Shelving: From Bauhaus to your house

Maia Devereux Maia Devereux
Blank Interiors Living roomShelves
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Although almost one hundred years have passed since the creation of the first Bauhaus, the principles established in this revolutionary design school, first at the hands of Walter Gropius and later by the guru of minimalism Mies van der Rohe, are still detectable in much of contemporary design. 

Those ideas now seem almost normal, but when the Bauhaus was founded they represented a complete break with the then prevailing styles. The creators of the Bauhaus sought functionality over form, resulting in design without artifice; geometric and simple. Their ideas had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography. Today we look at a variety to contemporary shelves by designers here on homify to show that the influence of the famous German design school is still readily traceable in modern furniture design. 


Geometric shapes, simplicity, functionality… all these elements are present in this design by Jordi Canudas for Delica . The idea seems simple: three vertical and three horizontal shelves with slits so we can arrange them at will. However, whatever arrangement you choose to make from the basic elements, the composition always ends up being irregular and harmonic. The key to this lies in the name of this modular shelving unit, Phi 60. Phi is both a number (1.618… ) and the 'golden ratio'. The length of each piece is the product of either multiplying or dividing 60 by Phi, and all of the arrangements they can be placed in have as a result a kind of harmonious symmetry. 


The designers of the Bauhaus were the first to adapt the industrial style to the everyday, with simple designs that made use of materials that were previously were reserved for other fields and purposes. Their use of industrial materials was in part a product of their attempt to explore whether mass production could be reconciled with individual artistry. We see the combination of industrial materials with pure simplicity in this shelving unit from Versat . It's a modular bookcase, with wooden shelves, and a structure and assembly of steel painted in black. Although not quite part of our focus for today, we can't resist mentioning the cowhide chair, clearly inspired by the LC4 by Le Corbusier – although not a member of the Bauhaus, he was heavily influenced by the movement.

Intersecting shapes

Rectangular shapes that intersect at different heights and sizes. This is the starting point of this handcrafted shelf, that has a gorgeous geometric sculptural quality. The design, by Inés Benavides, conveys a sense of dynamism while the aubergine shade brings a lovely pop of colour.

Pure functionality

We mentioned above the centrality of functionality to the Bauhaus aesthetic, and that is precisely the idea that lies behind BrickBox, a system composed of stackable modules made from plywood birch wood that fit together without any screws. The light birch wood means they are easy to transport, and assembly and disassembly is extremely simple – just lift and move! Practical handles on each module will transform them from shelf to box in one swift move. 

Colour blocks

Primary colours – blue, red and yellow – were a feature of both Bauhaus art and furniture design, arranged in blocks with stark dividing lines. Look at this shelf, and be reminded of a Mondrian painting – the colours might be brighter and more playful, and the arrangement less considered, but the influence of his geometric arrangements of colour blocks is readily detectable. 

Vertical and horizontal

Striking and impressive, this shelf from Furniture Decoration Madrid has a balanced and symmetrical composition, but at the same time it's dynamic; despite the preponderance of horizontal planes it is the verticality of its modules which strike the viewer most. A play on binaries and contrasts: brown and white, horizontal and vertical, to create a stunning chiaroscuro.

Do the simple, functional geometrical forms of the Bauhaus appeal to you? Let us know in the comments!

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