Home from Berlin

Berlin is amazing. I wish we had been able to visit for longer, but it was very exciting to get a couple of nights there and – natürlich – it was wonderful to see Christine Hill and inspiring to see her work – DIY Bauhaus – included in the Bauhaus Modell exhibition in the Martin Gropius Bau.

Posters, Christine Hill’s DIY Bauhaus installation

Bauhaus Modell is a massive, 90th anniversary celebration of the history of the Bauhaus School and Christine Hill’s work was organised within the exhibition like a trade show. Brightly-coloured booths were filled with different archives, activities, collections and objects designed to allow viewers to contemplate their own relationship to living spaces and the impact of Bauhaus on everyday life. In one booth, quotidian objects including the name ‘Bauhaus’ in their branding or description were collected, so that popular-culture adoption and appropriation of the name could be seen across a range of everyday items. I especially loved the Bauhaus Lego that was included in this collection of objects, but sadly neglected to photograph it.

Bauhaus toolkit containing Bauhaus tools, part of Christine Hill’s DIY Bauhaus work

In another area of DIY Bauhaus, a printed diagram and related toolkit were presented, perhaps exploring how the word Bauhaus is now the name of a popular DIY store in Germany. In the press release for the show, Christine writes about an exchange she had with a taxi-driver about the Bauhaus Archive:

En route to attending an early meeting for the planning of “Modell Bauhaus”, I asked a cabbie to take me to the Bauhaus-Archiv in Berlin. He asked rather carefully why the Bauhaus required an archive. I equally carefully asked him to which Bauhaus he was referring, and there was a low, murmured “Heimwerkerkette?” [“DIY Store?”] in response. In no way do I perceive such a response as being ignorant, nor do I poke fun at my cab driver’s interpretation. Rather, such an exchange indicates where the name, and understanding of the name has landed, and how it resonates within vernacular culture.

– Christine Hill, DIY Bauhaus Statement*

Poster/diagram behind toolkit in DIY Bauhaus

Another element of DIY Bauhaus was an area where you could write about your own living space and contemplate your relationship to design and domestic space by plotting your imagined or real living spaces on graph paper. Mark and I spent some time drawing on these forms.

My carefully filled out and filed submission to DIY Bauhaus

I envisaged my ultimate living situation and drew outbuildings, apple orchards and a woefully innacurate rendition of some rare breeds of sheep, which I hope to include in this scenario. Mark however went for drawing his actual house. I was touched to see that my knitting and his tea were included as perennial elements on his living room floorplan.

Mark’s carefully filled out and filed submission to DIY Bauhaus

We were both very excited** to be able to validate our submissions with the use of proper, custom-built rubber stamps, and to leave the exhibition with paper measuring tapes and beautifully-made newspapers relating to the content of DIY Bauhaus.

DIY Bauhaus official stamp

It was marvellous to talk with Christine in the city where Volksboutique was originally born and I wondered if there might be a trace of the building where the project started. Sadly, the building where the original Volksboutique store once was, is gone. Happily, Volksboutique – the brand, the idea, the brilliant ethos – is very much still here.

* You can read the full artistic statement here.

** OK probably I was more excited than Mark was about the rubber stamps.

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