It was 4th of October. While on a lonely trip back home after college, I was met with a copy of the London Evening Standard on the train. Being alone and tired after a long day, I resorted to reading the newspaper to gain some deviation away from my day. While browsing through the pages, I came across an article about UK government’s funding of arts. The article quoted the culture minister Matt Hancock talking about not cutting funds on arts in London in the times of crisis following the Brexit. That got me thinking of scenarios of it happening.
What if funding on design and arts gets reduce? What if the Brexit reduces the purchasing power of people who have been always the patrons for the creative industries? Has the creative industry gone through such scenarios before? Being a former student of NID, Ahmedabad which was started with the Bauhaus ideology in mind and where the students were told a lot of stories about the Bauhaus, I found certain similarity with the world where we live now and the pre-Bauhaus Germany.
The misery ,the First World War brought to Germany along with Walter Gropius’s idea of design, helped accelerate the creation of the Bauhaus. Not just the institution of the Bauhaus, but also as an idea. The idea which was driving the Bauhaus was trying to change the ornamentation style of design and moved to a more functional language of design. The rise of the Bauhaus couldn’t have come at a better time. After the world war, Germany was depleted with resources and money, and the purchasing power of the buyers was reduced drastically. I am not saying we are at that stage of the economic disaster, but the fall in the value of the British pound is alarming. Maybe the funding may not be cut today or tomorrow, but if the fall of the pound continues, I am sure it will come. It made me scared thinking about the future of design, but I begin to feel better thinking about how financial and political constraints gave rise to the idea of Bauhaus.
In the Bauhaus, due to lack of funding, students were forced to sell their designs they made in the workshop to provide funds to buy materials for the workshops. Sometimes, the students were paid in clothes and food. The designs which came out of the workshop, where raw material was a constraint, gave rise to innovative designs. Designs were developed which would be easy to manufacture. For example, Hin Briedendieck’s tea- glass holder which was designed to be made by stamping out of sheet metal in one piece and bend into shape.
I am not trying to be a dilettante. I believe, instead of looking at political events such as the Brexit and the fall of the value of the British pound as a forthcoming of the end of a fertile design environment, we should look at the Bauhaus as an example and work on forming a new idea of design which can help us get out of such situation like the Bauhaus did. Even if the Bauhaus died, the idea is still be seen being applied to almost all the surrounding things. Maybe we will provide with a chance to create an idea like the Bauhaus, which will help us solve the problems we have in our world right now. Let’s not let that chance go to waste. I believe if constraints will create necessities, we should use it as an opportunity.
Written by: Jessy Heirekrujam, DMC 2019.
References: Cecil, Nicholas and Robert Dex. “London Will Be Protected From Arts Funding Cuts”. Evening Standard 2016: 8,16. Print. Rowland, Anna. Bauhaus Source Book. London: Grange Books, 1997. Print.