Whenever I go to the German-speaking world, I'm struck by the passion there for cluttering up all domestic architecture and interiors with little bits of handicraft and decorative gee-gaws, heart-shaped wherever possible. I'd always imagined this frilly, homespun, 'traditional' aesthetic was something deeply ingrained in the warp and/or weft of the German-speaking soul. Then I heard an architecture critic called Jonathan Glancey describe the reaction of people given houses in the one and only pure-Bauhaus housing project to be erected. This is what he said:
"When the Bauhaus did actually design some houses, famously, at, I think it's the Torten estate in Dessau - that is mass produced concrete houses, 334 of them; they were rushed up in prefabricated concrete - almost instantly the residents started customising them."
Now I wonder whether in fact the frilly, homespun, 'traditional' German aesthetic is really just a 'customising' reaction to the austerity of the Bauhaus.
Graham Swift: Mothering Sunday
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