The Fundamentals of Modernist Design
7 minute read time
The mastermind and driving force behind Bauhaus, wanted to democratise art and design to the masses. Although he famously couldn't draw himself, Gropius was the architect behind the Bauhaus School building in Dessau.
A house is a "Machine for living in". Arguably the most influential architect of the 20th century, Le Corbusier pioneered the modernist's approach to purposeful design. His famous five points of architecture became the mantra of an era. Villa Savoye, completed in 1931 was the epitome of this approach. His aesthetic shifted after the second world war, as the forefather of brutalism.
Villa E-1027 remains one of the quintessential modernist structures. Built between 1926-1929 its simple clean structure still looks 'modern' today. Eileen Gray, was an architect, furniture and interior designer, who smoothly transitioned from the lacquer cabinetry of the Art Deco period to the refined designs of the modernist movement.
The name alone is synonymous with the Bauhaus movement. Both furniture designer and architect his Model B3- Wassily Chair became the poster child of the modernist movement. Conceived of just two materials, leather and tubular steel, its minimalist form was surprisingly comfortable and functional. This is why it still takes pride of place in many interior schemes today.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
"Less is more" words said by one of the leading architects of the modern era. Mies is responsible for icons such as the Barcelona Pavilion and accompanying Barcelona chair. He was also the third director of the Bauhaus School and in turn oversaw its closure in April 1933 due to a politically charged Nazi Germany.
Charles and Ray Eames Plywood Chair available from Vitra. Available on eporta.
Woka Lamps Vienna Deutsches Bauhaus 1930 Flush Mount Light. Available on eporta.
Charles and Ray Eames Lounge Chair available from Vitra. Available on eporta.
Christopher Farr Forty Five Rug. Available on eporta.
Stellar Works Triangle Chair Walnut. Available on eporta.
Polvara Cube For Modular Shelving System. Available on eporta.
Hamilton Conte Delano Gloss Lacquered Folding Screen. Available on eporta.
Power to the machine
Modernist graphic design, introduced us to the concept of blank space as the antidote to traditionally elaborate and overly decorated posters of the Victorian era. This breathing space was soon applied to interior spaces too.
One of the most widely used fonts in the world, came from humble modernist beginnings. Designed as a juxtaposition to the overly styled fussy fonts of the last century it was created to be clean, simple and grid-like in form. Calligraphic flicks were replaced with abrupt endings at the end of each character.
Less is more
The tagline of Ludwig Mies van de Rohe and the modernist movement has stood the test of time. It has allowed us to translate and understand the paired back Scandinavian aesthetic and epitomises many's understanding of minimalist design. It begs the question, that without Bauhaus, could there have been Ikea?
Brutalism is credited with favouring concrete, however, it was utilised throughout the modernist era as an affordable material for social housing. Whilst not welcoming of modernism at the time, it has had a profound effect on the UK's approach to town planning and an array of brutalist structures such as the Barbican.
The turn of the 20th century saw electricity become universal. It was the first time that focus was really placed on lighting design, and one of the greatest inventions of the time were Anglepoise lights. Discovered in 1932 by a mechanical engineer, George Carwardine, when researching car suspension. The innovation allowed the user to direct an electrical light source for the first time to where it was needed.
Image: Pooky Farrell Anglepoise Floor Lamp. Available on eporta.