Annual theme of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in 2022.

Hygiene is one of the central dispositifs of modernism. The Bauhaus buildings’ environments, reduced to functionalism, exemplify how cleanliness was a fundamental value for design influenced by the Bauhaus school. A new material culture coated the buildings, rooms and furnishings with smooth and clean surfaces made of industrially produced materials. However, due to electric lighting everything hidden and dusty became only more visible. “Cleanliness” was thereby considered materially but also socially and morally a quality to strive for. In this respect, the Bauhaus was one of the culturally influential institutions that promoted and enforced a certain kind of Western understanding of cleaning, dirt avoidance and order linked to design.

Another perspective of modernity linked to purity becomes apparent in, for example, anthropologist Mary Douglas’ phrase “dirt is a matter out of place”, (1966) summarizing cultural constructions and thought patterns inherent in modern narratives that, supported by knowledge regimes and power structures, produce and perpetuate notions of order, including “right” and “wrong” places for things and people. In racism and xenophobia, these structures of thought and action continue into the present. Yet the implicit purifying and homogenizing patterns at work here have long been subject to criticism. Bruno Latour speaks of the modern epistemology of “purification” that has created two completely separate “ontological zones, that of humans on the one hand, that of nonhuman beings on the other”, (2008). The destruction of indigenous knowledge and cultural systems, which are based on hybrid interweavings between nature and culture, that was promoted in the course of colonialism, was part of the paradigm of purification.

The event will be conducted as a Zoom webinar. To register, click here.


Pre-Workshop “Engaging with Dirt – Cleaning and Filtering“

In a preparatory workshop the international students of the two involved Master degree programmes Coop Design Research and Open Design will take their diverse cultural and disciplinary approaches as the starting point for multidisciplinary explorations of current modes of knowledge, practices and discourses of cleaning and filtering: topics such as the science of dirt, filtering in and out humans, antiseptic scepticism etc. will be the subject of experimental exercises and expert discussions. The result of which are going to be presented in the Coop Study Space at Bauhaus Building on June 17th.

Participatory Installation “Unlearning Cleanliness“

In a participatory installation students of Coop Design Research take up the annual theme “Hygiene“ of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and involve visitors in material focussed research processes. Based on a previous workshop together with the Open Design Master at the Humboldt University in Berlin and inspired by Fritz Horstmann's assemblage of historical parts of the Bauhaus Buildings in the exhibition "Archaeology of Modernism" in the basement of the Bauhaus Building, the young design researchers reinterpret this form of material engagement in their classroom on the second floor. In the process, temporal and spatial parameters of the materialities of modernism intertwine and pose questions about relationships to more than human actors – from objects to Things.


In the roundtable discussions, alumni of the Master Program Coop Design Research and the Bauhaus Lab will present and discuss their research. Thematically, this year three focal points related to "Hygiene" in design, moderated by Lucia Pietrouisti, Michaela Büsse and Adam Drazin will be focussed on.

In the roundtable "Materialities of Dirt" Lucia Pietrouisti will talk with Mya Berger, Lili Carr, Anastasiia Fomina about modes of mediation through design from a material perspective. A paradigm shift from the consideration of objects to considerations of material entanglements in current research positions opens up potentials for a reinterpretation of what "dirt" is.

In the roundtable "I have a problem with cleanliness," Adam Drazin will discuss forms of cleaning in relation to design practices with Aída Herrera Peña, Charlie-Anne Côté, Nancy Dayanne Valladares and the audience. This panel starts with the premise that modes of cleaning are inherent in particular design practices. Therefore, the contributors will examine the production of cleanliness as a field of negotiations between materialities, modes and rules.

In the third roundtable "Meshworks – Design Research as Reconfiguring Natureculture Constellations" Michaela Büsse discusses together with Laya Venkata Chirravuru, Maya Errázuriz and Elisabetta Ratalino universalising claims about the nature of design that often fail to acknowledge the multiple histories and bodies involved in material practice. The contributors start with the premise that instead of replicating inequalities, design research can contribute to untangling material and colonial legacies. In this sense, “clean“ and “dirty“ are seen as only alleged dichotomies; they are two sides of the same coin.

Workshop “Wiping off Labour“

In Ottonie von Roeder's workshop, visitors are invited in cleaning work tools such as laptops, cell phones, or notebooks in a special way. Accompanying the cleaning process, the design researcher talks with the participants about the automation of labour and related critical questions of a designed working world in which standardization and mass production influence human and non-human interactions. The performative process is accompanied by speculative video works that address the mechanization of labour through, for example, cleaning robots.

Audio Station “Radio Palladio: Architecture and Its Ongoing Discontents“

Under the guidance of Angelika Schnell and Antje Lehn, sixteen students of the Bachelor Design studio platform HTC (History | Theory | Criticism) of the Institute for Art and Architecture (IKA) of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna created radio features for the RADIO PALLADIO program at IKA. In the course of the studio they explored contemporary architecture projects and the related theory of history issues. As part of the Study Rooms, selected contributions will be accessible in an audio station.

The studio started with a radio feature by Theodor Adorno in 1959 entitled, “Was heißt Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit?” (What does it mean to come to terms with the past?) Postulating that “National Socialism lives on!”, Adorno urgently pled for the memory of the Holocaust to be preserved, because its destruction would be a betrayal of the victims of Nazi crimes, who in this way would be deprived even of their memory. The term “Erinnerungskultur” (culture of remembrance) is originally related to an emphasis on the perspective of the victims, which Adorno thus demanded and introduced. The first places, architectures and monuments created for such remembrance of a “negative history” were commemorative sites, Holocaust memorials and artistic interventions. But with the passing away of survivors, the subsequent generations’ perspective on a culture of remembrance has become broader. It seems that under the guise of dealing carefully with the past, efforts are made – especially in Germany, but also in Austria – to use architecture in order to “sanitize history”, in a way. Strategies vary, but their intention is the same: reconstructing the state of buildings before 1933 to appear “unsullied”; striving for a cubic, white, minimalist style that purports “neutrality”; declaring monumental motifs to be politically neutral stylistic devices, even though they are directly related to the horrors of the Nazi era.