2019 is the year of the Bauhaus. Ever since its establishment, the school has become a synonym for a certain type of modernism: functional, industrial, stripped and sleek. From typography at airports to iPhones, the ideals and aesthetics of the Bauhaus can be found in a wide range of contemporary product design. How can a school founded 100 years ago still have such a lasting impact on the design world and what can modern mobility companies learn from its ideals?
Lasting just 14 years until it was forced to close by the Nazis, the Bauhaus revolutionized the art and design world in the early 20th century. Founded as the “State Bauhaus” by architect Walter Gropius and with a high calibre of artists like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and László Moholy-Nagy as masters, it established the principles of modern design with a mission to unify art, design and crafts.
The fact that the Bauhaus was set up in 1919 comes as no surprise: After World War One, people in the Weimar Republic, Germany’s first-ever democracy, were open to new ideas. A reaction to what was perceived as the inadequacy of art, architecture and design, the Bauhaus offered a truly radical, international and optimistic vision of the future and was intended to confront the problems of a new world unable to keep up with progress in engineering and technology. It flourished despite – or because of – the economic turmoil and cultural conservatism of its surroundings.
Throughout its existence, the Bauhaus was caught in the crossfire between political parties. With the political situation in Germany heating up, the school was forced to relocate twice: First in 1925 to Dessau and then in 1932 to Berlin. In 1933, after merely 14 years, it finally closed its doors for good.
Today, “Bauhaus architecture”—buildings with white walls, generously glazed windows and nautical balconies and terraces on flat roofs—can be found all over the world, from Tel Aviv to Tokyo, Buenos Aires to Budapest. But the Bauhaus’ influence on today’s design world goes much further than just architecture: Its core ideals can be found in many modern products, ranging from Ikea’s furniture which harnesses industrial techniques to make products available to everyone to Apple’s digital products, with their intelligent use of clean and geometric simplicity and new materials and technology.
How can a modern mobility company utilize principles that were defined 100 years ago? We took the example we knew best, ourselves, to see how the Bauhaus principles still hold as much relevance today as they did then:
Form and function should be in harmony, corresponding to each other, without any need for excessive decoration: The most basic principle of the Bauhaus was "form follows function." According to this idea, simple but elegant geometric shapes were designed based on the intended function or purpose. unu’s overall philosophy is to keep it simple. We therefore designed the unu Scooter to be as straightforward to use and minimalistic as possible.
The elimination of creative hierarchies and a focus on collective benefits and widespread access: The Bauhaus strove to be a leveller. Combining influences from modernism, the English Arts and Crafts movement, and Constructivism, it believed that design was to serve the community. unu was founded to connect people with their city and to make transport accessible to the many. That's why we’ve committed ourselves to designing and developing the best mobility solutions that are fast, effortless, clean and appealing and, most importantly, affordable.
Modern design should harness industrial techniques to make products accessible to everyone: The Bauhaus offered a truly radical, international and optimistic vision of the future and was intended to confront the problems of a new world unable to keep up with progress in engineering and technology. To achieve our desired product experience, we try to use off-the-shelf components as much as possible. This way, we can make our products as affordable as possible.
Art as a means of problem solving in modern society: The Bauhaus faculty ascribed to a central pedagogical tenet: that teaching should focus on experimentation and problem-solving. Our three founders Mathieu, Elias and Pascal have lived in big cities across the world. They experienced our cities’ amazing potential, as well as how limited city dwellers are in accessing that potential – due to the pains of urban mobility, which, at least for now – is slow, complicated, expensive and dirty. They founded unu with the vision of enabling everybody to access the full potential of our cities.
Good design should produce no waste: The Bauhaus believed that products should be designed economically and any waste should be kept to a minimum. unu has chosen electric mobility because it’s currently the only viable solution. However, we’re always looking to improve and find the most sustainable option for transport in the city. As we evolve, we’ll approach every decision by trying to reduce waste and find the most sustainable solutions for production.
While the Bauhaus’ influence might be most obvious in the design world, it’s clearly had a lasting impact on the way we at unu approach business and production as well. It’s remarkable that designs and principles created 100 years ago still are just as modern and timeless now as they were then. Imagine what would happen if companies from all sectors took note of the school’s groundbreaking techniques and views.
Interested in more Bauhaus content? Follow our social channels to see how unu celebrates 100 years of Bauhaus.
Curious to see how unu approaches design in line with the Bauhaus principles? Over the past four years, we’ve worked on making the unu Scooter as simple and functional as possible. Click below to see our product design and features in detail.