The Influence of the Bauhaus Movement on Modern Furniture

Although the Bauhaus movement is not all that widely understood outside of the design and art world, it has visually impacted our daily lives in the areas of interior design and furniture.

The Early Days

The Bauhaus movement is best known for its avant-garde ideas and philosophy and has become a standard reference for architects and designers throughout the world. Founded in Germany in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus movement adopted the principles of William Morris and the British craft movement, which stated that art should not be elitist, but, instead, based around meeting the needs of society. In another radical advancement of art and design, the Bauhaus movement insisted that art without sound engineering was simply not acceptable in the modern industrial world.

By the time the Bauhaus movement was banned by Hitler in Nazi Germany in 1933, its impact had spread worldwide. When many of its followers subsequently emigrated to America, the movement’s influence then began to spread throughout the world.

Influential Designs

Known for its angular and functional architecture, the Bauhaus movement also created exceptional furniture and lighting, including the Barcelona chair and Kaiser Idell lamps.

Furniture design was a logical extension for the movement, which sought to produce furniture that was not only attractive, but also strong and durable. As such, pieces were often made using tubular steel due to its strength and simplicity.

Perhaps one of the best known pieces of Bauhaus furniture is the Barcelona chair, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich for the German Pavilion as an entry piece for the International Exposition of 1929. Made from a chrome on steel frame with leather cushions, the Barcelona chair’s design was based on that of ancient folding chairs, making it both visually appealing and practical. Manufactured by international company, Knoll, since 1953, this piece of Bauhaus furniture is predominantly sold with black cushion covers, but white cushion covers are also popular.


One of the most popular and commonly seen Bauhaus interior decor pieces are Kaiser Idell lights. Designed by German silversmith Christian Dell during the 1930s, these beautiful lights are notable for their asymmetrical design. Made, as much Bauhaus furniture is, from high quality steel, Kaiser Idell lights are excellent examples of sculptural elegance at its very best.

Usually available as a wall, floor or table lamp, Kaiser Idell lights are a design classic that have stood the test of time and can be used in either a domestic or business environment. Christian Dell’s lamp designs are still considered significantly important and a range of them can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

While perceived as stark and cold by some, Bauhaus furniture has remained extremely popular since its inception and has continued to inspire both artists and interior designers alike to this day.

About the Author

The author is a big fan of design and has blogged extensively on the subject. He enjoys fine examples of authentic design such as the Barcelona Chair and Kaiser Idell lights described in the article.

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