to bauhaus or
not to bauhaus

Opening week at the
Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, UiB

Philipp von Hase Furniture maker, designer and Mantra Jockey

#lessismore #lessisabore #lessandbetter #uselessismore #lesswecan #moreorless


Bauhaus Manifesto

The ultimate goal of all art is the building! Architects, sculptors, painters we all must return to craftsmanship! For there is no such thing as “art by profession”. There is no essential difference between the artist and the artisan…

Let us strive for, conceive and create the new building of the future that will unite every discipline, architecture and sculpture and painting, and which will one day rise heavenwards from the million hands of craftsmen as a clear symbol of a new belief to come. Walter Gropius, April 1919

Good ideas in design will always require further development and adjustment to new contexts and different challenges, let’s have a look at what happened over the course of the past100 years roughly and how particular design mantras, such as less is more, have been adopted and adapted.


less is more

The Bauhaus ideals - making the highest possible quality accessible to many people – were based on the intimate interweaving of cultural awareness, social engagement, and economic returns.

For companies, this meant that production had to be organized as intelligently and inexpensively as possible, on the condition that ‘the highest possible quality’ was guaranteed.

Mies van der Rohe, modernist architect, born in Aachen in1886

After hundred years less is still more. Fair enough, but in the same time it seems that design companies are trapped in a rat race for the largest market share. In most industrial production processes today the marketing and communication departments have taken the lead and the company’s competitive energy is focused completely on increasing sales. 

Have we lost sight of the higher ideals that were so central to the most influential movement by far in industrial design? What happened to form follows function ?


less is a bore


Less is abore is a term coined by Robert Venturi, a major architectural figure in the twentieth century. Less is a bore is associated with postmodern architecture and the return of ornamented designs and expressive forms. It is a commentary on the minimalism and highly functional forms that have dominated architecture since the 1940s.

Robert Venturi, postmodernist architect, born in Philadelphia in 1925

In the book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) Robert Venturi wrote “less is a bore”, curiously not attacking directly the work of Mies van der Rohe but the Wiley house designed by Philip Johnson, who had stated: I am a hore!


less and better

Good design entails research. Good design equals research. We owe it to the field to reflect on our own practices. Design requires a constant research of new idioms, a push of the limits, and the continual refinement of responses to the most fundamental questions.

Dieter Rams - Industrial designer for Braun - functionalist - born1932

Naturally every generation is entitled to embrace the zeitgeist, to design something new. However, currently the appeal of the new is celebrated as the one and only. As such it no longer equals real innovation and might even be rephrased as ‘the illusion of the new’.


useless is more


JoeVelluto arrives at UseLess is More, a provocation/reflection on our lives always more surrounded by useless objects no longer needed. Industrial design produces useful objects in which utility is the guiding principle and where function determines their essence. On the contrary, Art produces “useless” things, from a functional point of view, but in which the meaning is to play the key-role.

Andrea Maragno aka JoeVelluto, a design and communication studio located in Vicenza, Italy. 2008.

It is interesting to see how artists reflect on designers or the other way around. Designers though who take themselves seriously should strike an effective balance between their experimental, visionary projects and the compelling designs that are worth pursuing for manufacturers.


less linear more circular

Cradle to cradle is a holistyic approach to how we can mimic nature in the way we make and produce things. In nature everything exists, nothing gets lost, but everything gets transformed. Cradle to Cradle, also know as regenerative design, is a biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems that models human industry on nature's processes viewing materials as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms.

Michael Braungart, chemists and William McDonough, designer Co-authors of the Book Cradle 2 Cradle, remaking the way we make things, 2002

By addressing the ‘afterlife’ of every product, designers contribute to a change of mentality in both users and producers. An all-encompassing approach requires designers not to focus exclusively on the functionality and expressive power of a design, but also to investigate how repair and maintenance can be integrated into the final product. Designers should be aware of the circular economy they are embedded in.


less we can

The current economic and social paradigm is /was “faster, higher, further“. It is built on and stimulates competition between all humans. This causes acceleration, stress and exclusion. Imagine a future where shared ideals and moral values point the way!Humanity has to understand itself as part of the planetary ecological system. Only this way, a self-determined life in dignity for all can be made possible. “Degrowth“ is a form of economy and society which aims at the well-being of all and sustains the natural basis of life. To achieve this, we need a fundamental transformation of our lives and an extensive cultural change.

The common values of a degrowth society are care, solidarity and cooperation. In other words earth care - people care and fair shair.

Again humanity has to understand itself as part of the planetary ecological system. Only this way, a self-determined life in dignity for all can be made possible. “Degrowth“ is a form of economy and society which aims at the well-being of all and sustains the natural basis of life. To achieve this, we need a fundamental transformation of our lives and an extensive cultural change.



During a one-week design-build-nothing workshop, titled to Bauhaus or not to Bauhaus, supported by the Norwegian interior architects and furniture designer association, held at Aldea, in June this year; fifteen local designers, artists and crafts people were focusing on the question: What can design add in a world of plenty ?

Through rich discussions and conversations, that have dealt with the value of local production, visible networking and sharing of knowledge, we have come up with a brief manifesto that we think can lay a foundation for a more regional value creation and a more circular society in a world of abundance.

Interaction - Collaborate and transform knowledge through a local network of engagement and involvement to help raise awareness of social challenges.

Circular - In a society of abundance it will be necessary to develop more connected local communities to maintain and secure the opportunities of our and future generations. The design of the future should generate local value chains with a focus on cyclical processes.

Visibility - We live in a time where craft techniques and skills are disappearing, which brings along an increasing disability to maintain essential knowledge and our cultural heritage and souverenity. Circular societies depend on local and national visibility and awerenss.

Touch - Design has its own ability to communicate beyond the verbal. In order to internalize experiences and to shape identity, values and attitudes the emphasis should be on designing with the senses in focus.

Wabi Sabi - The material's natural qualities and appearance, including their irregularities,can contribute to increase the value and production both locally, regionally and nationally. As designers we have a responsibility towards material knowledge and management.


walk your talk

Following the Werkleben mentality, mantra, motto and manifest - I very recently embarked on a material driven design research. Through practicing traditional craft techniques, in this case steam bending of wood, I am currently gaining a better and broader understanding of material properties and small scale production processes. The main aim is reduction of form, reduction of material usage and labour intensity. less is less?

the ‘una’ frame project focuses also on design for disassembly, one piece of ash wood sourced from a tiny saw mill in the fjords, a sheet of glass cut by the local glass master, a back board made from reclaimed material, one piece of wire made in china probably, wood surface treatment with linseed oil and natural bees wax finish, no glue involved, all parts are easily dismountable and exchangeable. very soon available on your local market.


thank you

Kmd - Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, UiB

Aldea - center for contemporary art, design and technology

Nil - Norske interiørarkitekter og møbeldesigneres landsforening

Werkleben - Jouni Kuuva, Susanne Notøy, Lina Haveland, Camilla Figueroa, Imi Maufe, Kjetil Smedal, Kamilla Stokkevåg, Tora Rørvik, Jonas Evensen, Silje Tombre, Marthe Lægreid, Erling Revheim

NkD - Nordic Artists Center in Dale