Dear Sir/Madam: Walter Gropius Petitions the League of Design Thinkers

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    In 1919 Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus, a School of Art, Design & Architecture located in Weimar, Germany. The Bauhaus propagated the methodology of modernist design: rationalism and reductionism. The Bauhaus is hugely important. In Germany, its methodology influenced leading design schools such as the Hochschule für Gestaltung. Beyond this country, a modernist approach to pedagogy is argued to dominate in contemporary design education worldwide. Modernism is argued to have informed notions of “good design” and is cited as increasing the subject’s standing. Rather than emphasizing reductionism, the more recent phenomenon of “design thinking” promotes a holistic methodology. Currently, design thinking is influential in design research and practice. As a “reductionist”, Gropius is not deemed by the fictional League of Design Thinkers to be a design thinker. This contribution sees Gropius petition this institution. He asks why his profound contributions to design are not deemed appropriate in bestowing him the status of design thinker. He requests officials to suggest what his cognitive efforts might be termed if they are not deemed to be design thinking. Gropius moves on to rubbish the concept of design thinking. Gropius also commissions a “protest” self-portrait which aims to help narrate his frustration. A tradition of questioning principles through the creation of fictional scenarios and crafting thought-provoking artifacts exists in design. Here, Gropius is used as a ‘vehicle’ to ask the community to perceive design thinking through a new lens in order to unpick the debate surrounding this influential notion.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    EventPraxis and Poetics, Research Through Design - The Baltic centre for contemporary art, Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, United Kingdom
    Duration: 3 Sept 20135 Sept 2013


    ConferencePraxis and Poetics, Research Through Design
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

    Bibliographical note

    The full text is available free from the link given.


    • Walter Gropius
    • Bauhaus
    • modernism
    • design thinking
    • design fiction
    • critical design


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