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Germany 2011 - Day 8

Germany 2011 - Day 8

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Bauhaus Tour

Berlin, Germany

Today I discovered that Google is sometimes not very accurate. The location marker for the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin was in the wrong place, so I didn't find the location right away.

As it turned out, I still had a good part of the afternoon to peruse the artifacts and take an audio tour of the design museum, featuring the iconic school of art and architecture that has come to symbolize the Modernist movement of the 20th century. The rallying cry of the movement was the Bauhaus Manifesto of 1919 by the founder, Walter Gropius:

Let us then create a new guild of craftsmen without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist! Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise toward heaven from the hands of a million workers like the crystal symbol of a new faith.

Rather a grandiose aspiration, wouldn't you say? But they needed some hope, as this school in post-war Germany was faced with the challenge of helping to rebuild a nation after the bloodiest war in history up to that time.

One could say that the new faith might have been in the dream that modern science and technology would bring global prosperity and unity. Yet, here we are almost a century later, in a postmodern world faced with divisions and crises on multiple levels. So, what does come after modern? What are the ideas that underpin our actions?

I'm not sure how to answer those questions, but it is interesting to note that as web designers and developers, there can often be a separation between craftsman and artist. In practice, designers often think in terms of print design as the ideal facade for websites to emulate, while developers tend to be concerned with the underlying structure and architecture of information. I am both a designer and a developer, so perhaps I'm a throwback to an earlier time, but I'm still not willing to give up on the modernist ideal that there can be a unity in art and technology. It's what we try to practice on a daily basis: to understand the underlying architecture of web technologies in order to provide an appropriate front-end design for the sites and applications we build. At the end of the day, it is the human interaction, the ideas and the content of our communication that matters most.