The Bauhaus movement started over one hundred years ago, which is remarkable when you consider how relevant and fresh Bauhaus architecture and design still feels today. So much so, that right now we are seeing a renaissance of Bauhaus characteristics in interior design. I, for one, am here for it!
Simple colour schemes and pared-back ornamentation are key to succeeding in Bauhaus Revival style, with the underlying rule that functionality gets to dictate the form. This style operates on the understanding that excess flourishes and ornamentation are unnecessary to make things ‘more beautiful’.
Bauhaus celebrates pure forms, clean design, and functionality. The foundation of this style championed the use of basic materials such as concrete, steel, chrome and glass for furniture design, and pared back architecture without any unnecessary decoration. There was an emphasis on the smart use of materials, well before ideas of sustainable design became a ‘thing’.
Many of the ideas written in the Bauhaus Manifesto (there aren’t enough manifestos written these days!) by Walter Gropius in 1919 have been so embedded in art and design culture today that it is impossible to imagine a world without the Bauhaus movement.
From the sparseness of 90s minimalism, clever mid-century modern to the boldness of the Memphis movement, we can thank the Bauhaus movement for shaping design as we know it.
Red is a Bauhaus Colour
We haven’t seen red used in interiors for decades, so it is fair to feel a little trepidation (or be downright terrified) of how to use this strong colour again. We’re not skirting around here by using rust, maroon or pink, it’s full-on cherry red people, so buckle in!
Bauhaus style uses red in a sophisticated way alongside other clean primary colours and industrial materials. You may want to be careful with combining all of the primary colours (red, yellow and blue) together because before you realise it, your living room could start to resemble the set of Playschool (no offence to Jemima and Little Ted).
To avoid this happening, layer the colour against natural wood tones instead of a stark white backdrop. Keep in mind that it works well to use two of the primary colours together, instead of all three.
Using red in an interior again feels fresh, as we haven’t seen it for so long. It gives an air of confidence and presents as fashion-forward.
Adding a red cushion for a ‘pop of colour’ isn’t going to work here because it feels disjointed, there needs to be a few instances of red used in the space for it to connect. For instance, a red light fitting and red seen in an artwork, or a red side table and red in a floor rug, so that the red looks intentional.
Compared to furniture from the preceding Victorian era, which was full of overstuffed flourishes that ransacked from Gothic, Tutor and basically any other period before it, Bauhaus was truly original. It didn’t look back, only forward.
When Marcel Breuer designed the Wassily chair, it must have been quite a shocking concept to sit in a chair made from tubular steel. Marcel Breuer conceived of using this, then unconventional material whilst riding his bike and observing the handlebars. He took the traditional form of an overstuffed club chair and simplified it down until it was just an outline, with a canvas seat, back and arms. It stands alone today as a classic design that upholds the Bauhaus conceptual ideals and at the same time is elegant and comfortable.
Bauhaus Revival combines a hint of industrial style combined with comfort. This is not about living in a museum with pieces designed during the Bauhaus movement; rather it is about embodying the spirit of the time. It’s optimistic, design-led, pared-back and forward-thinking.
This time we’re adapting this look with less severity and a more relaxed approach.
Heavy wooden furniture does not belong in this look, instead look for low-slung armchairs made from tubular chrome, combined with leather upholstery or woven cane mesh and glass coffee tables.
Graphic artwork is another key to nailing Bauhaus Revival style, along with colour blocking, instead of pattern, and clean lines, always.