During the early years of his career, Herbert Bayer (1900 – 1985) was involved with the Bauhaus in Germany. Bayer, an Austrian born graphic and exhibition designer synonymous with Modernism, immigrated to the United States in 1938 and became a significant figure in advertising and education.

Biography

After completing an apprenticeship in arts and crafts in Linz and working in an architecture and design workshop in Darmstadt in 1920, he enrolled as a student at the Weimar Bauhaus from 1921 to 1924. His early graphic designs were inspired by De Stijl and Constructivism, as well as the teachings of painter Wassily Kandinsky, including a series of banknotes for the State Bank of Thuringia in 1923. Bayer was named director of the new Department of Typography and Advertising when the Bauhaus relocated to Dessau in 1925.

Universal Typeface

Bayer Universal Font

The universal typeface, 1925, was a geometric alphabet based on bar and circle and was designed by Herbert Bayer (1900) to function efficiently in a technological society. Bayer rejected the “archaic and complicated gothic alphabet” which lingered in the most scientifically advanced society of its time, Germany of the first world war period and the postwar era. From the typography workshop of the Bauhaus which he directed, Bayer issued a declaration to abolish upper and lower case alphabets and replace them with a single case. He called for the renunciation of all suggestion of calligraphy.

Universal Typeface - Herbert Bayer
Universal Typeface – Herbert Bayer

Germany

In 1928, he founded his own practice in Berlin, where he worked in a variety of graphic media, including exhibits, advertisements, editorial, and typographic design, as well as experimenting with new techniques such as photomontage. He continued to collaborate with former Bauhaus colleagues: in 1930, he collaborated with Marcel Breuer and László Moholy Nagy on the design of the Deutscher Werkbund exhibition at the Spring Salon of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs in Paris, and the following year, he collaborated with Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius on the Building Workers’ Union exhibition in Berlin. Bayer’s work at the Werkbund show also included photographic presentations of previous Bauhaus and Werkbund exhibits, hanging at angles from the walls and ceiling to allow for better viewing. He also produced the red and black print catalogue.

10 Banknotes, designed for the State Bank of Thuringia by Herbert Bayer
10 Banknotes, designed for the State Bank of Thuringia by Herbert Bayer

He worked as an art director for the Dorland advertising agency in Berlin from 1928 to 1938, and his work included photographic covers for the cultural periodical Die Neue Linie between 1930 and 1936. However, in the late 1930s, due to the difficult political climate, he emigrated to the United States, where he contributed to the 1938 Bauhaus 1919–1928 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

United States

During the Second World War, he worked as a consultant art director for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York, and from 1938 to 1945, he was also a director at Dorland International Design in New York before moving to Aspen, Colorado, in 1946. He founded the International Design Conference and taught at the Aspen Institute.

Print, Noreen Super Color Rinse, ca. 1953; Designed by Herbert Bayer
Print, Noreen Super Color Rinse, ca. 1953; Designed by Herbert Bayer; Offset lithograph; Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

From 1946 to 1975, he also worked for the Container Corporation of America, where he rose to the position of chairman of its Design Department in 1956. The General Electric Company was another significant client. Bayer played an important role in the diffusion of Modernist graphic design and advertisement in the United States as a result of his participation in a wide variety of design activities.

Museum Collections

In the Media

Herbert Bayer - ObitHerbert Bayer – Obit 01 Oct 1985, Tue The Fresno Bee (Fresno, California) Newspapers.com

Herbert Bayer Bauhaus Poster – SHOP NOW

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.

Additional Reading

Bayer, H., & corporation, r. p. (1967). Herbert Bayer: Painter, Designer, Architect. New York; Studio Vista: London; Tokyo printed. https://amzn.to/3FTpQOz

Bayer, H., & Gallery, M. (1971). Herbert Bayer: Recent Works. J. Enschedé & Zonen. https://amzn.to/3nXwpcO

Bayer, H., & Walla, D. (2004). Herbert Bayer: The Bauhaus Legacy. Kent Gallery. https://amzn.to/3lhfzDM

Chanzit, G. F. (1987). Herbert Bayer and Modernist Design in America. UMI Research Press. https://amzn.to/3o0JcLD

Cohen, A. A. (1984). Herbert Bayer: The Complete Work. MIT Press. https://amzn.to/3xvS7HU

Collection, D. A. M. H. B., Archive, Museum, H. B. C. A. D. A., Chanzit, G. F., Museum, D. A., Bayer, H., Chambers, M., Story, L. W., & Vanderlip, D. P. (1988). Herbert Bayer Collection and Archive at the Denver Art Museum. Denver Art Museum. https://amzn.to/2ZyfxQz

Dorner, A., & Dewey, J. (2012). The Way Beyond Art: The Work of Herbert Bayer. Literary Licensing. https://amzn.to/3FWAfJe

Lupton, E. (2020). Herbert Bayer: Inspiration and Process in Design. Princeton Architectural Press. https://amzn.to/3CZR9ov

You may also be interested in

  • Herbert Bayer (1900 – 1985) – Universal Typeface – Bauhaus Master

    Herbert Bayer (1900 – 1985) – Universal Typeface – Bauhaus Master

    The universal typeface, 1925, was a geometric alphabet based on bar and circle and was designed by Herbert Bayer (1900) to function efficiently in a technological society. Bayer rejected the “archaic and complicated gothic alphabet” which lingered in the most scientifically advanced society of its time, Germany of the first world war period and the postwar era. Read More →

  • Theodor Bogler (1897-1968) German ceramicist and designer

    Theodor Bogler (1897-1968) German ceramicist and designer

    Theodor Bogler (1897 – 1968) studied at the Bauhaus and the University of Munich. He designed a 1923 mocha machine in ceramics for serial production. His earthenware kitchen containers by Velten-Vordamm ceramic factory were shown at the Bauhaus Exhibition.Read More →

  • Herbert Bayer (1900 – 1985) American multi-disciplined designer

    Herbert Bayer (1900 – 1985) American multi-disciplined designer

    Herbert Bayer was one of the Bauhaus’s most influential students, teachers, and proponents. Most of Bayer’s photographs come from the decade 1928–38, when he was based in Berlin working as a commercial artist. He designed the show Road to Victory (1942), which would set the course for Steichen’s influential approach to photography.Read More →

  • Hermann Junger (b.1928) Bauhaus influenced jewellery

    Hermann Junger (b.1928) Bauhaus influenced jewellery

    Hermann Junger was one of the best goldsmiths in Germany. His creative jewellery had a big impact not only in Germany, but also all over Europe and the U.S. He studied at the Staatliche Zeichenakademie, Hanau.Read More →

  • Otto Lindig (1895 – 1966) German Ceramicist

    Otto Lindig (1895 – 1966) German Ceramicist

    He was an enthusiastic supporter of the pottery workshop at the Bauhaus, contending that it should be included in the school’s curriculum. When it was separated into design and production workshops, Lindig supervised the latter, combining hand work and mass production approaches.Read More →

  • Josef Pohl (1894 – 1975) Czech lighting designer

    Josef Pohl (1894 – 1975) Czech lighting designer

    Josef Pohl (1894 – 1975) was a Czech lighting designer. He designed the 1929 precursor of the adjustable lamp. Gerd Balzer produced his model. As part of its Kamden collection, Korting und Mathieson created a similar lamp. Pohl and others at the Bauhaus also executed the prototype adjustable wall lamp illustrated in Staaliches Bauhaus, Weimar and produced by Jucker. In 1932, Balzer and Pohl were given the task of coordinating Bauhaus students’ work, which culminated in a competition for conference and furniture design.Read More →

  • Hermann Gretsch (1895 – 1950) designer for Arzberg

    Hermann Gretsch (1895 – 1950) designer for Arzberg

    Hermann Gretsch was a German architect, engineer and product designer. In the 1930s, Gretsch worked for the Porzellanfabrik Arzberg.Read More →

  • Oscar Barnack (1879 – 1936) and the first 35mm camera

    Oscar Barnack (1879 – 1936) and the first 35mm camera

    The Leica 1, the first functional 35 mm camera, was introduced in Germany in 1925, making photography much more accessible to the general public.Read More →

  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 – 1969) German architect and designer

    Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 – 1969) German architect and designer

    Between 1905 and 1907, he worked as an apprentice to architect and furniture designer Bruno Paul in Berlin, where he studied wooden furniture design. He created furniture for all of his early homes, including the Werner residence.Read More →

  • Josef Albers (1888 – 1976) – German painter, designer, theoretician, and teacher

    Josef Albers (1888 – 1976)  – German painter, designer, theoretician, and teacher

    Josef Albers believed Art, he felt, is seeing, and he believed that his contemporaries had not done a good job of this.Read More →

  • Marianne Brandt (1893–1983) German painter designer and metalworker

    Marianne Brandt (1893–1983) German painter designer and metalworker

    The modernist German designer Marianne Brandt was one of the few women associated with the Bauhaus to make her reputation outside the traditional arts and crafts sectors related to women such as textiles, weaving and pottery. Read More →

  • A Century of Women Designers Who Helped Shape Our Lives

    A Century of Women Designers Who Helped Shape Our Lives

    Brandt is one of over 200 women product designers from more than 50 countries featured in Woman Made: Great Women Designers (Phaidon) by Jane Hall. The author’s wide lens covers the stories of iconic trailblazers and now-forgotten figures alike, and each designer is presented with one of their seminal works accompanied by a short text about their career and life.Read More →

  • The Bauhaus school of design inspires the shapes of these vases!

    The Bauhaus school of design inspires the shapes of these vases!

    Finding the perfect vase for flowers is sometimes the most fun when arranging bouquets. Bunchier flowers deserve a bulkier, more bulbous vase. While more delicate flower arrangements could use a skinny, minimalist vase. You know the right vase when you see it.Read More →

  • S533 Cantilever Chair timeless elegance

    S533 Cantilever Chair timeless elegance

    Technology is transformed into furniture, and an eye-catching invention is transformed into a beautiful interior design product. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the first to give the cantilever chair a light aesthetic and use curved lines to tie it to its surroundings.Read More →

  • Walter Gropius, Lighting fixture in the Director’s office 💡

    Walter Gropius, Lighting fixture in the Director’s office 💡

    It was a lighting fixture of tubular bulbs wired through thin aluminium tubes.  These lights were part of the interior decoration of the Bauhaus Building.Read More →

  • Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1895 – 1946) Hungarian Designer – Applied Arts

    Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1895 – 1946) Hungarian Designer – Applied Arts

    In Budapest, he studied law, while elsewhere, he studied sketching and painting. During World War I, he began drawing and became interested in Kasimir Malevich and El Lissitzky. Read More →

  • End of WWII a revolution in furniture design

    End of WWII a revolution in furniture design

    End of WWII a revolution in furniture design. Womb and shell chairs, biomorphic tables, cat’s cradle pedestals, and architectural shapes are reminiscent of the Second World War’s fertile furniture design era.Read More →

  • Deutscher Werkbund German artistic and production association

    Deutscher Werkbund German artistic and production association

    The organisation, Deutscher Werkund was founded in Munich (1907) to improve products’ design through the joint efforts of artists, craftsmen, and manufacturers: its leading lights were Behrens, Theodor Fischer, Hermann Muthesius and Fritz Schumacher.Read More →

  • Abstract Geometric Bauhaus Prints

    Abstract Geometric Bauhaus Prints

    When you purchase this item, you get all four prints shown in the main photo. All of our prints are created by a process called Giclée (a French word for “spray’). Read More →

  • Walter Gropius Bauhaus Artwork T-Shirt (Short and Long-Sleeve)

    Walter Gropius Bauhaus Artwork T-Shirt (Short and Long-Sleeve)

    This lovely tee is inspired by the work of the German architect Walter Gropius. He founded the Bauhaus School and, along with Alvar Aalto, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modernist architecture.Read More →

You may also be interested

Carl Hugo Pott – German Metal Worker and Silversmith Designer – Encyclopedia of Design

Carl Pott studied design and metallurgy at technical school in Solingen and Forschungsinitut unf Profieramt für Edelmetalle, Schwäbisch-Gmünd. He followed in the footsteps of his father. He became interested in the ideas of the Deutscher Wekund, the Bauhaus and other modern architecture trends in Germany during the 1920s.

Hans Poelzig German architect and designer – Encyclopedia of Design

Hans Poelzig was a German architect and designer, he was born in Berlin. Between 1888-95, studied Technische Hochschule, Berlin Charlottenburg and Technische Hocschule, Berlin, under Karl Schäffer.

Herbert Bayer: Inspiration and Process in Design

by Ellen Lupton (Author) Herbert Bayer (1900-1985) was one of the twentieth century’s most influential graphic designers, with a career spanning more than six decades and two continents. As a student and teacher at the Bauhaus, he pioneered a new approach to graphic design by combining geometry, photomontage, functional analysis, and simplified typography.

Million Mark Note – Design Classic

Design Classic – Influential and important design Designer: Herbert Bayer: wool upholstery and wood frame Date: 1923 The Bauhaus was the most well-known design school of the twentieth century. It was always a small school, with only 1,250 students graduating during its fourteen-year tenure.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.