Bauhaus is many things besides an art school founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 : a school, a philosophy, an ideal, and a design heritage. But one thing it has never been before is a single corporate identity. To design one for the Bauhaus-Archiv Museum, Stuttgart-based designer Sascha Lobe of L2M3 had to figure out how you go about encapsulating something that means so many things to so many people while maintaining the school’s “less is more” ideals. Lobe’s answer to the problem? A unique, extensible typeface that embraces the character, nuance, and edge of the Bauhaus movement itself.
Describing the process of developing the new Bauhaus-Archiv typeface as “an indulgent ride full of surprises,” Lobe took his inspiration from Herbert Bayer, the famous Bauhaus typographer. “Bayer was just such an unexpected designer: full of experimentation, bravery, and spirit,” Lobe tells Co. Design. “I used his expressionism as the ignition for my work.”
Using Bayer’s experimental 1925 Universal typeface as a base, Lobe supplemented it with over 555 glyphs that, together with the Bauhaus-Archiv’s new logo, can be endlessly adapted for print and digital mediums like apps, cards, posters, merchandise, and even 3-D signage. “We didn’t want to just copy or update an existing typeface,” says Lobe. “We wanted to extend it and modernize it, as well as build a framework that allows it to be extended in the future, while maintaining the experimental nature that is at the heart of Bayer’s design work.”
“It was critical for us to deliver a beautiful and complex typeface, which provided the Bauhaus-Archiv with an inexhaustible supply of options to work with going forward,” he says. “But we wanted there to be peculiarities in the typeface, to give it structure, as well as an edge.” To unify the new glyphs with the existing letters, Lobe’s team used parameters such as line width and X-height of Bayer’s typeface, which Lobe says “paradoxically” gives the typeface as much diversity as it does conformity.
Lobe acknowledges that no single typeface will ever be able to evoke the grand totality of what Bauhaus means to everyone. “How could it?” Lobe asks. “We’re dwarves, standing on the shoulders of giants.” But by creating a typeface that can be extended according to a set of core ideals by a future generation of Bauhaus-inspired designers, Lobe hopes that they have, at least, given the Bauhaus-Archiv a corporate font as timeless as itself.