Modernism was a philosophical movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that was based on an underlying belief in the progress of society and moving forward. Rejecting the traditional neoclassical architecture and Beaux-Arts styles that dominated the 19th Century, Modernism pushed forward with new construction methods heavily involving glass, steel, and reinforced concrete. Buildings could grow taller and lighter, and the world started to be reborn.
Bauhaus – founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 – was a fusion of artists, film makers, writers and architects merging craft traditions with modern technology and mass production. The ideas of modernism were being manifested in the Bauhaus; building materials were brought to the forefront, incorporated into the aesthetics and design, while ornamentation and facades were stripped away.
This explosion of design came after four years of bloodshed and pain, and lasted until the advent of a bigger, bloodier war. Yet, in those 22 years of relative peace, artists and designers found hope and embraced a new philosophy for the world. We see in the work of Alvar Aalto a move towards the psychological aspects of design; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s embracing of freedom and simplicity; and the legacy of all things Le Corbusier.
As we look back to the present and the uncertain times we live in, it is important to remember those that came before and thrived in times more uncertain than our own. Those who desired to redesign the world going forward, rather than lament over what had been lost.
Anna Grassham / Head of Modern Design
Christian Cox / Assistant