During the Weimar period, the workshops were led by a craftsman as a master of works and an artist as a master of form. The intention was to absorb the arts into the crafts, but the artists had a greater representation in the masters’ council and this resulted in an imbalance. After the orientation towards the new unity of art and technology in 1923, education at the Bauhaus increased its emphasis on mass production. This pushed the aspect of artisanship into the background.
The practical work in the workshops was at the heart of education at the Bauhaus. In keeping with the guilds, the titles apprentice, journeyman and master were used at the Bauhaus during the Weimar period. The students usually took their journeyman examination after three semesters. This was the requirement for them to start the building apprenticeship and receive the master craftsman certification. Throughout the Weimar period, the individual workshops adopted a dual approach: each master of form as the artist responsible for design and aesthetic aspects was supported by a master of works, a craftsman who imparted the technical skills and abilities related to the craft. Technical craftsmanship was understood as the ideal unity of artistic design and material production.
In the initial period, the painter and art teacher Johannes Itten – who was concerned with the education of the artist based on his or her own individual attributes – headed almost all of the workshops as a master of form. In 1922, Walter Gropius successfully asserted his concept in the sense of an orientation towards industry. László Moholy-Nagy was appointed as the new head of the metal workshop.
With Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Georg Muche and Oskar Schlemmer , almost all of the masters participated in the move to Dessau. Former students took over the management of the workshops as junior masters. Josef Albers became head of one department of the preliminary course, Herbert Bayer became head of the printing and advertising workshop, Marcel Breuer head of the carpentry workshop, Hinnerk Scheper head of the wall painting workshop, Joost Schmidt head of the sculpture workshop and Gunta Stölzl head of the weaving workshop. In 1925, the company Bauhaus GmbH was founded to market the products.
With the move of the workshops to the new Bauhaus Building in Dessau, the masters became professors and all the graduates received a Bauhaus diploma. In the statutes, the secondary goal (after education) was “the performance of practical experimental work, especially for house construction and furnishings, as well as the development of prototypes for industry and the crafts”. All of the workshops were more intensively aligned to cooperation with industry. Furniture and other everyday utility objects were designed as products that could be made on the production line, so that it became possible for broader groups of buyers to acquire high quality and reasonably priced goods.
Above all, this was emphasised by the guiding principle of the second Bauhaus director, Hannes Meyer, who targeted the “needs of the people instead of the need for luxury”. The Bauhaus established workshops such as the advertising department, which was part of the photography workshop under Walter Peterhans. In the wall painting workshop, the Bauhaus created its most commercially successful product, the Bauhaus wallpapers. The third Bauhaus director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, reduced the established structure and role of the workshops by orienting them towards an architecture that used contemporary construction methods and materials.