Furniture History: The Bauhaus School

Bauhaus. You’ve probably heard this term even if you know nothing about the world of design.

Bauhaus was an uber important art and crafts school that operated in Germany between 1919 and 1933. Staffed by the leading architects, designers and painters of the time, the Bauhaus School would revolutionize design and production as it taught its students to design for mass production.

In the post-World War I Germany, this emergent design school created progressive experiments in design and aided in the development of an expanding consumer culture in the West.

Bauhaus style architecture

The principles of simplicity and practicality were central to Bauhaus. Furniture was reduced to its essential elements and was meant to be functional above all else.

For example, the Barcelona Chair designed by Van der Rohe and Reich features only a rectangular cushion over a light stainless steel frame. Table tops, legs, seat backs and other basic features were typically reduced to simplified geometric forms.

Barcelona chair

Ornamentation like scrollwork, inlays, or carved forms, were normally absent in Bauhaus furniture.


Instead of adding, Bauhaus subtracted.

Bauhaus designers, as we’ve mentioned, truly designed for mass production and wanted their pieces to be available to the mass public. Modern technology and automation helped them achieve the efficiency necessary for this task.

Also, they did not shy away from using man made materials for the furniture they produced. It was common to use combinations of steel, glass, plywood and plastic. Unconventional and anti traditional.

Bauhaus nesting tables

It’s dominant features would heavily influence the Art Deco style and change furniture making for the rest of the century. In fact, to this day we feel the influence of the Bauhaus school. If you’ve ever shopped at Ikea or used mass produced furniture, you’ve probably been in contact with the Bauhaus movement, without even knowing it.


Encyclopedia Britannica