional design' ethos of the Bauhaus movement that followed. It all sounded rather structured, overly strict, masculine and well...darkly, frighteningly German. Dumbo soon saw the error of my ways when I came to appreciate the huge impact Walter Gropius's vision had achieved during the short Weimar period. You know you're onto something once you get closed on account of your degenerative influence.
The Modernist Bauhaus influence on architecture, interiors, furniture and graphics made the centuries of ornamental craftsmanship preceding it seem hopelessly outdated. Clean, minimalist design harmonised an object's aesthetic with its function. Mass production linked the design of household products with the increasing industrialisation of the age. A new post-war era had arrived and didn't it look agonisingly hip.
I did the triple-threat Bauhaus pilgrammage to Berlin, Weimar and Dessau on my travels, visiting many of the original still-functioning buildings. It was a real privilege to see the remnants of a socially democratic vision of a well-designed environment made real. Next stop Israel for the post-WW2 chapter.
Images courtesy of Google