If you know even a little bit about me, then you know that I am passionate about diversity and design. Those topics, don’t always necessarily relate, but in this case, they very much do.
At the beginning of the last century, some one hundred years ago, the Bauhaus school for art and design was founded by a forward thinking German architect named Walter Gropius. Gropius quickly gathered a number of amazing designers, architects and artists around him that formed a historical movement called modernism that shapes our world to this day.
Many of the participants of the Bauhaus came from all over the world, as far as Japan, Russia (and Switzerland ;’). Many of the members were already well established and known, or on their way to fame, and all to rarely fortune.
A large and important group has seen very little study though until very recently, they are the women of the Bauhaus. While socially open and artistically avant-garde, the old-boys network was still very much a reality and many of the women had were forced to focus on weaving and ceramics, and had to work extra hard to climb the ladder at the school. Here are some key protagonists:
_Anni Albers: should be more well known for her works on paper, experimentations with material and her textiles, than for being the wife of Josef Albers. Though she did influence his painting practice in addition to creating her own distinct body of work. Some of her textiles are still produced today.
_Marianne Brandt: Her design and photographic work is one of my personal favorites. Her contributions in industrial design were so significant that she eventually became the director of the metal workshop, one of the most important roles in a key workshop at the Bauhaus. Check out her teapots, ashtrays and lamps are stunningly elegant (and some still produced today), while her collages are playful and deeply layered.
_Gunta Stoelzl: Her textile work is not only beautiful in itself, but also influenced some of the most important furniture designer Marcel Breuer. She was among the leaders in both technical and visual innovation in her field and her work is graceful and poetic.
I’d be remiss to mention Lily Reich. Her contributions are least known, as she’s overshadowed by her companion of many years, architect and designer Mies van der Rohe. What is commonly known as MvdR furniture, including the Barcelona chair, was – if nothing else – heavily influenced by Lily’s designs and it’s worth noting that MvdR didn’t do successful modern furniture before or after his relationship with Lily.
There were many more women at the Bauhaus and here is some more background information:
Book on the topic
I continue to be inspired by these creators and achievements and am glad that they persevered and created lasting achievements in their fields.