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The New Bauhaus Celebrates the Founding of the Institute of Design

By Nuria Sheehan

November 18, 2019

L��szl�� Moholy-Nagy Self Portrait
Documentary chronicles the early days of the Institute of Design and the legacy of László Moholy-Nagy

“Moholy believed in the creative potential of each individual, that everybody has some inner talent,” Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, writer and second wife of László Moholy-Nagy, tells us in the documentary The New Bauhaus. A celebration of Moholy-Nagy and the foundation of The New Bauhaus (today’s IIT Institute of Design, or ID), the documentary screened at the Chicago International Film Festival and was selected as a top ten festival pick by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Travis Lee Bean writes in a film review for Forbes:

The New Bauhaus details the original school’s transformation into the IIT Institute of Design, which today hosts some of the top design students in the country.

One of the first faculty members of the Bauhaus in Germany, László Moholy-Nagy left Germany in 1934 after the Nazi regime shuttered the school. Moving to Amsterdam and then London, he settled in Chicago in 1937 to open The New Bauhaus. Moholy-Nagy was enthralled by Chicago. “There’s something incomplete about the city and its people that fascinates me. It seems to urge one on to completion,” he wrote to his wife in 1937. “Everything still seems possible…. Yes, I want to stay.” Moholy-Nagy did in fact stay in Chicago, as The New Bauhaus transformed first into the School of Design, where he continued to pioneer modern design principles and pedagogy.

By drawing extensively on personal archives and interviews with Moholy’s daughter Hattula, the film creates an intimate portrait of this early champion of human-centered design. As Hattula Moholy-Nagy said in a conversation at a recent screening,

He truly believed that through good art and good design, you could tame industry and get it to work for you and have a better world. He believed one could have a better world.

The film is directed by Alysa Nahmias and produced by Opendox. You can sign up for updates and screenings of the film at