Far from being an affront to the original ideal of the Bauhaus to change the environment through good, affordable design, the coffee mugs at the Tate Modern shop (see April SR) embody the Bauhaus utopian project more successfully than the Bauhaus had ever done.
The original designs were only affordable to the elite. Now most people in Britain can have a small yet useful piece of modern art at their breakfast tables.
Also Bhattacharyya's friend was wrong to sneer about how the art world has coopted the objects by displaying them within an art museum, thereby nullifying their radical aims.
Bauhaus artists and designers, including Moholy and Albers, actively sought to exhibit work within galleries and museums throughout their tenures at the school. How else would the masses get to see it?
The relationships between useful and fine art objects, as well as between commercial and public institutions, are more complex than that and have been since the decline of religious and state patronage.