We were asked recently to design an identity and logo for a new community hall at Shutford Village in North Oxfordshire. Our goal was to create a flexible design to celebrate the new building as a multifunctional, democratic space providing opportunities for diverse groups of people to come together. We aimed to connect the historic with the contemporary by representing Shutford as a place of work, past and present: From the makers of Plush velvet, and the artisan metal and stone workers of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, to today’s artists and designers, people working in offices, trades and professions, those working on the land as well as in homes and gardens.
The Plush velvet woven in Shutford was a thick pile textile made from high quality Worsted yarn, dyed scarlet. The colours used for the designs are the deep scarlet of Plush and Royal Blue for the royal households worldwide that were supplied with Shutford Plush for livery, including that worn at the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia in 1896.
The design concept is inspired by the Bauhaus, a revolutionary art movement with high ideals that promoted ideas about building communities and celebrating the arts and design crafts through a strong work ethic. The name is a combination of the German words for construction or building (bau) and house (haus). Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and his avant-garde friends sought solutions for society through the arts that politics had failed to provide – “mediation between antagonistic interests, the transcending of class barriers, the aesthetic reconciliation of man with himself and with nature, along with the creation of a community solidarity between all races and nations”
Teaching at the Bauhaus often focussed the study of simplified forms, the properties of raw materials and relationships between primary colours and geometric shapes. The figures in our design are based on the simplified, often faceless, human forms created by Bauhaus teacher, artist and choreographer Oscar Schlemmer, such as those designed for his avant-garde theatre production ‘The Triadic Ballet’ (DasTriadisches Ballett) in 1922, which he described as a “party in form and colour” (bauhaus-archiv)
Schlemmer saw the destruction of his country by two world wars and was persecuted by the Nazis who denounced his work as insulting and anti-German, displaying his paintings in an exhibition, of what they called ‘Degenerate art’, in Munich in 1937. Schlemmer saw the simplified human form as a universal symbol of hope that he used to communicate his humanist ideas. He believed that art and design should be human centred and that the purpose all design should lie not in objects themselves but in the needs of human beings.
Schlemmer’s theatrical work has influenced contemporary artists and fashion designers and the Bauhaus is still a major influence on today’s artists, designers and architects worldwide.
This film of the Triadic Ballet was produced in 1970 by Bavaria Atelier GmbH, music by Erich Ferstl