Stroll into the Le Faubourg lounge at Sofitel KuDamm to find a spectacular array of classic Bauhaus furniture. The Vitra Cité chair by Jean Prouvé and the famous Walter Gropius chair are found in red, ocean blue, black and mustard yellow in this same very lounge where you can catch soothing DJ sets from local Berlin DJs. The new, stylish furniture is all a part of a recent refurbishment here at Sofitel KuDamm, which includes a library with the original hanging lamp designed by Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveldt, famed for his involvement with the Bauhaus movement “De Stijl.”
The Bauhaus taught one simple principle: Form follows function. Founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius, best known for his architecture, a group of intellectuals harvested this school of thought until 1933, from Josef Albers to László Moholy-Nagy. It became a symbol of modern design, mass producing elegant, cost-efficient design with industrial materials. In other words, if this school didn’t exist, nobody would have IKEA furniture.
Right now, the Bauhaus design movement is seeing a revival in Berlin. The city’s Bauhaus Archives Museum is working towards big plans for the 100 year anniversary of the Bauhaus in 2019. Roughly 80 new acquisitions will be added to the world’s largest Bauhaus collection, which already includes pieces by great design leaders like Walter Gropius, Johannes Itten and Mies van der Rohe.
Here at Sofitel KuDamm, the interior design was co-created by Berlin architect Jan Kleihues (who designed the hotel 10 years ago) and Sebastian Leder, who was working on his project team. Together, they designed the interior of the hotel all the way down to the smallest details – like the door handles, chairs and lamps, which was inspired by the hotel’s history.
“The overall theme is ‘Faces of Berlin,’ which in our minds, does not only mean real people, as we have visually set in the design, but it is also meant as “facettes” of Berlin, as in different aspects of life and culture,” said Leder.
Leder brought in working with Gropius and Prouvé, “who can be interpreted as the French soul mate of Gropius,” he said. “The Bauhaus of course is a cultural heritage of Germany and Berlin, so this seems to work out well.”
“A time in which Paris and Berlin were well known for an extroverted, admired, high society lifestyle, we designed it with a self-set limitation of forms and surfaces” said Leder. “We wanted a calm and somehow pure design with a strong relation between the outer and inner part of the building, with elegant and precise detailing and a few natural but worthy materials which are not reduced in its own atmosphere by the use of additional decoration elements. So from this point of view it is also not a big step to the basic ideas the Bauhaus was dealing with.”