Dessau – Design – Destiny

Earlier this year Stradling Collection Friend and volunteer Tanya Martin took advantage of the opportunity to spend a few nights at the iconic Bauhaus building in Dessau. This year being the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, what better to do it. Over to Tanya –

Our trip to Bauhaus from Bristol in April 2019 was surprisingly quick and easy: an hour and a half flight to Berlin Schönefeld Airport and just over an hour by road (mostly autobahn) in a rented car to Dessau.

One moment we are driving along a sleepy provincial road passing typical post-war apartment blocks and small offices, and the next moment – suddenly and without any warning, comes the most recognisable façade in the design world  the matt grey wall with the famous vertical lettering in Bauhaus typeface!

 

As it is already Friday evening our first experience is not of the School itself but of the Prellerhaus – the studio building with its iconic diving board balconies, now restored and available for overnight accommodation. Our studio room for the night (for only 40) is simply but elegantly furnished in the Bauhaus style: a bed, table and chair, two lamps, a wardrobe and a washbasin, with the original steel-framed window spanning the whole external wall. No carpets and other soft furnishings, just grey linoleum on all the floors and accent colour panels on the landings. Falling asleep I am imagining that perhaps Marcel Breuer or Marianne Brandt may have stayed and worked in this room.

The School itself was designed by the Director, Walter Gropius, and built in 1926. Our tour of the buildings and grounds next morning is a delight; everything that meets the eye has been designed, the buildings themselves, their window openings, light switches and light fittings, staircase handrails, door handles. Breuer’s Wassily chairs abound, inviting visitors to sit down and look out of the windows at the other elevations of the School’s buildings. These windows take up whole facades and the light makes the shadows inside dramatic and sharp, almost monochrome. 

Despite the fact it is Saturday the School has just a handful of visitors, who seem to be mostly architects in black polo necks with cameras on their necks – wandering and wondering just like us with incredulous eyes. It is almost impossible to believe that all this is now 90 years old as it looks as fresh and radical today as it must have done when first opened. Today there are still builders on the site busily finishing things for the official Bauhaus centenary celebrations and the new design museum which is opening this September.

A short walk along from the School brings us to the Masters’ houses: Gropius own house a detached villa standing among the pine trees alongside three other semi-detached houses. Next to the Director’s the Moholy-Nagy/Feininger houses were destroyed by a wartime bomb and are now being rebuilt as full-scale models with the interiors re-designed as artists’ galleries, their crisp concrete and glass mirroring the original design ethos of the School.

All of this now is a UNESCO World Heritage site sitting alongside such famous sites as the Pantheon and Stonehenge  what recognition and celebration of 20th century design! Please go and see it soon.

Tanya Martin

For more information on accommodation at the Bauhaus visit the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation website.

All photos copyright Tanya Martin 2019

This post is part of our celebration of the Bauhaus centenary. Our show The Bauhaus in Bristol opens on September 14 and is accompanied by a range of events including a symposium Breuer in Bristol at the Arnolfini. See our website for more information.

This entry was posted in Architecture, Bauhaus, Breuer, Dessau, Furniture, Interior Design, Marcel Breuer, Modernism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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