Open Studio Tokyo
Substances of colour
Vassily Kandinsky's concepts of Bauhaus design education
23 . – 25 . 3 . 2017
The three days studio was re-addressing Bauhaus teaching concepts of Vassily Kandinsky in the context of a Bauhaus design education essentially based on a renewed understanding of arts and crafts. In his teaching and his art works Kandinsky manifested a path of modernist abstraction which allowed to discover and explore colour as material and substance with unique qualities and meanings beyond functions of representation in illusionistic paintings. According to this view of Kandinsky on colour as substance, than all other kinds of design material could be regarded also as materials with special values.
Kandinsky's teaching in the Preliminary Course was compulsory for new students from 1922 to 1930. The analytical drawing instruction based on the shapes of circle, square, triangle and rhombus and has been an essential part of the Bauhaus’s design-oriented teaching work. Kandinsky‘s colour seminar was part of the introduction to the ‘abstract form elements’ class and into the relationship of colour to form. Together the courses were intended to enable the students to perceive and interpret colour and shape and to undertake abstraction as the basis for independent synthetic design.
An essential example to be explored in the studio was the form and colour study „Still Life“ (1928) of the Bauhaus Student Erich Mende. Based on this analysis the students oft he Kuwasawa Design School focused on a scene from Kandinsky´s stage composition „violet“ (1914/1927) to create an adaptation as a short performance about the abstract synthesis of colours and forms in substantial motion.
Kuwasawa Design School Tokyo
Asuka Kawabata (Kuwasawa Design School Tokyo)
Aki Toyoshima (Kuwasawa Design School Tokyo)
Makoto Shindo (Paul Klee Society Japan)
Linda Pense, Leipzig, Germany
Torsten Blume (Bauhaus Dessau Foundation)
Questions for Asuka Kawabata
It was not for the first time that the Kuwasawa Design School was a guest at the Bauhaus Dessau. During your last visit the preliminary course of Josef Albers with his material lessons played a vital role. To which topic did you dedicate yourselves this time?
Asuka Kawabata: Last time, we explored the potential of the shape with a sheet of paper as our material. This time we dealt with the relationship of colour and shape with the students.
Are the form and colour lessons of Wassily Kandinsky, then integral to the classes at the Bauhaus, still relevant for designing processes in the 21st century?
Yes, form and colour have always been at the core of design practice in the analogue as well as in the digital era.
Today designing mostly relies on 2D and 3D drawings and modelling on computers. Are classic material lessons still part of the curriculum at Kuwasawa Design School?
During our preliminary course we encourage students to design with their hands. One of the typical exercises is called “hand sculpture”. Students have to carve a shape out of a block of wood which exactly ts their hand. For doing so, they have to gure out the shape by exploring the material with their hands, not with their eyes.