For design aficionados, the name “Bauhaus” evokes near-mystical thoughts of Walter Gropius, Mies van Der Rohe and their disciples. Their radical approach to design, art, and architecture transformed America’s post-World War II urban landscape and sense of style.
The Bauhaus school is long gone, but it will be part of the zeitgeist in 2012. During the London Olympics a major Bauhaus exhitibion will also take place in the city. A new Bauhaus museum is underway in Weimar, Germany, and one of the country’s three existing Bauhaus museums plans a major expansion.
But the impact and influence of the Bauhaus has sparked plenty of hangers-on. And, as Spiegel Online’s Paul Glader reports, the name Bauhaus continues to spark controversy.
“Up to 40 companies in Germany and myriad others abroad have taken the word ‘Bauhaus’ as a brand or title,” he writes. “The imitators include a furniture label in the United States, a rumored bordello in Japan, a chocolate variety that touts its form and function, a real estate company and the early British gothic band led by Peter Murphy.”
It’s also the name of a German-Swiss DIY home improvement chain that trademarked the Bauhaus name in postwar, divided Germany. The retailer now has 190 stores in 15 European countries, and is slated to open new stores in Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.
As the Bauhaus name has grown to embody an ‘everyday aesthetic’, fans have long forecasted its ultimate demise.
This concern spurred the Bauhaus Archive Museum, one of three museums founded to protect the Bauhaus legacy, to sue the DIY chain to take control of the name in the 1970s. But a German judge ruled in favor of the company, deciding that the term ‘Bauhaus’ can “no longer be attributed to a specific person, but has become a style concept that is part of the public domain.”
That might mean a future where the Bauhaus name evokes a big store, not a big concept.