Bauhaus 100 – The Colourful Rise of Modernism

Bauhaus-style Bursa Hotel

As Bauhaus celebrates it’s centenary year I find myself intrigued by the major influence it has had on Modern and Contemporary Design.

Modern Design

Modernism emerged in the 1920s in response to social upheaval and technological advances created by the first World War. During this time people were pushing for a fairer, more equal society.

Modernists attempted to create a more democratic type of design by harnessing technological advancements and using them to create functional living solutions.

One of the biggest influences on modern design was the Bauhaus – “building house” an art and craft school in Germany, founded by architect Walter Gropius in 1919.

Bauhaus School

Bauhaus logo - The Rise of Modernism

After the devastation of World War I, Walter Gropius forged a school of design that sought to play a part in shaping a modern society. This required rejecting the traditions of the past, including the class barriers between the “noble” artist and the “working” craftsman.

Above all, he believed “The ultimate goal of all art is the building” this required architects, artists and sculptors return to the work of craft. In other words, the artist needed to be an artisan too in order to create a modern society using the new technologies and materials of the day.


The Nazi regime rejected the modern thinking of the Bauhaus School and it was forced to close in 1933. As a result, many Bauhaus masters, including the last director, Mies van der Rohe, left Germany and went into exile.

Pioneers of Modernism

Three pioneers of Modernism are shown here, together with some of their iconic buildings and a modern take of their furniture designs as seen at Salone del Mobile 2019.

The stories behind some of these iconic buildings is fascinating.

Mies van der Rohe – (1886 -1969)

After leaving Germany and the Bauhaus school in 1933, Mies van der Rohe moved to America.

His designs involved cutting out the unnecessary, living simply and keeping life uncluttered. Summed up in his famous saying “less is more”.

Featured below is the iconic glass house – Farnsworth House which he designed in 1945 for Dr Edith Farnsworth. The modernist design is a great example of juxtaposing a sleek streamlined design with the organic environment.

The tumultuous relationship between Mies van der Rohe and Dr Edith Farnsworth will soon be portrayed in the movie The Farnsworth House I can’t wait for that one.

Farnsworth House. Photo Kimberley Janish

The iconic Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe in a contemporary setting. Revamped and showcased by Knoll at Salone del Mobile 2019.

Image: Interior Furniture Design Magazine

Eileen Grey – (1878 -1976)

Eileen Grey, an Irish architect and furniture designer, is considered to be one of the most influential designers of modern times.

As a women in a mans world, she was overlooked for many years, further more she was criticized by, some say, a jealous Le Corbusier.

The restored Modernist Villa E1027 designed by Eileen Grey and built in 1929 on the cliffs of the Cote d’Azure.


Seen at Salone del Moibile 2019, the Eileen Grey Floor lamp and refreshed Bibendum chair.


Le Corbusier (1887-1965)

French architect, artist and designer Le Corbusier is known for his new conception of space. He built houses painted white and raised on stilts or piloti. Many of his projects are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

His best known building from the 1930s – Villa Savoye in Poissy, France had a huge influence on international modernism.


A contemporary take of iconic chairs designed by Le Corbusier, showcased by Cassina at Milan design week.

Cassina LC50 collection. Image:

I love that no matter how minimalist or modern, the uplifting qualities of colour – which we all need, come shining through.

Have a wonderful week

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