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Which colour palette is used mostly in the bauhaus style?

The Bauhaus style, developed in early 20th century Germany, is recognized for its bold, geometric designs and emphasis on functionality. A key aspect of the Bauhaus aesthetic is its distinctive color palette. Bauhaus designers embraced vivid primary colors along with neutrals like black, white and gray. By thoughtfully combining these colors, they created graphic compositions that embodied the Bauhaus focus on simplicity and minimalism.

Primary Colors

The primary colors – red, blue and yellow – feature prominently in Bauhaus works. These strong, saturated hues provide a vibrant pop of color while also keeping designs clean and visually balanced. Bauhaus artists avoided blending primary colors together, preferring instead to use them in their unadulterated state. This created bold contrast and reinforced the modern, stripped-down aesthetic of the style.

Color Hex Code
Red #FF0000
Blue #0000FF
Yellow #FFFF00

Reds, blues and yellows were ubiquitous across Bauhaus painting, furniture, architecture and product design. Their vibrancy gave energy to abstract compositions while also harmonizing with neutral tones. Primary colors were often combined in a limited palette for a bold, graphic look. For example, the iconic covers Josef Albers created for the Bauhaus books feature visually arresting arrangements of red, yellow, blue and white.


Black, white and gray serve as neutral counterparts to the primary colors in Bauhaus works. Their muted tones create balance and draw further attention to accent colors. Bauhaus designs frequently incorporate neutrals like:

  • Jet black
  • Stark white
  • Cool grays

These quiet yet sophisticated shades align with Bauhaus minimalism. They act as the perfect backdrop for vibrant reds, blues and yellows to stand out. Black and white in particular epitomize the Bauhaus emphasis on simplicity and functionality devoid of ornamentation.

Color Hex Code
Black #000000
Gray #808080

Many iconic Bauhaus pieces, like Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Chair or Marianne Brandt’s tea infuser, use black and metals like chrome or steel to achieve a sleek, sophisticated look. Leading Bauhaus figures like Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee also utilized neutral backgrounds and forms in their abstract painting compositions.

Complementary Colors

Bauhaus designers occasionally incorporated complementary colors into their palettes for extra visual contrast. Complementary colors sit opposite one another on the color wheel. When paired together, they create a strong push-pull dynamic that energizes designs. Some examples of complementary color combinations used in the Bauhaus style include:

  • Yellow and purple
  • Red and green
  • Blue and orange

By strategically blending a complementary scheme with the primary color palette, Bauhaus artists added dynamism and depth to their works. The tension between opposites adheres to key Bauhaus principles of harmony through contrast.

Complementary Colors
Yellow and Purple
Red and Green
Blue and Orange

Color Harmony

While the Bauhaus palette relies on high-contrast complementary pairs, designers still sought to create balanced compositions. Thorough understanding of color theory allowed them to achieve visual harmony. Bauhaus color schemes adhere to principles such as:

  • Simultaneous contrast – contrasting colors intensify one another when paired together.
  • Quantity – the ratio between colors creates equilibrium.
  • Harmonic undertones – colors containing similar hue undertones create subtle cohesion.

By following these and other color harmony guidelines, Bauhaus artists could produce unified designs from diverse pigments. Even wildly contrasting color combinations appear pleasantly coherent in Bauhaus works.

Color Symbolism

Beyond aesthetic impact, color also carried symbolic meaning for Bauhaus practitioners. They believed that each hue elicited a psychological and emotional response. Red, for example, communicates energy and vitality. Blue evokes calmness and tranquility. Bauhaus designers leveraged these color associations to enhance the messaging and mood of their works. Some commonly used symbolic colors include:

Color Meaning
Red Energy, strength
Blue Serenity, wisdom
Yellow Joy, optimism
White Purity, innocence
Black Power, sophistication

Understanding these symbolic associations allows deeper appreciation of color use in Bauhaus works. For example, Wassily Kandinsky’s prolific abstract paintings utilize color to evoke moods and emotions rather than represent objective reality.

Application in Design

The Bauhaus color philosophy extends beyond fine art into practical design. Adherents sought to unify all arts, including architecture, product design and craftwork. Their systematic color principles created cohesion across these disciplines. For example:

  • Bauhaus building exteriors combine white, beige and gray for a sleek, modern aesthetic.
  • Furniture pieces use chrome, black and wood tones for sophisticated appeal.
  • Product prototypes utilize primary colors for visual pop.

This unified application of color theory is a hallmark of the Bauhaus movement. Designers leveraged color’s aesthetic power to create not only beautiful artworks but functional everyday objects that improved daily life.


In summary, the Bauhaus color palette represents a thoughtful synthesis of aesthetic appeal and symbolic meaning. By embracing vivid primary hues, neutral tones and complementary contrasts, Bauhaus practitioners produced bold designs that remain influential today. Their nuanced application of color harmony and color symbolism speaks to the movement’s emphasis on uniting functionality with psychological impact. The Bauhaus transformed color theory from an abstract academic exercise into a design tool that infuses daily life with artistic intention.