Though it’s been almost 80 years since the Bauhaus closed its doors, it is as relevant today as it was at its inception nearly 100 years ago. The German school, founded as a cultural response to the onset of the Industrial Revolution, combined craft and fine art to foster a distinctive approach to design that profoundly influenced everything from architecture to industrial design to typography. Recent and upcoming exhibitions of Bauhaus work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, as well as in Berlin and London, suggest that the school’s impact and significance continues to this day.
If there is a descendent of the Bauhaus today, it might be the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont, which offers almost 200 workshops, courses, and programs annually focused on design, construction, and architectural crafts. And if there is one course at Yestermorrow that speaks unequivocally to Bauhaus design and education traditions, it is the upcoming Fundamentals of Design course. In fact, the lineage is direct.
It begins with Josef Albers, the German-born artist and educator, who was hired by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius to teach the school’s introductory design course. After Hitler shut down the Bauhaus, Albers emigrated to America, ultimately landing as a professor at Yale University. One of the students who found his creative voice under Albers’ tutelage was Robert Engman, who went on to become one of the country’s most accomplished art educators. Engman earned widespread praise for his ability to help students open up paths of true creative expression, first—as with Albers—as a professor at Yale, where he taught a young architecture student name David Sellers, and later as Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, where he inspired Jim Sanford, also an architecture student.
Sellers and Sanford both wound up in Warren, Vermont, founding and contributing to the influential design/build movement that flourished there in the 1960s and 70s. Sellers’ acclaim as an architect, inventor, patent-holder, and all-around creative force is undisputed. And Sanford’s award-winning designs have made him one of the most sought-after architects in Vermont and beyond.
Both Sellers and Sanford also became involved at Yestermorrow, teaching a variety of courses at the school over the years. But it is with the upcoming—and premiere offering—of the Fundamentals of Design course that the lineage to the Bauhaus comes full circle.
The course will be modeled on the teaching strategies and exercises created by Engman and inspired by Albers, techniques that will challenge the mind to define the essence of form and assist in opening avenues of invention necessary to see the relationships that lead to creative solutions. Models, drawings, diagrams, and sketches will be used as vehicles for exploration, allowing students to develop the ability to think intuitively and creatively.
Whether students are hoping to design a light fixture or a house, a boat or a bikini, or just want to explore uncharted pathways of creative perception, Fundamentals of Design will provide a solid foundation in the tactics and approaches that allow design to make a distinctive statement. The course runs February 19–24. Space is limited. Call 888-496-5541, or visit www.yestermorrow.org for more information, or to register.