Alexandra Halperin | April 19, 2019 | Culture
I’m a child of the Bauhaus; it has informed my sense of design in every aspect of how I see the world, how I interact with structure, my personal dress code, as well as publishing, typefaces, collecting and reading. My mother was a WWII bride from Chicago. Bauhaus represented a new beginning, look and startling design. Structures built with “form follows function” simplicity were affordable for returning GIs.
And I guess I am a bit of a Bauhaus snob. Teachers from the school left Germany to escape the Nazis and landed in many countries. Walter Paepcke created the Chicago Institute of Design—which became The Aspen Institute—as a haven to further Bauhaus ideas in the U.S. Paepcke eventually brought Herbert Bayer and Ferenc Berko, who had studied with László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius, to Aspen to chronicle and help shape the sleepy town into a utopian village for the mind, body and soul.
After WWII, returning vets and newlyweds were open to change. Bauhaus design signified a clean, affordable, modern era in which to start a family in a better world.
Early in 1952 my mother and father set out for the suburbs with four children. In the Midwest, my mother was the first on our block to buy two colors of Saarinen womb chairs, a Saarinen tulip kitchen table, Kandinsky curtains, a Florence Knoll couch, a Bertoia slated wooden bench, and an Alvar Aalto card table with bentwood chairs with joyous curves and sharp corners. Now those pieces are spread across the country in my siblings’ (and my) homes.
Turns out, the wisdom of investing in Bauhaus-inspired objects is evident in how enduring and fresh those designs remain today. If you know where to look in Aspen, (hint: Start at Aspen Meadows) you’ll begin to sense that Bauhaus doctrines and philosophy continue to mold the way we aspire to exist on the planet.
Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum