The Bauhaus was not a house: it was an awakening. It was made up of people, personalities and their approaches. It was a laboratory and a school; a place for research, teaching and creativity. A place for the arts, color and culture. The values enshrined by the Bauhaus are as alive as never before.
Five truths established one hundred years ago. That still hold true today. And that will continue to have an impact on us in the future. Our Charta.
Furniture is for people
“The ultimate goal of all art is the building.” Thus read the first sentence of the Bauhaus manifesto, written by Walter Gropius one hundred years ago. He believed that buildings should be designed for people, not for the powers that be; that they should be understandable rather than overwhelming. To do so, he said, it would require architects, craftsmen and artists who thought independently: people who designed holistically, as though from the same mind. The Bauhaus school, with its design vocabulary, emerged out of this philosophy: it produced a style that was clear, reduced and so universal that it was understood throughout the world. We at Walter Knoll share this philosophy. We hold the uplifting, even liberating, impact of modernity in high regard. To us, the purpose of a piece of furniture is to create warmth, and a sense of security and trust. Walter Knoll designs furniture and objects that have a purpose. People feel immediately at home in spaces with Walter Knoll furniture – because we use the same universal vocabulary of color and design.
True beauty is timeless
The Bauhaus was more than a revolt against ornamentation and excess. It was above all a liberating force that brought design back to its roots. Color, form, scale: the Bauhaus uncovered the age-old geometry of aesthetics. And once the dust of the centuries had been swept away, this new generation of artists and craftsmen came up with its forms of timeless coherence. Pure, reduced, classic. Just as the golden ratio existed before it was discovered, the Bauhaus describes an archaic aesthetic that dates back far more than a century. In that sense, modernity was never a fashion, but a tradition marked by the rediscovery and revision of true values. And upholding these values is a part of Walter Knoll’s identity.
Craft is the refinement of design
“We must all return to craftsmanship!” Walter Gropius wrote in his manifesto, calling for the creation of a new guild without “a prideful barrier between craftsmen and artists.” It was in this “purposeful and cooperative endeavor of all artisans” – in the interaction between poetry and know-how, intuition and technology – that the Bauhaus movement was born. It is also the point from which Walter Knoll begins its work every day. Art is the refinement of craft, Gropius said. But we also know the reverse to be true. In the same way that art and craft were united in the Bauhaus school, design and craft are intertwined at Walter Knoll. As are construction and imagination; perfection and craftsmanship; attention to detail and a passion for materials and technology. By balancing all these aspects, the ideas of architects and designers become true interior masterpieces.
A product is good when it makes an improvement
The Bauhaus school was an awakening. It married art and craft – and connected both disciplines with the technology of the time. It was characterized by an unbridled curiosity for processes, industry, working techniques and manufacturing. In this way, nearly every creation that came out of the Bauhaus pushed the boundaries of the feasible. That is also our approach at Walter Knoll. We only consider a product finished when it has made an improvement. When it has added a new vital element to its category. When it has done more with less. When it has set aesthetic standards as well as standards in manufacturing, workmanship and sustainability. We cannot live up to these standards on our own. Our headquarters is located in the heartland of modern technology. Some of our partners have their roots in the Bauhaus school. But what they all share is a passion for innovation. And for making good things even better.
The more we leave out, the longer we last
The Bauhaus is alive. As a school of the classics. As a standard and an approach. Its timelessness stems from an intense reduction process. From designs, philosophies and forms that are so clearly and rigorously distilled that they are able to withstand the test of time. We do the same at Walter Knoll: in our designs it is only the essence that remains. Relevance emerges out of the opposite of indifference. Concealed in every design are hundreds of ideas we have discarded. We keep on refining as long as we need to. Then we ask ourselves: is it truly good? Is there anything else we can leave out? It is this ambition that creates values that last. And it is this process of refinement that enables us to create furniture with relevance – with designs so fully developed in terms of form, workmanship and materials that they transcend generations.