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The New Bauhaus

Forming a New Bauhaus

The American descendant of the German Bauhaus, the Institute of Design at Illinois Tech was founded as “The New Bauhaus” in 1937 by Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy. A year later Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a former director of the Bauhaus in Germany, became head of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology—making the university a global center of modernism in the mid-twentieth century.

The Bauhaus had a revolutionary agenda: to create a new aesthetic appropriate for a modern industrial society. The school integrated disciplines, looked at design holistically, and sought to use technology to improve our quality of life. These are all approaches that ID maintains today.

Explore the history of The New Bauhaus.

The New Bauhaus logo
Now a new Bauhaus is founded on American soil. America is the bearer of a new civilization whose task is simultaneously to cultivate and to industrialize a continent.
—László Moholy-Nagy

An American Bauhaus

In 1937,  Americans were eager to align themselves with the progressive Bauhaus. And today, the ideals that László Moholy-Nagy instilled as founding director—including Foundation, his approach to critique, and his focus on experimentation—are still present at ID.

The Institute of Design embraces the spirit of the Bauhaus as we continue to push the boundaries of design. ID’s activities today may look very different than they did in 1937, but our commitment to using our constructive abilities to create better and more functional futures remains. ID continues to be where the future of design is created and refined.

Students working at The New Bauhaus.
The founding of the New Bauhaus is one of the unsung cultural watersheds in the city’s history.
—Thomas Dyja

ID Today

Classroom looking out over the courtyard

Beyond the Bauhaus

ID has significantly evolved since its founding to meet the needs of a changing world. In the 1950s and 1960s, then dean Jay Doblin introduced design theory and systems design into the ID curriculum. Starting in 1986, ID dean Patrick Whitney led the development of the fields of human-centered design and strategic design, again transforming and evolving ID’s focus.

This fall, Shapeshift celebrates ID@85: 85 Years of Making the Future as we unfold an important new chapter.

Kaplan Institute at night

ID is the only North American partner of the New European Bauhaus, an interdisciplinary initiative developed to help the EU achieve the goals of the European Green Deal and make Europe neutral by 2050.

At the inaugural conference, ID professor Carlos Teixeira facilitated a workshop, “Co-Designing the New European Bauhaus,” in which participants leveraged best practices in design to realize the New European Bauhaus’s ambitious objectives.

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