Craft becomes Modern.
The Bauhaus in the Making

  • 13 April 2017–7 January 2018
    Bauhaus Dessau

Hammering, planing, sawing and weaving – it was pretty loud and dusty in the workshop wing of the School of Design, the Bauhaus Dessau. Although conceived as ‘laboratories for industry’, a great deal was still done by hand in the Dessau workshops.

The exhibition "Craft becomes Modern. The Bauhaus in the Making" in the original setting, the weaving workshop in the Bauhaus building in Dessau, tells the story of the workshops from the perspective of craft – a discipline that was already pivotal to the foundation of the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar. That said, at the Bauhaus the concept of craft was more contentious than any other.

In the microcosm of the workshop praxis, the exhibition simultaneously explores these sites as reflected in their day as spheres in which the pressing questions of modern society were addressed.

Therefore, it is not the finished product, but the contentious processes of learning and production themselves that form the focus of the exhibition. After all, the Bauhaus prioritised new models of collective learning, work and production in a context of radical cultural change.

Through sketches, lesson notes, material studies, objects, photos and documents, visitors learn about design, making and production at the Bauhaus. Looms, workbenches, tools, material samples and machines from the weaving, wood and metal workshops will be on show for the very first time.

The exhibition shows the prevailing wide-ranging field of conflict in which craft at the Bauhaus was redefined as a utopia, albeit one that coexisted with industrial culture. The Bauhaus workshops were transitional spaces between factory and craft workshop, between the training workshops of the schools of arts and crafts and laboratories for industrial prototypes, between free experiment and Fordian piecework, between unique work of art and industrially mass-produced article.

Today, craft appears to be experiencing a renaissance with the cultural scenes of Do-it-Yourself, the new amateurism and the crafter and maker movement. To look from here at the modern craft that the Bauhaus produced may also contribute to a fuller understanding of craft in the twenty-first century.

In the exhibition, contemporary positions in design that conceptualise craft as critical design praxis enter into a dialogue with modern craft at the Bauhaus.

The exhibition will be shown at the Bauhaus Dessau in the framework of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation’s annual theme, “Substance”.

Visitor Services

Public guided tours of the exhibition
First Sunday of every month, 2 p.m.

Guided tour for senior citizens (reduced admission)
First Wednesday of every month, 3 p.m.

Guided tour with curator Dr. Regina Bittner
Sundays, 21 May and 10 September 2017, 11 a.m.

Combined group guided tour exhibition and the Bauhaus building
Please reserve: or P +49 – 340 – 6508–251

Supporting Programme

  • Catalogue workshop in the Maker-Space

Design your own exhibition catalogue
daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

  • Object Lab

A series of talks with experts and practitioners

What do collections of pre-Columbian textiles tell us about the Bauhaus weaving workshop? Why would Marcel Breuer present a short film ranging from the African chair to rising columns of air at the official opening of the Bauhaus building? Exhibits are exceptional things, collected and shown first and foremost because they are manifestations of practices, materials, economies and cultural meanings. In exhibitions they find their voice in dialogue with other objects. In the exhibition’s Maker-Space we aim to enter into dialogue with specific exhibits and to study their fabrication, form and materiality and the context from which they emerged and in which they intervened with design historians, practitioners and visitors.

Thursdays, 20 April, 18 May, 22 June, 20 July, 21 Sept 2017
5 – 6.30 p.m.

  • In Conversation with Masters

Guest jewellery designer Erika Schäfter
Jewellery designer Erika Schäfter of Leipzig demonstrates how silver and other metals are shaped, stamped and worked. The designer was the first post-WWII apprentice (1955–1958) to Alfred Schäfter, workshop master at the Bauhaus Dessau. In conversation with Lutz Schöbe, head of the Bauhaus Dessau Archive.

Sunday, 21 May 2017
1 – 3 p.m.

Guest textile designer Elke Wolf
Textile designer Elke Wolf of Plauen has engaged intensively with the Bauhaus weaving workshop. She will share her knowledge in conversation with the head of the Bauhaus Collection, Wolfgang Thöner, and the head of the Bauhaus Dessau Archive, Lutz Schöbe. Visitors are also invited to weaving demonstration on an original horizontal loom.

Sunday, 10 September 2017
1 – 3 p.m.

Free admission

  • For Children and Young People

Masters in the Making
Open workshop
ages 8 – 14

With or without prior knowledge, there’s a place for everyone in the open workshop! The Bauhauslers and their interest in craft experiments and the exploration of materials provide the model for our own work in the workshop.

every Wednesday (except school holidays)
4 – 6 p.m.

Free admission, no registration required

News from the Design Machine
Summer workshop for children and young people
ages 10 – 16

Equipped with a 3D printer, the summer expedition ventures into the realm of the inventor. Using this device we investigate new manufacturing processes in the company of artists and designers.

31 July – 4 August 2017

Attendance fee: Euro 30 (including costs for lunch and materials)
Registration until 23 June 2017: or  P +49 – 340 – 6508–262

100 Years of Bauhaus | Beginning of the Centenary in 2017

"Craft becomes Modern. The Bauhaus in the Making" is the kick-off exhibition of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation to the founding centenary of the Bauhaus in 2019.

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