bauhaus imaginista presented the exhibition Moving Away at the opening of the China Design Museum. A range of objects, prototypes, archival material, as well as plans and studies of urban projects will be shown alongside original works from the academy’s collection of Chinese modern design. In China, bauhaus imaginista focuses on how universal design principles were developed, adapted, expanded or renewed by designers and architects in different social and political contexts. The exhibition will shed light on the ways in which Bauhaus principles have been discussed, translated and adapted over the course of the twentieth century to the present day including in the former USSR, India, North Korea and China.
bauhaus imaginsta: Moving Away, Hangzhou
- China Design Museum on the Campus of China Academy of Art, Hangzhou
- Nanshan Campus Address: 218 Nanshan Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
- Xiangshan Campus Address: Zhuantang Straight Street, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
Marcel Breuer, Collage „ein bauhaus-film“, in: bauhaus. zeitschrift für gestaltung, Nr. 1, 1926, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.
The way in which a Bauhaus’s design ethos spread internationally, its institutional role and its evolution from within diverse cultures, forms the basis of the bauhaus imaginista exhibition Moving Away. The title indicates both the migration of Bauhaus ideas, as well as the distance produced by time and geography.
Marcel Breuer’s filmstrip ein bauhaus-film. fünf jahre lang (a bauhaus film. five years long, 1926) visualizes the development of chair design from crafted object to industrial prototype towards a future where designed objects become obsolete. Breuer wrote about the need for design to evolve in response to changing needs, something to consider when reflecting on the international reception of Bauhaus ideas. The collage appeared in the Bauhaus magazine, no. 1 (1926) as an advertisement, reflecting the attempt to sell and promote Bauhaus products designed by students and teachers in a more creative and ironic way.
While Breuer’s collage addresses the chair – the magazine’s contents introduce the reader to the basic principle of Bauhaus design, which was to go beyond the individual object in order to think about the building as a whole. This meant the development of new designs for cups, chairs, textiles, wall colours and flooring, through to campus architecture, single houses and housing estates. In its later period this extended from environmental and urban studies to city planning on a grand scale. Bauhaus ideas, including the potential for modern design to transform the human environment, has spread throughout the world to, for example, the United States, the Soviet Union, China, India, Mexico, Chile, Iran and North-Korea. Never as pure dissemination, but always accepted and rejected in relation to local conditions.
Two decades after the Bauhaus closed its doors the HfG Ulm (founded in 1953) continued but also contested Bauhaus ideas. It regularly hired Bauhaus masters and students to teach a version of the preliminary course, based on a visual and tactile training in colour and form, considered a basic qualification for new students. When HfG Ulm developed links with the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad (founded in 1961) and the Industrial Design Centre (IDC) in Mumbai (founded in 1969), aspects of the preliminary course were incorporated into the Indian curriculum, along with workshop based teaching. From the perspective of post war Germany and post-Independence India, design was understood by these schools as a catalyst for economic reconstruction, and in India it was also seen as a development tool that could utilise centuries old Indian crafts traditions, as well as artisan and vernacular skills, through field work and projects undertaken by students.
Bauhaus ideas entered China through architects such as Richard Paulick, who was Walter Gropius’ assistant and Wang Dahong (a student of Gropius). Both were hired to teach at the Architecture Department of St. John's University established in 1942, which had a curriculum that directly referenced the Bauhaus model. After 1945, these two architects played an important role in the development of a Greater Shanghai Plan, a modern urban project based on rationalist principles. In the same period, the renowned Chinese architect Liang Sicheng began a new approach to teaching architecture at the Tsinghua University (Beijing) which was strongly influenced by Gropius. Subsequently, during the cultural revolution Bauhaus ideas were attacked as bourgeois, but in recent decades have they been rehabilitated in China.
The way in which a Bauhaus’s design ethos spread internationally, its institutional role and its evolution from within diverse cultures, forms the basis of the bauhaus imaginista exhibition Moving Away. The title indicates both the migration of Bauhaus ideas, as well as the distance produced by time and geography. The exhibition will be presented as part of the opening of the China Design Museum (located on the China Academy of Arts campus Hangzhou). It will feature a range of objects and prototypes for commercial production as well as plans and studies of architectural and urban projects, which will be shown alongside original works from the academy’s collection of Western modernist design. To accompany the exhibition, an international symposium (April 9–10, 2018) will address a rich history of Bauhaus’s relationship with design and architecture in Asia.
Shanghai urban planning and design institute, The Explanatory Drawing of "urban plan" made by Shanghai Urban Planning Commission Secretariat, 1940s, Private collection.