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Designing History: Bauhaus Chicago

Caeley Harihara Senior Division Individual Web Site

The history classes in our school were shown a list of possible topics for National History Day. I was advised by my teacher to select a topic that has not been over-explored, so I went from Frank Lloyd Wright to Bauhaus design. I did not know anything about Bauhaus and, upon reading the name, I assumed that it was about fashion design. However, when I started researching the topic and discovering what it was really about, I was hooked! Our history teacher took us to a few libraries around the city. Among the libraries we visited were the Harold Washington Library, the Chicago History Museum, the Newberry Library, and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Library. In each library, I searched their catalog for Bauhaus and read as much background material as I can. I soon realized that there were several key personalities in Bauhaus Chicago or the New Bauhaus, primarily Laszlo Moholy Nagy and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. When I visited the UIC library, I stumbled upon the Special Collection room where they have archives indexed under Bauhaus, for an industrial designer named Charles Harrison. After that, my research was done through a combination of library visits, internet research, and the purchase of 3 books. Given the many Bauhaus designs I wanted to showcase, I debated between making an exhibit or a website. It wasnt much of a debate, as I know that I am not adept at the mechanical and artistic skills involved in creating an exhibit. The website sounded very appealing, as it seemed like fun to attempt, and I thought it would give me more of an even playing field against other more experienced NHD participants. It is also a more fitting medium to lay out the many branches and influences of the Bauhaus School of Design. I read the NHD rules and the NHD tutorial material on how to get

started. I also viewed many sample NHD websites. Once I had an outline, I started drafting how to design the flow of the website, and revised the outline accordingly. I used Google to look up many tutorial documents and videos on the various capabilities of the Weebly web development platform. I continued to learn about these website building tools all the way to the end of my project. The Bauhaus School, both a school of design and philosophy, was the first to train a new crop of artists of the masses. It served as a turning point in history because it moved art and design away from the individually crafted luxury products to the design of elegant products -- products that could be mass-produced using the latest technology, thereby making them affordable and available to many people.