Learning from the Bauhaus – Wilkhahn during the legendary school’s centenary year

Wilkhahn designers and architects in the Learning from the Bauhaus exhibition, photos from: Wilkhahn

Given the fact that the Bauhaus was always looking to the future, all Wilkhahn’s activities during the school’s centenary year focused primarily on whether this once disruptive movement could teach us any lessons for the future. And if so, to what extent.

Wilkhahn office building based on designs by Herbert Hirche

Founded in 1907, furniture company Wilkhahn spent the period right after the second world war developing modernist design ideas, which were shaped by the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhaus. Through collaborations with Bauhaus alumnus Herbert Hirche, the firm didn’t just produce numerous furniture designs but also its office and exhibition building. By liaising closely with the German organisation that succeeded the Bauhaus, Ulm University of Design (1953 – 1968), Wilkhahn laid the foundations for the integrated development of the whole company. At an early stage, it incorporated ecological responsibility, which covered product and corporate design to the campus buildings with Frei Otto and Thomas Herzog.

Invitation to the Wilkhahn symposium entitled Can a digitalised world learn lessons from the Bauhaus?

Wilkhahn’s Bauhaus symposium entitled Can a Digitalised World Learn Lessons from the Bauhaus? took place with prestigious speakers on 24 June 2019. The potential of modernism’s legacy is also apparent in the support given to and furnishing of the Growing House at the Laubengang houses UNESCO World Heritage Site in Dessau-Törten. The Growing House was created by the former director of the Bauhaus Foundation, Philipp Oswalt, with students at Kassel University.

Prof. Philipp Oswalt at the Wilkhahn architecture symposium called Can a digitalised world learn lessons from the Bauhaus?
Building the Bauhaus design-build project in Dessau with Wilkhahn furniture

A total of nine pairings, where historical milestones are juxtaposed with contemporary equivalents in the Learning from the Bauhaus exhibition at Wilkhahn’s Bad Münder headquarters, show how the company is interpreting modernism for the future. ZEIT.BEZÜGE is the title of the ideas competition that looks at the past, present and future and was held in the textiles studio at the Detmold School of Architecture and Interior design. In German, the title is a play on words meaning literally references to time and the word “Bezüge”, throws or covers for items of furniture. Here is an example of a seminal throw for a cantilever chair, which stood for the design of a new world more than any other piece of Bauhaus furniture.

Wilkhahn Learning from the Bauhaus design exhibition
The serape design (by Swenja Fleur Fabian), which came first in the ZEIT.Bezüge student competition, envelopes Wilkhahn’s Metrik cantilever chair (design: white ID) like a blanket to keep the person sitting on it warm.
Wilkhahn’s Learning from the Bauhaus design exhibition with the first prize in the ZEIT.Bezüge student competition with the item created by Swenja Fleur Fabian.

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