The Bauhaus Archive and (Not) Being Like Karl Lagerfeld

I went to Berlin at the weekend, to speak at an event. While I was there I bought some Mozart balls and visited the Bauhaus Archive. I also accidentally ate boiled veal, improvised a child’s nappy from a restaurant napkin and formed some unnecessary opinions about what makes “good lox”, so it’s fair to say I ate quite well. (Or at least, frequently. I’m not sure I recommend the boiled veal.)

Bauhaus Archive

I loved the Bauhaus Archive. There were nice tea pots, dire warnings about Herbert Bayer’s womanising and very aesthetically pleasing audio guides. I neglected to take a photo in the ladies’ loos for my (not very complete) Toilets of the World series, but maybe next time I’ll remember, because they were very nice toilets. Matt also got talking to an elderly academic who carries around a rubber stamp of his name and address, so that he can stamp people and things with his contact details.

I’m a sucker for a system, and every time I hear a bit more about the rigour of the Bauhaus education I think about how much fun it sounds, like being in a Rodchenko exercise photo with added metal work and furniture. In fact, almost everything that seems excellent about it is summed up in this photograph:

Photo: Lux Feininger, “Weavers on the Stairs of the Bauhaus building, 1927”

I have also (and unrelatedly)  been reading Alicia Drake’s book about Yves Saint Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld, called The Beautiful Fall, which was written in 2006. The following extract about the vicissitudes of fashion, FOMO and the unrelenting pursuit of up-to-the-minute newness struck a chord with how we can end up thinking of technology. Anything, anything, as long as it’s new:

It is a grim moment for the designer when he or she finds himself or herself totally out of fashion, left behind, out of synch as time moves on. A new generation is born and the designer’s vision or creative expression no longer describes or evokes the time around them … one of the defining qualities of fashion is that it should describe its epoch and the desires of that moment.

And in an industry based on making money from trying to harness the moment, everyone … is consumed by the dread that the moment is slipping through their fingers, that it will be gone and they will be unwanted … Eric Wright, former long-term associate of Karl Lagerfeld, says about Karl: “His greatest fear was not being part of the moment.”


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