From the material

The Bauhaus, the birthplace of classical modernism, stands today for many, above all, for new principles in architecture. But also in other areas, the legendary institution was formative and successful - one of which was the weaving.

When the Bauhaus was founded in 1919, it wanted to be progressive in every respect. Women should also determine what happens. And they came abundant - as early as 1919, about the same number of women and men applied. More than it was founder Walter Gropius dear. Had he just demanded that "every untroubled person be taken up without regard for age and sex," whose pre-education was regarded as sufficient by the Bauhaus's master-council, "he urged him a year later to" a sharp separation In the recordings (...), especially in the case of the female gender, which is too much represented. "In the following years, the number of women at the Bauhaus was kept small. Whoever was allowed to stay, came to the "Frauenklasse" with a few exceptions - the weaving. This developed into one of the most productive and commercially successful workshops. Gunta Stölzl, who came to the Bauhaus in 1919 as a student and later became the first and only Bauhaus master, promised herself of the pure female class unbridled creativity for the female students. And indeed the creative innovations from the weaving industry led to a development thrust in industrial design and to an enormous image gain in textile art.

The architect as interior decorator

During the Weimar Republic the high textile equipment was one of the architect's tasks. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, for example, laid Bauhaus floor coverings in his study, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe adorned the Barcelona pavilion and the Haus Tugendhat with hand-knotted sheep-wool carpets by the Lübeck weaver Alen Müller-Hellwig.

It is therefore not surprising that the weaving mill at the Bauhaus was always very much in demand and well-stocked in the following years. There were two subjects in the foreground: the utility and the artistic unique.

From aesthetics to function

In the beginning, however, weaving had a more artistic focus. The students were taught by the painters Johannes Itten, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, whose color and form teachings they transferred to the loom. The often discussed function was often neglected: the play with the opposites of thick and delicate, matte and shiny threads created unique aesthetic results, but they were not suitable for use.

Experiments with new materials Gunta Stölzl, the later weaving leader, created many-colored works from motivic abstractions and unusual material combinations at the beginning of her career. She experimented with metal threads, silk and wool, later also with cellophane, Kunstbast, paper and iron yarn. "The desire to weave - to shape from the material" was their credo. Under Stölzl's aegis, the weaving industry became one of the most lucrative Bauhaus divisions in the 1920s. This was due not least to the innovative concept: thanks to the symbiosis of design and execution, the textile design grew beyond the pure craftsmanship. The results were visually and haptically impressive with their barely perceptible color nuances and unusual bonding patterns which produced plastic structures. While the design of the narrative image motif developed over abstract compositions into flat formations, new materials, for example plastic threads, were also tested and tested for their suitability.

Industrial production

Already in the first Bauhaus years it became clear that the weaving industry takes into account industrial production processes

In order to meet the demand for textiles for architectural projects. Subsequently the weavers made decorative fabrics, wall and door covers, furniture curtains and curtains in traditional and industrial techniques. Gunta Stölzl made several fabrics for Marcel Breuers chairs in this context. Innovative synthetic fibers were developed for the area of application of the furniture cover, and Bauhaus materials were soon available as meterware. As a matter of course, the teaching theory also belonged to the teaching. Here, among other things, the ribbing bond played a major role, since it allows particularly stiff, abrasion and tear-resistant fabrics. This type of binding, which has been known for many centuries, has been applied in the weaving industry from the very beginning. Already since 1922/23, weaving had produced products in ribbing with artificial fibers.

Art and technology, a new entity

The work paid off in every respect - already in the Weimar period, the weaving had 900 property rights to textiles.

It had become a showpiece, which Walter Gropius praised in 1925, in his last year at the Bauhaus, as Germany's best-equipped hand weaving. In the same year the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau. The economic success pressure grew, and the place for expensive, unique products was increasingly cheap, industrially producible bulk goods. The new motto, which Gropius had already declaimed in Weimar, was: "Art and technology, a new unity!" In the following, co-operation was made even more closely with the industry and the design work for serial production was optimized.

Needs-based material

When the construction department of the Bauhaus was ready for operation in 1927, the weaving mill could hardly save itself from work. New textiles had to be developed for all possible areas of "new building": tear-resistant meterware, washable curtains, sound-absorbing wall coverings. The creation of low-cost materials, including synthetic fibers, was intensified under the second Bauhaus director Hannes Meyer.

Gunta Stölzl, of course, introduced the "industrial design" sector in the weaving sector. Synthetic fibers, but also artificial silk, which at the time brought the textile industry into turmoil, entered the scene. Moreover, stable iron yarns were introduced for the covering of steel tube chairs.

After the end of the Bauhaus in 1933, Gunta Stölzl led her own production in Zurich, where she continued the idea of the symbiosis of functionality and aesthetics. In just 14 years the Bauhaus weaving company had revolutionized the textile market and introduced a new aesthetic dimension. Even today carpets with Bauhaus motifs are produced, but a large part of the singular pieces have not survived the turmoil of the following period.


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