Bauhaus, in the terminology of modernism, is absolutely sacred. Founded by Walter Gropius, both the ideology and the school of Bauhaus strive to combine simplicity, innovation, and originality in physical forms. Steeped in minimalism, functionality, and pragmatic aesthetics, the Bauhaus movement appreciated the neutral color palette and experimentation with new materials. The no-fuss and clean designing of this movement redefined the entire modern movement.
Art Nouveau got its inspiration from nature. The Bauhaus got its inspiration from engineering.
- P.J. O'Rourke
It’s a school that not only pioneered an entire movement, but also gave us many iconic design pieces – especially in the furniture niche. Most of them are still considered timelessly classic – featuring a benchmark of gorgeous designing with minimalist looks and stringent functionality. Below, we’ll be looking at 15 of the most impressive ones:
Mies van der Rohe is considered one of the founding fathers of the modern movement. His extensive contribution to the field is as simple as it is minimally expressive. His Brno chair was designed in collaboration with partner Reich’s and was first unveiled in 1929 at the Barcelona International Exposition. The sleek lines, subtle beauty, and understated charm of this chair have become a trademark for the modern aesthetic. While not the first cantilevered chair of its time, the Brno chair has definitely left its mark on the design world.
Marcel Breuer is a Hungarian-born designer who’s come up with some of the most iconic furniture pieces of the modern era. Even today, you can see many of his works on the big screen. The Wassily chair is an example of his most exemplary designs and defines the very principles of the Bauhaus aesthetic. This classic chair was inspired by the sleek and functional body of a bicycle cut down to its very essential elements. With the help of tubular steel and a lot of abstract idea-articulation, Breuer was able to design a chair that was sturdy, timeless, and broke conventions of the 20th century modern movement without breaking any of its set principles.
The universally beloved charm and gorgeous aesthetic of the Barcelona chair is as timeless as they come. Another one of Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Riech’s collaborations, you can find this chair in furniture catalogues all over the world. It has a very steady presence and a charismatic aura that couples well with its chrome and leather aesthetic. It, too, was unveiled at the Barcelona International Exposition of 1929, and was designed for the Spanish Royal family. Over the years, this chair has managed to find its way in many contemporary spaces and is versatile enough to suit all of them.
Marcel Breuer’s Cesca chair is a trailblazer in the cantilevered chair genre and highlights his fondness of steel as a working material. The experimentation the concept of chair-without-legs was a favorite of many designers during the modern era, and Breuer was determined to design one that would befit a true modernists dreams. The Cesca chair was inspired by the precedents set by Heinz Rasch and Mies van der Rohe. The use of tubular steel was classic “Breuer” and the wooden frame used for the seats and backing provided a sturdy and comfortable platform. The chair went into production in 1962 by Gavina and was lovingly dubbed Cesca after Bruer’s daughter Francesca.
Largely considered the founding father of the Bauhaus School and movement, Walter Gropius believed in the concept of aesthetic functionality. He was an architect and a designer who emulated his school of thought in everything that he designed, and the Gropius Armchair is a testament to that.
He created this chair for his office at the Dessau Bauhaus where it was discovered by Axel and Werner Bruchhauser in 1972. This chair has been subject to a lot of study and critique by designers all over the world. Its bold style juxtaposed with its clean aesthetic. The vividly hued upholstery and solid wood base are unique and can be altered to various finishes according to the user’s requirements.
One cannot study the modern movement and leave out Le Corbusier. A pioneer of the authentic modern movement, many of his designs can be characterized as pure Bauhaus. While he was an architect by profession, Corbusier wasn’t afraid to delve into urban or furniture designing at all. In fact, he crafted some of the best modern furniture pieces that are appreciated to this day. The LC3 armchair is one of them. With its modular form that consists of four unconnected cushions, a tubular steel frame, and a comfortable surface area to rest on, it has become a timeless classic that is still used in many contemporary home interiors.
Eileen Gray was a breath of fresh air in the male-dominated design world. While Greta Grossman took the mantle of icons in Danish designs, Gray was a trailblazer in the Bauhaus movement. She designed many unique and functionally relevant pieces throughout her career, but the Eileen Grey side-table remains one of her most iconic. The tubular steel structure and clean aesthetic of this table are extremely stunning and also have a versatile appeal that makes every space it occupies feel very elegant and sophisticated.
While originally designed in 1928 as a collaboration between Le Corbusier and his partners Charlotte Perrirand and Pierre Jeanneret, it wasn’t until 1965 that this chair was put in production by Cassina. The design of this chaise caused a lot of stir when it was first featured at the Salon d’Automne in Paris and quickly became a milestone in the genre of modern furniture. It was crafted to feature the best of form and function and remains one of the most iconic pieces of modern design to this day. It consists of a semi-circular base with a chair body that ergonomically facilitates the contours of the human body. It is finished in either ponyskin or cowskin or leather, and has a headrest with polyester padding for properly resting the head.
Eileen Gray – with her art-déco influences and worldly Scots-Irish heritage – quickly carved out her place in the male-dominated design world and has created some of the most iconic Bauhaus furniture pieces. Her fun, quirky, yet cleanly designed Bibendum chair is a testament to her creativity and how she could design within the conventional bounds of a philosophy while thinking out of the box. The cushy, comfortable seat of the Bibendum chair is funky yet functional and its simple chrome base provides excellent balance – both visual and literal – to the whole design. To this day, this chair remains in production and is considered a total classic.
Over the course of his life, Marcel Breuer has created many exemplary furniture pieces and the D4 chair is another one of them. This collapsible armchair is the epitome of ergonomic and versatile with simple but impactful aesthetics – all qualities that are found in the Bauhaus school of thought. Breuer was a master at handling tubular steel, and he combined that expertise with an innovative line of thought by designing a chair that could be mobile. The nickel plated steel structure is complemented by a canvas sitting and back in vivid hues that contrasts and complements the cleanly designed body of this chair excellently.
The B9 chair by August Thonet is a study in ergonomics and simplicity. Fashioned out of timber and articulated in a stylistically apt way, this chair is perfect for commercial, residential, and even retail settings. It has a certain elegance and panache that couples well with it old-school vintage aura. It’s very attractive yet the design is as simple as they come. With a boldly circular seat and a backrest that is curved in an eccentric manner, the trio of visuals, functionality, and ergonomics in this chair as unparalleled as they come in any other Bauhaus furniture piece. In fact, this chair was so popular with professionals, that it is often lovingly dubbed as the ‘Le Corbusier chair’ as the architect was its most ardent of admirers.
A glance-through at all the works of Marcel Breuer would lead one to believe that maybe he had the power to look at the future as every single thing he’s ever designed is timeless enough to appeal all contemporary sensibilities. With the S 285 desk, Breuer perfectly encapsulated the needs of a current office with regards to both ergonomics as well as aesthetics. It’s as “programmatic” as any Bauhaus furniture piece and is crafted masterfully out of tubular steel and wooden storage spaces/work surfaces. This chair pairs nicely with mid century modern lighting to create the perfect work space. The overall design seems as if it is floating on air and perfectly captures the minimalist outlook that encapsulated pure radical modernism of the past and its contemporary counterpart of today.
Breuer once again made his mark on the design world by designing the simple, stylish, and highly practical Laccio table. This low table was a companion piece to the Wassily chair, and therefore, it was designed to accommodate the chairs aesthetics well. It is made out of tubular steel – just like most of Breuer’s furniture pieces – and features a rather simple design. This is possibly so that the artistic nature of the Wassily chair can stand out in perfect contrast to this table’s foreground. However, the Laccio table can definitely be used as a solitary piece and can be paired up with all types of sofas and accent chairs in both commercial and residential settings.
The Le Corbusier Studio was a hub of creative minds and innovative solutions. With his partners Charlotte Perrirand and Pierre Jeanerette, Corbusier designed many creative furniture pieces and the Revolving LC7 armchair is one of them. This chair was the brainchild of Charlotte Perrirand and she designed it for her plat in 1927. It’s made out of polished trivalent chrome and can be upholstered in the fabric of the customer’s choice. There are 2 versions of this chair – one with 4 legs, and the other with 5 legs. The seat and back and padded with polyurethane foam and polyester wadding. It’s definitely a classic furniture piece that can be emulated in many contemporary residential and commercial spaces.
While the Bauhaus style is all about clean lines and originality, that leaves innovation as a challenge. Richard Lampert definitely worked the concepts with his Frog chair. It not only features a truly distinct design but made it the epitome of visually versatile, pragmatic, and absolutely ergonomic. It was first designed for lecture halls back n 1955 and the stackable design turned out to be an amazing benefit. In fact, it was because of this feature that this chair was dubbed ‘the Frog.’ It has a charming aesthetic and can be featured in most homes and commercial spaces while maintaining its unique panache. It is mostly made out of powder coated tubular steel with a birch plywood backrest and seat that’s available in other lacquered finishes as well. A cluster of these would look great in an office huddle room, a home dining area, and more.
So, these are some of the most timeless Bauhaus furniture items that you’ll ever come across. They not only capture the essence and originality of this era of modernism, but also deliver the core trio of functionality, pragmatism, and visuals. They truly define the best of all worlds and are classic enough to be emulated in today’s home and commercial interior designs as well.