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Illinois Tech launches design festival to commemorate Bauhaus heritage

Learn about the Bauhaus professor that founded the Institute of Design

A one-story dark steel framed building with large glass windows. Thin and wide steps lead up to the entrance.
S. R. Crown Hall, designed by the German Modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

The Illinois Institute of Technology, well known for a collection of Mies van der Rohe-designed buildings, will launch its own design festival in September.

Bauhaus was a design school in Germany that existed for a short time, but had a profound influence on artistic philosophy and the modernist movement. Mies directed the school and popularized modernist architecture in Chicago with structural steel and glass buildings.

For Bauhaus’ 100th anniversary, the university will launch the inaugural Shapeshift: Design @ Illinois Tech from Monday, September 16 to Saturday, September 28.

“With our Shapeshift exhibitions and events, we look back on our early years as the New Bauhaus and consider how we’ve evolved,” said Denis Weil, dean of the Institute of Design at Illinois Tech, in a statement. “Our work in building sustainable solutions and cooperative futures demonstrates that we continue to greet ‘the challenge of technical progress with its recognition of social responsibility,’ as Moholy-Nagy had put it decades ago.”

László Moholy-Nagy was an artist and Bauhaus professor. In the late ’30s he moved to Chicago to work as the director of a new design school, which after a few setbacks, eventually became Institute of Design at Illinois Tech.

The two-week festival will partly honor Moholy-Nagy and his connection to Bauhaus. It involves educational workshops, art exhibitions, panels, lectures, performances including a ballet and film, and guided tours by faculty from the Institute of Design and College of Architecture. A full schedule of events can be found on the schools website.

Two of the exhibitions will focus on the story of American Bauhaus and Mies van der Rohe’s architecture around the world. The Bauhaus exhibit will highlight the Institute of Design’s early history and Moholy-Nagy’s involvement in founding the school and new movement. The Mies’ photography exhibit was previously featured at the Farnsworth House museum earlier in August.

“Mies and Moholy-Nagy rarely saw eye-to-eye,” said Reed Kroloff, dean of the College of Architecture at Illinois Tech, in a statement. “Shapeshift represents our embrace of these different approaches as a creative platform for discovering equitable and sustainable solutions to the challenges facing cities now and in the future.”