A Bauhaus Home
If houses were people, Gropius House would be the type of person who’s curt, prompt, straightforward, Type A, intimidating but not condescending, relatable, quite likeable, refined, sartorially clean, and exuding minimalist elegance. Their minimalism, however, would extend beyond a heavily curated Instagram aesthetic: They would live conscientiously and perhaps even ascribe to “slow living,” but they would actualize the philosophy unknowingly and naturally—and not because they discovered it in Kinfolk’s mission statement. They would maintain the lifestyle towards which many of Kinfolk’s devotees (think: wooden-chopping-board-and-overpriced-lattes loving marble-countertop-white-space-pretty-tiles enthusiasts) aspire. They would live simply, intentionally, and responsibly, but without needing to ensure that everyone sees them doing so. Such a person aligns with the principles around which German architect Walter Gropius founded The Bauhaus in 1919, an revolutionary institute and movement that placed efficiency, economy, simplicity, geometry and functionality at the foundation of architecture. The two-story Gropius House, tucked away in Lincoln, MA, is not a staggering beauty that dazzles or wows like the Newport mansions in Rhode Island. Rather, it stands quietly and unobtrusively, melding into the surrounding greenery. Built in 1938 by Gropius himself, the house is now a part of Historic New England, the country’s oldest architectural heritage organization. The moderately sized building emanates a quiet elegance, its beauty emerging from the essence of its design rather than from ornamentation. Gropius incorporated wood, brick and fieldstone conventional in New England architecture with the materials deemed innovative and rarely used in residences at the time like glass blocks and chrome banisters.
As with any house-turned-monument preserved to be a portal connecting a past era to the present, it’s impossible to walk through Gropius’s home without sensing that the person who’d built and lived within its walls was an influential force. And he most certainly was. Walter Gropius combined the Academy of Fine Arts with the School of Crafts in Weimar, Germany renaming it Bauhaus: Bauen (to build) and hausen (house) literally translates Bauhaus to “House of Building”—such economy of language is testament to his philosophies. In 1933, the Third Reich closed down the Bauhaus and four years later, Gropius became an emigre, relocating to Massachusetts to teach at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He, his wife Ise and daughter Ati arrived in New England with little but the furniture made in Bauhaus workshops and four acres of land lent to them in Lincoln.
With no knowledge of its history, Gropius House is simply an aesthetically pleasing, well-designed, sleek modern house with beautiful lighting and photo ops; you can approach it with a certain kind of historical sensitivity, toeing the line between meaningful visitation and mere voyeurism.You may even revel in the fact that Alexander Calder, Joan Miro, Frank Lloyd Wright, and other notables of the twentieth century worthy of Gropius’s hospitality also walked on the same roof deck, through the living room and into the four bathrooms.
When Gropius died in 1969, he left his wife Ise a two-sentence will stating that “he loves and trusts her with his legacy.” She turned the house into a museum and by doing so has in turn left us and trusted us with the legacy of a man whose influence will transcend time.
Art By: Pimploy Phongsirivech