Form follows function. That’s one of the guiding principles of Modernism. Every morning, I go past a building where this principle was resolutely put into practice for the first time: the Bauakademie in Berlin. The Schinkel building, destroyed in the Second World War, is one of the forerunners of modern architecture. That is why we in the Bundestag decided in 2016 to rebuild it.
Today, nearly 200 years after the Bauakademie was erected, the question of form following function has emerged in a new way.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to find new forms for the functions of public debates. Digital events will never replace face-to-face encounters. For some events, however, the internet is a pretty good medium; and not just as a makeshift solution.
This year’s Design Summit shows what wonderful and innovative forms are possible in a virtual format. I’m certain that events such as this provide lasting impetus for the future.
That form follows function was also one of the basic principles of the Bauhaus, whose centenary we celebrated last year.
The aim of the school founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919 was to break down the barriers between art and craftsmanship. “Let us create a new guild of craftsmen, without the class distinctions which raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist.” That was what Gropius called for in the Bauhaus Manifesto.
During my many encounters with the Bauhaus last year, I was fascinated by the respond of These ideas around the world. Bauhaus students came from all corners of the planet, from Greece to Japan.
In India, too, the ideas of the Weimar school were well received. Back in 1922, the first joint exhibition of Bauhaus artists such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky with Indian avant-gardists such as Nandalal Bose and Shanta Devi was held on the premises of the Indian Society of Oriental Art in Calcutta.
From 1961 onwards, the newly founded Indian National Institute of Design took up numerous ideas of its German predecessor. Only recently, its Director, Professor Praveen Nahar told the magazine “Design Week”: “Many of our working practices directly derived from the Bauhaus”.
The Bauhaus idea was complemented and further developed in India by a tradition of exquisite craftsmanship, a couple of thousand years old. Just as in the case of the Bauhaus, solutions were found for all areas of life – from tractors to Ventilators.
The histories of the Bauhaus and the National Institute of Design show that the cultural and creative industries make a hugely important contribution towards exchange, innovation and strategies for the future.
Together with a whole host of international cultural professionals and project partners, today Germany and India are implementing creative industry projects in an array of fields from music to fashion and game design.
These international networks and the creative exchange are of enormous value to our societies. Design in all its diversity was therefore also the focus of the call for proposals for the Funding for the Creative Sector 2020, which the Federal Foreign Office organised for the first time in 2019 and 2020.
I’m delighted that an Indo-German project, “MADE IN – India and Germany” was one of those that received funding. With this project we are creating a platform for exchanging knowledge, patterns and know-how between German and Indian fashion designers. In reality, there are no borders when it comes to the creative realisation of, and reflection on, design.
Dear guests of the Design Summit,
The Bauhaus and the National Institute of Design show us that design can develop both small and large-scale solutions which take us forward as a Society.
Or in other words, we need a new interaction of form and function in order to find new answers to the questions of our time.
Design innovations not only create objects fit for the future but also provide answers to social issues. Whether it be climate change, sustainability or migration – the design branch is a key partner as we tackle current and future challenges.
The following panel discussions will show in how many spheres design is essential today, from the healthcare sector to urban mobility.
India and Germany can learn from and with one another here. In the spirit of the Bauhaus, we all have to focus on our strengths and have the courage to discover new paths. If we have the courage to change our perspective, then we can use form and function in an optimal Fashion.
I wish you every success, stimulating discussions and interesting Encounters.
The video of my speech can be watched here: