The exhibition Homage to the Bauhaus illustrates the influence of the Bauhaus on other artists through looking at the school’s lasting concepts. It looks at how others used these concepts in the 100 years since its creation through exhibiting works from the Kirkland Collection. It even looks to the future and imagines ‘The Next 100 Years’ of the school’s legacy through displaying 100 typefaces by graphic design students at Nottingham Trent University. These combine geometric elements of the Bauhaus with contemporary materials and current technology.
When leaving this exhibition, my mind was left thinking about the many ways in which aspects of design and interiors today can be traced back to the Bauhaus. In particular, the minimalism, simplicity and cleanliness associated with the Bauhaus can also be associated with the Konmari Method. The craze caused by the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo occurred at the same time as my visit to this exhibition. This led me to question: how does Marie Kondo pay homage to the Bauhaus?
The Konmari Method encourages us to look at individual objects and gets us to ask ourselves ‘does this spark joy for me?’. It emphasises that you retain those objects which spark joy and, consequently, discard those which do not. There are many affinities between the Bauhaus and the Konmari Method. This idea is twofold: the Bauhaus was ahead of its time as it uses concepts similar to the Konmari Method and that the Konmari Method can be applied to how we perceive works produced by the Bauhaus.
The Bauhaus can be aligned with the Konmari Method as the school’s aim to reunite modern manufacturing with creativity and skill means that joy is inherent. This aspect of the Bauhaus was shaped by the Arts and Crafts Movement which emphasised the joy of craftsmanship. Thus, the Konmari Method can also be aligned with the concepts of the Arts and Crafts Movement. In addition to looking at what influenced the Bauhaus, we can also look at the influences of the Bauhaus; this can be explore through contemporary furniture which echoes Bauhaus aesthetics. When looking at furniture from Ikea it is clear to see an aesthetic influence from the Bauhaus but the prominence of mass manufacturing means that the teachings about skill and craft are lost. In this sense, it is very hard for Ikea furniture to spark joy. In contrast, the love and craftsmanship which the Bauhaus advocates enables the resulting products to spark joy. For this reason, the objects produced by the Bauhaus have not been discarded; instead, they have survived a centenary and, presumably, will survive for even longer. Marie Kondo says that “discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy”. Furthermore, designers and artists have not discarded the concepts of the Bauhaus as it fosters the production of objects and artworks which spark joy.
The idea of keeping that which sparks joy means that the resulting aesthetic can be minimalist. In this sense, the Konmari method champions the “less is more” concept which was adopted by Mies van der Rohe, a director of the Bauhaus. The simplicity and organization associated with the Bauhaus movement parallels with the Konmari method which encourages people to declutter. Both the Bauhaus and Konmari Method teach the concept that form follows function; in light of the Konmari Method, this function is joy.
Alternatively, the Konmari Method can be used to shape how we look at objects produced by the Bauhaus. Marie Kondo found “three common elements involved in attraction: the actual beauty of the object itself (innate attraction), the amount of love that has been poured into it (acquired attraction), and the amount of history or significance it has accrued (experiential value)”. Whilst these elements can be reconciled with the teachings of the Bauhaus Movement, they can also be used to explain the everlasting attraction of objects produced by the Bauhaus. The experiential value of these objects is accrued due to this exhibition celebrating the centenary of the Bauhaus’ inception. As a result of this exhibition, we are more able to appreciate the works on display which have been influenced by the Bauhaus. Marie Kondo suggests that this appreciation “enhances such works of art and craft beyond their actual value”. In a way, this can provide an explanation as to why these works of art are so valuable.
Moreover, Kondo believes that “[s]ometimes I see a work in a museum that appears quite ordinary yet has a compelling attraction. In most cases, I expect this magnetic pull results from having been cherished by its owners”. In this sense, these works can still make us feel joy without having to hold it close to our heart like the Konmari Method instructs.
She then explains that “[w]hen we surround ourselves only with things that spark joy and shower them with love, we can transform our home into a space filled with precious artefacts, our very own art museum”. Kondo suggests that you can make your home into an art museum; similarly, the art museum can be made into a home for the collection of works. This is because the exhibition is an opportunity for visitors to “shower [the works] with love” and appreciate the concepts of the Bauhaus. After closing its homes in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin, the Bauhaus Movement spread yet it remained homeless; thus, it can be inferred that through this exhibition the Bauhaus has found a temporary home. The Bauhaus is like a hermit crab finding shells to live in and protect its body; the concepts of the Bauhaus will be protected and its legacy will continue in different forms.
Homage to the Bauhaus: The Kirkland Collection is open in the Djanogly Gallery until 2 June.
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-5pm