Bauhaus interior design originates from Germany‘s Bauhaus School of Art and Design, which dates back to the early 20th century. The Bauhaus design school formed much of the foundation for what we know today as modern art and design, and it never went out of style.
This guide explores Bauhaus interior design and how to incorporate this beautiful, practical design style into your home. We’ve also highlighted ideas on Bauhaus furniture pieces to make capturing this look in your home decor easier.
A brief history of the Bauhaus
Bauhaus interior design is part of the Bauhaus movement, which comes from the Bauhaus School of Art and Design (aka The Bauhaus). It’s also a primary influence behind modernism and modernist architecture.
The Bauhaus was founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius shortly after the end of World War I. Gropius envisioned Bauhaus as a creative expression in all aspects of the material world, including architecture, sculpture, and painting. However, his vision was more than an aesthetic goal — he sought to begin a new, almost utopian way of living in our modern society.
Gropius brought on teachers to teach the “unification of arts through craft” and conduct his classes. The teachers included Wassily Kandinsky (Russian art theorist and painter), Paul Klee (German artist), László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian painter and photographer), and Josef Albers (German artist). Later, he added names, including famed architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe as Director and textile designer Lilly Reich as Director of the building/finishing department.
In 1923, Gropius reoriented the Bauhaus school to emphasize “art into industry” and mass production, making the operation more financially feasible. Two years later, the Bauhaus school relocated from Weimar to Dessau, where Gropius created a new Bauhaus building.
By 1933, the Bauhaus was forced to close due to pressure from the Nazis. But emigrating Bauhaus members helped it continue to spread to countries like Russia, Switzerland, Israel, and the United States.
Today, you can visit Bauhaus architecture and design museums throughout Germany in Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, and Steinfurt. Bauhaus museums also exist in other countries — for example, you can find one in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel.
What is Bauhaus interior design?
The Bauhaus school and movement not only influenced many well-known artists, designers, and architects of the time, but its reach has also extended to the many decades since. Although it started over 100 years ago, you can find the Bauhaus style reflected in minimalist, mid-century modern, contemporary, Scandinavian, and industrial design to this day.
Bauhaus designers united in the belief that form follows function, and Bauhaus creations had a beauty inspired by practical functionality. Here are some characteristics of Bauhaus‘s influence and interior design.
- Geometric forms: Geometric shapes and simple forms are common in Bauhaus spaces, as they add a touch of artwork to practical furniture and decor. The square, triangle, and circle are common forms in Bauhaus artwork and homes.
- Simple design: Clean lines and simple shapes expand on the idea that “form follows function” within the Bauhaus design style.
- Industrial materials: Industrial materials are practical, durable, and easy to maintain, reflecting the Bauhaus aesthetic. Wood, metal, concrete, and glass are common materials in Bauhaus spaces — for example, you might see tubular steel used in furniture craftsmanship.
- Minimal ornamentation: Bauhaus interior design is associated with minimalism and a rejection of ornamentation. This stemmed from the designers’ belief that less is more. For example, Bauhaus-style furniture is often simple and minimalistic.
- Primary colors: Bauhaus interior design and artwork often add a touch of color using the three primary colors of red, blue, and yellow. And while most Bauhaus spaces rely on white and grey as the basis of their color palettes, some modern interpretations also use these primary colors on the walls and furniture.
You’ll see these characteristics reflected in famous Bauhaus pieces. For instance, the Barcelona chair is an iconic piece of Bauhaus furniture designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. Its base design is made of just intersecting two lines, giving it a serene and refined look that has withstood the test of time. Equally recognizable (yet more mechanical) is the Wassily Chair, which was designed by Marcel Breuer who attended the Bauhaus school between 1920 and 1924.
Bauhaus interior design and furniture tips
Adding the characteristics of Bauhaus interior design to your space can influence your decor, even if it includes other styles. Here are some tips for incorporating some classic Bauhaus elements into your home’s aesthetic.
1. Look for simple furniture designs
The furniture in your space can significantly impact the overall Bauhaus aesthetic. Bauhaus furniture is simple and functional, often made from wood, glass, metal, or concrete with simple shapes and clean lines. Here are a couple of examples of Bauhaus-inspired furniture that you can consider for your space:
2. Use practical materials
Choose practical materials for your furniture and interior design. These materials should be durable and easy to maintain. Here are some furniture recommendations that emphasize functional materials:
3. Minimize clutter
The Bauhaus interior design style typically favors a minimalistic and uncluttered look. By simplifying your spaces, removing unnecessary items, and following other minimalist interior design tips, you can begin to capture the Bauhaus aesthetic.
4. Add pops of color
Many Bauhaus spaces are dominated by white and grey, but feel free to add a few pops of color for a more modern appeal that showcases your personality. For example, you might use a piece of fine art featuring primary colors alongside some houseplants and artificial flower displays for life and color.
On the other hand, if you like rooms with more color, you can add primary colors to the walls, floors, and furniture as shown in the above photo featuring a modern Bauhaus living room. The Bauhaus style has had over 100 years to grow and evolve, and you’re not limited to one specific look or set of rules.
5. Emphasize lighting
In Bauhaus interior design, you’ll want to emphasize natural light as much as possible. But you can also use artificial lighting to keep your space energetic and bright. The lights you choose will influence the mood of each area, so you may want to add multiple options. Here are some examples of how to add more lighting to your Bauhaus-inspired spaces:
At its core, the Bauhaus interior design style encourages experimentation. Try new things and find what furniture or home decor pieces work for your space. Also, look for practical items that make your life more convenient — like a modern dining table that’s easier to clean. The key is to create rooms that feel comfortable, simple, and enjoyable to spend time in.
Embrace the Bauhaus
If you love Bauhaus interior design, we hope this guide inspires you to embrace it in your own space. And remember, it’s OK to mix in other styles — you’ll find Bauhaus reflected in minimalist, mid-century modern, contemporary, Scandinavian, and industrial interior design, and they’re all compatible.
Maybe you want to play with minimalist and mid-century modern interior design while mixing in Bauhaus principles that emphasize form following function. Or you might want to create an industrial space with Bauhaus artwork to give it the edge you want. Whatever you decide, the goal is to make your space your own, and that will make you feel good about it.
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