Architectonic · Art/Aesthetics · Social/Politics · Theory

The Battle for Bauhaus: How A Movement Failed to Protect Its Name

Germany’s famous Bauhaus school from 1919 to 1933 forged new boundaries in the art and design world and remains highly influential today. But its brand and legacy has been under threat for five decades from a large German-Swiss home goods retailer that took the title and trademark “Bauhaus” in 1960 and now has 190 stores around Europe.

Architect Walter Gropius and his group of communal craftsmen put a radical stamp on architecture, design and art education during Germany’s Weimar Period between the two world wars. He even claims he coined the term “Bauhaus” as the name for his atypical art school.

Along the way, though, he forgot an important thing: to protect the name.

As a result, up to 40 companies in Germany and myriad others abroad have taken the word “Bauhaus” as a brand or title. The imitators include a furniture label in the United States, a rumored bordello in Japan, a chocolate variety that touts its form and function, a real estate company and the early British gothic band led by Peter Murphy.

“Bauhaus sells,” says Dr. Annemarie Jaeggi, director of the Bauhaus Archive Museum in Berlin. “That’s the point.” When someone is copying you or your name in a corporate context, she says, “then you see that you really have a brand.”

But the greatest squatter of the moniker is a do-it-yourself retailer based in Mannheim, which trademarked the Bauhaus during postwar divided Germany. It happened before Gropius and others moved to established archives and museums — in Dessau and Weimar (in the former east) and Berlin — to explain and protect the historical Bauhaus and its legacy. Now, it’s causing confusion to the general public and frustration to Bauhaus design aficionados.

Written by Paul Glader at the Spiegel. Continue HERE

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