Twentieth century architecture and design would never have been what was if it weren’t for the genius of German-born architect Walter Gropius. Founder of the epic Bauhaus School in Germany – the world’s most famous monument to modernism – and one of the most influential designers and preeminent tastemakers of the movement, his contribution to the field is immeasurable.
As an architect, Gropius believed passionately in bridging the gap between technology, industry and architecture. He spent his early career in Berlin, including a stint at the firm of Peter Behrens – one of the pioneers of the utilitarian school of thinking. His list of fellow employees at the firm reads like a who’s who of architectural wunderkinds: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Dietrich Marcks, etc… Eventually Gropius went on to found the Bauhaus school, founded on the principle that all of the arts, including architecture, should be brought under one roof to form a total work of art; this became one of the most influential aspects of modernist architecture. Ultimately, the onset of World War II and the rise of Adolf Hitler eventually drove Gropius out of Germany and he eventually settled in Massachusetts. It was there he formed the professional organization, the Architects Collaborative, and helped carry out the design of many important and world-famous commissions including the Harvard Graduate Center, the U.S. Embassy in Athens, the University of Baghdad, the Pan Am Building and the John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building. Gropius also made his mark in furniture design, creating pieces with the philosophy that modern furniture could be pleasant to look at while still serving form and function. Among his most notable pieces are the F51 armchair and sofa, designed for the Bauhaus director’s room; nowadays remakes of the F51 are available by the German designerTECTA/Lauenfoerde.