The Bauhaus was a German art school active from 1919 to 1933 and became famous for its approach to design, which unified the principles of mass production with an artistic vision that combines aesthetics with function.
In conversation with Jörg Klambt
ecoBirdy’s co-founder Joris Vanbriel spoke with Jörg Klambt, director of the designshop of the Bauhaus building in Dessau, about similarities between design classics and ecoBirdy’s designs, and current topics such as sustainability and inclusivity.
Joris: The Bauhaus designshop is a reference for design enthusiasts. A unique design selection inside the framework of a larger museum context. I believe the selection is carefully made and also contemporary. Jörg, please tell us what is the role of the shop for you?
Jörg Klambt: The Bauhaus designshop is not just a “gift shop”, but it is part of the monument.
In the Bauhaus building in Dessau, the shop is in the former metal workshop. It is a place where major inventions in design and architecture happened. We are sharing the world heritage here. Our purpose is not to sell just objects, but to display and explain them to the visitors.
It is very important that we explain the history of Bauhaus. When we show the Classic Bauhaus Designs, visitors are given the opportunity to try and feel the objects, which is less possible in an exhibition. When we select products from contemporary designers, we always keep the same multisensory approach in mind as the originals.
Metal workshop in use, 1927-29; interior of the designshop Bauhaus Dessau.
Joris: How to create a dialogue between Bauhaus classics and new designs?
Jörg Klambt: Bauhaus brings a special approach to the world, which is optimistic. Finding basic elements to create a better future. It is much more than just a play of shape and styling.
A design is a complete process to create a better life for people. For the shop, we aim to find new designs that are made and developed with the same sense as the original designs. The same goal and idea. To demonstrate that the Bauhaus is not something from the past but an initiative that still going on.
Joris: Nowadays, sustainability is an important issue and part of the society and design world. How to connect Bauhaus and sustainability?
Jörg Klambt: The initial idea of Bauhaus was developed right after World War I: a very insecure period with the strong need to create something new, that could bring people together, while caring for the environment. This idea of striving for a better future and a better environment still unifies us today. This is the reason why our store is centering more and more on sustainability.
In the museum shop, visitors are given the opportunity to try and feel the objects.It’s material, function, and environmental awareness together. This is Bauhaus heritage.- Jörg Klambt, director of the designshop Bauhaus in Dessau
The Bauhaus building in Dessau, designed by Walter Gropius and completed in 1926 is considered as an icon of modernism and home of the famous School of Art, Design and Architecture. Since 1996 the building complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Joris: At ecoBirdy, we believe in the design approach to use most of the available technology to create something functional and environmentally friendly. I believe there is some similarity with the concept of the Bauhaus school. What do you think?
Jörg Klambt: We like ecoBirdy’s products because they follow the idea and path of Bauhaus. For instance, I like the ecoBirdy Charlie Chair very much. Because the idea of creating children’s furniture is something that could have possibly been brought up at the time of Bauhaus. Your design reminds me of Alma Siedhoff-Buscher at the Bauhaus. Both of you choose essential elements and allow your imagination to play with them. You created a pattern that kids can develop. A chair that is truly shaped for kids’ ergonomics, without sharp corners and that gives a happy sensation. It is colourful and it is possible to use it outdoors. It allows kids to play, work, and use it at their own will. This is a strong connection with the original idea of Bauhaus.
Designs for children’s furniture and toys by Alma Siedhoff-Buscher; ecoBirdy Charlie Chairs at the designshop Bauhaus Dessau.
Joris: The idea is to use your imagination freely and get inspired.
Jörg Klambt: Exactly! This was the novelty the Bauhaus created. Before that, we had to follow the rules and traditions of education. If you can make your furniture become a tool that allows kids to develop their own future, their own approach, and their own relationship with the environment, I think it has a very strong connection with the Bauhaus concept.
Another point is the new material, you applied a material that gives you the possibility to combine form and function, which is strongly related to Bauhaus too. At that time Bauhaus was about glass and steel, and the tubular furniture that came out of these “new” materials.
Joris: Talking about material, ecoBirdy made a new material from recycled plastic that expresses the concept of recycling by keeping the flakes visible.
Jörg Klambt: A lot of objects are made with recycled plastic, however, I think that this shouldn’t be “the end of the road”. What I like about ecoBirdy is that you go further! You created and understood the material that allows you to bring new aesthetics. We see this both in the kids’ collection and in the Mabo Plate. Unlike other objects that just bring the material together, in the Mabo Plate, we see you integrate usability, making food easy-to-scoop and the plate easy to hold and clean. It goes beyond finding a surface or a styling. It’s material, function, and environmental awareness together. This is Bauhaus heritage.
Joris: The Mabo Plate is also designed to be inclusive and meaningful in today’s society.
Jörg Klambt: In my opinion, we should bring the minority into the center of our philosophy and idea, because when we are ageing, we naturally become a minority. Everybody will somehow get into the situation of having special needs. That is what I like about Mabo Plate (read more about Mabo Plate’s inclusive design).
ecoBirdy’s Mabo Plate and table cloth Kanon with pattern designed Bauhaus master Gunta Stölzl, displayed together at the designshop Bauhaus Dessau; Joris Vanbriel and Vanessa Yuan, designers of Mabo Plate, discussing technical details.
Joris: How can we differentiate ourselves from POP design?
Jörg Klambt: When it comes to the environmental issue, we don’t have time to play around. It is serious and it is important to avoid taking the subject in a light and ironic way as in the 80’s, with POP designs. Even though I personally like POP designs very much, I think that we need to take things more meaningfully today. We need to go further, like you do with upcycling, for example: it’s not only about upcycling plastic, there’s also something more to it.
The unique link
With Bauhaus being one of the most influential design currents ever existed, we are honoured to hear about the similarities with our designs. The functionality of the items, the smart use of resources and materials to produce them, ergonomic design and constant development and innovation are core principles of ecoBirdy.
Bauhaus is for me the most important reference in design, a style that I have a lot of feeling for. The combination of art, industrial production and function in a pure form.
The Bauhaus movement and its key figures created a fascinating period in the history of design that I've always been interested in. It inspires me to work on a relevant design story at this time.
- Joris Vanbriel, ecoBirdy co-founder and designer
Joris at Bauhaus School in Weimar, 2002-2003.