APFEL embrace Bauhaus for Barbican show

A Practice for Everyday Life (APFEL) has worked with architectural studio Carmody Groarke on the exhibition design for Bauhaus: Art as Life which opened at the Barbican Art Gallery this week in London…

A Practice for Everyday Life (APFEL) has worked with architectural studio Carmody Groarke on the exhibition design for Bauhaus: Art as Life which opened at the Barbican Art Gallery this week in London…

The show, which runs until August 12, contains over 400 works from the most prestigious and extensive Bauhaus collections in the world and looks to provide and in-depth exploration of the school’s 14 year history, focusing on the lives of its students and staff and the community they created.

Together Carmody Groarke and APFEL have, they say, designed “an architectural installation of elemental forms that both compliments and enhances the exhibition’s contents.” As a result, the Barbican Art Gallery has been physically rearranged to create a bespoke viewing experience for its visitors.

Graphically, the show’s design has been informed by Bauhaus principles of colour, structure and typography, with brightly coloured walls, bold panels and super graphics conspiring to draw together exhibits, themes and ideas. The typeface used throughout the exhibition, FF Bau (designed by Christian Schwartz and commissioned by Erik Spiekermann), is a contemporary revival of Breite Grotesk, a letterpress face largely used within the Bauhaus itself.

“Designing an exhibition about the Bauhaus is every graphic designer’s dream, but it’s also a daunting challenge,” APFEL’s Kirsty Carter told us of the project. “It already holds such a vivid visual presence in the public consciousness, and this makes it very difficult to design for a Bauhaus exhibition and create something that feels original,” she continues. “Our approach was to start with a really intensive research project, looking into all aspects of the Bauhaus and its rules, and then reinterpreting them in an exhibition context – aiming for a design that felt true to the spirit of the school without resorting to pastiche or parody.

“We have looked to the Bauhaus’ wall painting workshops in choosing the exhibition colour scheme, studied its principles of typography when designing titles, labels and captions, and taken cues from its exhibition design work when designing the structure of the show itself. The Bauhaus: Art as Life exhibition is as much about celebrating the Bauhaus’s occupants and their community as it is the iconic works they created, and we have tried to provide a similar sense of human context and character through the exhibition design.”

APFEL has also designed the accompanying hardback catalogue, cover below (and top of this post). Here’s a look inside:

Bauhaus: Art as Life runs at Barbican Art Gallery until August 12. More info at barbican.org.uk


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