Bauhaus and De Stijl are two styles I love but do not know much about, so we can learn together! Bauhaus in German literally means “construction house.” De Stijl translates to “the style” in Dutch. Both came about as a reaction to World War I, giving their political views a voice through design. Both styles are known for clean lines and forms, with simple functionality, as opposed to the decorative and ornamental styles of pre-war architecture.

stained glass windows inside Boghall Church
Boghall Church in Bathgate, United Kingdom


In 1919 (just over 100 years ago!) Walter Gropius declared in his Bauhaus Manifesto that the arts should work together. One of the main concepts he aimed to achieve with this new school was “Gesamptkunstwerk” which simply means “unified work of art.” In architecture terms that means the architect designs and oversees every aspect of a building, inside and out.

black square with white circle and geometric design
Staatliche Bauhaus; Source: Wikimedia Commons


Bauhaus was established at a time when industrialization was growing and designers like Gropius were looking for a way to incorporate the functionality of it with their art and design. Because of this modern new school which had equally progressive social views, the Nazis forced the Bauhaus to close in 1933. Gropius, Breuer, and others moved to places such as England and the United States bringing Bauhaus along with them.

a Bauhaus style chair
Bauhaus poster by Muriel Cooper featuring Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer; Source: Library of Congress

After watching Babylon Berlin on Netflix (which you should check out if you’re interested in seeing what Germany was like in the ’20s), it seems as though pre-World War II was an architecturally diverse time period. The main style depicted in the show is called New Objectivity (or Neue Sachlichkeit), which was a response to Expressionism. Evolving out of the socialistic ideals of New Objectivity, Bauhaus developed a realistic way to create simple and efficient architecture. As a school, it only lasted for 14 years but its iconic style is still influencing art and architecture today…and apparently, it’s alive and well in Tel Aviv. There is even a Bauhaus bus which I’m a little jealous that I can’t take a spin in.

a church done in the Bauhaus style
Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany; Source: Pixabay

De Stjil

De Stijl had a similar goal to that of Bauhaus – harmony through a collaboration of the arts. This goal was more utopian than Bauhaus and ultimately led to the downfall of De Stijl. The name “The Style” was intended to represent a collective of all styles existing together. It is known for its distinct style of art (thanks to the work of Mondrian), but those same principles were applied to graphic design, product design, and architecture. De Stijl architecture usually contrasts with its surroundings using rectilinear forms and primary colors.

cafe in the Netherlands
Café de Unie in Rotterdam, Netherlands; Source: Wikimedia Commons

by Mackenzie Kidwell

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