Bauhaus and Mid Century Modern Design

By Lee Franklin

2019 was the 100th anniversary of the creation of The Bauhaus. An art and design movement that any lover of Mid Century design should be eternally thankful for. In fact no school of design has been as influential as the Bauhaus. Here at Inkabilly, we are definitely big fans of Bauhaus and are heavily influenced by it's clean lines and bold colours. We also love the many subsequent movements it spurned ... 

Founded in Germany in 1919, by architect Walter Gropius, the School of design and architecture only lasted 14 years before it was shut down by the Nazis in 1933. This, however did not dampen the Bauhaus movement, in fact it just propelled it into a modern phenomenon. Many of the Bauhaus' most notable teachers emigrated to other countries to spread the philosophy and it went on to inform the entire Modernist movement worldwide, particularly in Europe and the United States.

Bauhaus School of Design and Architecture

The rallying cry of the Bauhaus was “form follows function” and was inspired by the concept of uniting art and industrial design. They wanted to bring art and design to everyday people by making everyday objects both more interesting and more functional. They believed that “less is more’ in everything from colours to furniture, to teapots to architecture. It was a very matter-of-fact response after the overly emotional German Expressionism of the period and a perceived over-the-top flamboyance of Art Deco. And so they scaled back with clean lines and bold, primary colours and though ornamentation was left behind, style definitely was not.


They took advantage of new technological advances in materials and mass production, and exploited the juxtaposition of different and contrasting materials.  The new look was marked by buildings with large expanses of glass windows, tubular steel frames for furnishings, sleek materials like leather, steel and plastic, as well as generally sparse decorations.


Bauhaus 3 Chair

In the US the Mid Century Modern movement was an American reflection of the Bauhaus style, along with the International style (developed in the 1920s and 1930s in Holland, France and Germany, it was characterised by a rejection of all ornament and colour with repetitive modular forms).

Bauhaus also became the cornerstone of the modern Scandinavian design movement that emerged in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in the 1950s. Scandinavian countries, along with Finland and Iceland, were quick to embrace the design philosophy of Bauhaus and make it their own because the love for local materials and functional forms was already embedded in their culture.

As I stated earlier, we are big fans of simple, clean cut imagery ... ‘less is more’ features highly in our design techniques. A design will often start out with many ideas buzzing across the page and we slowly reduce it down to the bare minimum for maximum impact. I personally have never been one for fussy, over-intricate or busy visuals and find something quite calming in simple, classic shapes and limited colour palettes.

I am often perplexed and amazed at the way a simple shape or a combination of colours can evoke a visceral reaction in me … an emotional response that words cannot describe.

In our designs, we try to evoke this world of excitement and enjoyment, producing products as a way of filling our lives with joyous colour responses and happiness through colour and pattern. And in this we give a huge nod to Bauhaus and Mid Century style. We refer back to these movements constantly as a way to produce strong, bold and emotionally charged products. Bauhaus will forever be the cornerstone of so many designers.

As a specific celebration of Bauhaus we decided to dedicate a tableware collection to the movement. You can browse this collection here. And explore our store to see how Bauhaus has influenced us in general. If you have any comments, please feel free to comment on this blog or even drop us a line!

If you would like to read more about the Bauhaus and it’s legacy,  Dezeen’s have written an excellent series of articles exploring the school's key figures, projects and influences:

 Shop Bauhaus Tableware by Inkabilly

Photo credits:

Bauhaus building from 

Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer from Lorkan, Wikimedia Commons