German Industrial Design in the Holy Land – A Short Overview on Israeli-German Design-Relations

German Industrial design in the holy land was quite unthinkable after 1945. But since the 1960s designers from Israel and Germany came again in touch. In this short overview I will discuss the relations of the West German Industrial designers to Israel from the 1960s to the 1980s. I will argue, that personal relations were much more important than institutional connections, as one might think.

The beginning of the diplomatic relations between Israel and the FRG in the year 1965 was a kind of a breakthrough. After the Shoah relation with Germany, as the country of the enemy, was a controversial topic in the Israeli society. With the first steps of the Reparations Agreement from 1952, Adenauer and Ben Gurion laid the basics for diplomatic relations in the future. They came thirteen years later by a diplomatic agreement between Bonn and Tel Aviv. With this it became easier for privates or economical connections between West Germany and Israel. It is also important to mention that East German design was hardly unknown, because the GDR had no connections to Israel. East Berlin supported the so-called PLO, like the USSR and other countries from the Eastern Block did, and had no diplomatic relations to Tel Aviv.

Visit of Konrad Adenauer in Tel Aviv, May 1966, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-P092350, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Industrial Design was far away from being the post important point at the cultural or economical relations between the two countries. But anyhow, in the 1960s the design connections started growing. They are an interesting point for a transnational design history to study, how the relation between two states came in touch. I will show in the following two parts, that the relationship between these two countries was more based on personal than on institutional connections.

Institutional Connections

First a lot of West German politicians, industrialists, and designers in the 1960s were very much interested in a connection. Looking into the historical sources, the national socialism, the Shoah or the Second World War, were neither not used as a references nor even mentioned. The Germans as well as the Israelis were much more interested in a design exchange of ideas and goods, bounded with an economical connection. Even after Israel became a member of the International Council of Industrial Design Societies in 1969, the industrial designers of both countries came regularly together.

But after the Six-Day-War in 1967 things went more difficult for German design in Israel. After that, many West German companies were frightened to present their consumer goods in Israel, because they expected as a result a boycott by Arabian states. The Yom Kippur War from 1973 made things even worse, so West German companies and authorities became more careful with their engagement in Israel.

This is also example to show, that a design network had not to go via institutions but can use the personal networks. Because the personal than the institutional connections characterized more the design relations between Israel and the FRG. For example the German Design Council – as state founded institution – planed to show an exhibition in Israel since the end of the 1960s.1 The financial support should come from the Federal Foreign Office in Bonn. In particular Gustav Stein – managing director of the German Design Council and member of the West German Parliament – pushed the idea of a design exhibition in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem forward. But the idea was postponed many times. The background was the fear of a boycott by Arab countries, if companies would present their goods in Israel. So they asked the authorities in Bonn and the German Design Council to postpone the exhibition until the idea was dropped. Till the end of the Berlin Wall, there was no Israel or German design exhibition, it first changed after the German reunification.

Personal Connections

Now in the second part, I will give some example how a personal network between Israel and the FRG brought the industrial designers from the two states together. This is important, because as I would argue, most of the connections between Israeli and West German since the 1960s came on a personal way via designers themselves. In the following I will give three examples from each decade to visual this.

In the year 1965 the “form” – the most important West German magazine at that time – published a first reportage on Israeli design. In it Moshe Kohen described the current status of industrial design in Israel. The country was characterized by a lot of migration, thus the Israeli authorities had to build fast but with quality a new livelihood for newcomer in the Holy Land. Following the author design had a very strong position in fulfilling this task. Beside that, the reportage informed the West German readers about the institutions, universities, and the economical situation, the Israeli designer were dealing with in the 1960s.2 It was remarkable, that historical references of design history – one might immediately think about the Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv or German architecture sights in Jerusalem or Haifa – were not mention in this article or else where later.

The design connection between Israel and West Germany put on current issues and not reflection history. For example, the article author Moshe Kohen was part of the most important design school in the FRG. Kohen graduated in 1963 at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm. His diploma thesis in the field of product design was on dishes, supervised by Gert Karlow, Leonard Bruce Archer and Horst Rittel.3 Thus Kohen was an design expert, who was trained in Southwest Germany and worked later in Israel. So Kohen is one example for the personal network between both countries. It is a pity, that his binational design biography is not in the focus of the design history till today.

Another prominent example is the visit of 1973 by Julius Posener – by this time head of the German Werkbund – together with Wend Fischer – director of the Neue Sammlung in Munich – and Wilhelm Wagenfeld – a famous German product designer.4 The three important German designers were invited to an exhibition vernissage in Jerusalem, where the design by Wagenfeld was shown to an Israeli audience. All three were also guests at the new permanent exhibition on Israel design in the Israel Museum. Posener wrote fascinated about the welcome address by Teddy Kollek, the famous major of Jerusalem by that time. Especially the biography of Posener could be worth to have a look at, because he was forced to emigrate after 1933 to Palestine due to the National Socialism in Germany and later came back to Germany. Via Posener there could be a strong connection between i.e. the German Werkbund and Israel, but this needs more archival research in the Posener Archive in the Academy of Arts Berlin.

The last example is the personal exchange in design education. The Siemens designer Jens Reese gave in the end of the 1980s a design seminar series at the famous Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. In these seminars he taught his ideas of creativity methods. Especially his visual permutation methods – a kind of elemental design method – were widely asked by the Israeli design students. Reese was also interviewed by the “form” on his impressions about Jerusalem, Israel and the design there. He gave an interesting overview on Israel design education, difference between continental Europe and the Holy Land as well as his experiences from the design courses at Bezalel.51 Rat für Formgebung, Tätigkeitsbericht 1970, pp. 15.

2 Kohen, Mosche (1965): Briefe aus Tel Aviv – Design in Israel, in: form (31), p. 10-11. Very similar to that was the article Steiner, Simon D. (1966): Design in Israel, in: Industrial Design (5), pp. 68-71.

4 Posener, Julius (1973): Besuch in Jerusalem, in: Werk und Zeit (7), p. 7.

5 See Unknown (1986): Spinner gesucht, in: form (114), p. 78 and Reese, Jens (1988): Mit traumwandlerischer Sicherheit gestalten… in: form (121), pp. 23-25.

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“Design for City Environment” – The Interdesign Seminar 1980 in Tbilisi

The idea of a city as an environment for living came on the agenda of the designers during the 1970s. This was connected for the designer with an interdisciplinary approach, especially with architects and city planners. One prominent example for this is an international seminar in Georgia in the fall 1980.

The seminar “Design for City Environment” was held from the 6th to the 18th October 1980 in Tbilisi. It was organised within the seminar series by the Soviet VNIITE in cooperation with the ICSID, the IAA (International Association of Art), the ISOCARP (International Society of City and Regional Planners), the ICOGRADA (International Council of Graphic Design Associations), the ICOMOS (International Council of Monuments and Sites), the IFI (International Federation of Interior Designers), the IFLA (International Federation of Landscape Architects), the UIA (International Union of Architects) and the WCC (World Crafts Council).1

The 34 participants came from the USSR and from Western countries.2 The professions were widely mixed, thus designers, architects, and met in the capital of the Georgian Soviet Republic at the regional office of the VNIITE. Tbilisi itself was chosen because of a number of its features: there was a combination of a national tradition as well as modern architecture. The city was with over a million inhabitants hugh and had a situation with special climatic conditions.3

View via Tbilisi, Lotkini is in the center behind the trinity cathedral

The interdesign seminar had the aim to find methods to build the environment of a big city within an urban growth and a massive increase of population.4 To study such questions the participants looked at the Lotkini district in Tbilisi (ლოტკინი), were 17 000 new accommodations were planned. During the interdesign the (international) experts tried to find answers on functional, aesthetic, and socio-cultural problems. Questions like the functional organization of a district, the public services, greenery, design and visual communication, and applied arts. The designer especially looked for aspects on graphic design, secondary architecture, and usability. At the end of the seminar the participants submitted a general concept for the district development for housing, industrial complexes, transport infrastructure, and public spaces.5

View via Tbilisi

The “Interdesign 1980” was the first seminar with international and interdisciplinary cooperation, which tried to solve problems of building a human environment. Furthermore it was a kind of opening for the Soviet Design authorities – like the VNIITE with Yuri Soloviev – to Western experts.6 But this seminar also showed also how limited the possibilities of ideas and plans were. At least only few points from the interdesign seminar found their way into the Lotkini district.

1 Unbekannt (1980): „Stadt-Design“ als Interdesign-Seminar in Tbilissi vom 6. bis 18. Oktober 1980, in: form (90), p. 80.

2 Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, Great Britain, GDR, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Venezuela and the Soviet Union.

3 Unknown (1980): Interdesign ’80 Tbilisi/USSR, in: ICSID-News (November/December), pp. 2-3.

5 Like footnote 3.

6 For further reading Tom Cubbin’s article (https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/30/1/16/2623682/Postmodern-Propaganda-Semiotics-environment-and?redirectedFrom=fulltext) and Yulia Karpova’s PhD thesis from 2015 (www.etd.ceu.hu/2015/karpova_yulia.pdf), pp. 328, are an excellent starting point.

Die Bibliothek des Rats für Formgebung für und in der Designgeschichte

img_7134Seit seiner Gründung 1951/52 war die Bibliothek für den Rat für Formgebung eine der zentralen Serviceeinrichtungen. Denn mit dem Gründungsbeschluss erhoffte sich der Bonner Bundestag eine gesteigerte Wettbewerbsfähigkeit der westdeutschen Investitions- und Konsumprodukte. Gleichzeitig wurde die erste fachliche Leiterin Mia Seeger damit beauftragt, der sogenannten ,Guten Form‘ zum Durchbruch zu verhelfen und das gestalterischen Niveau in der noch jungen Bundesrepublik zu steigern. Die Bibliothek hatte hier die Aufgabe designspezifische Fachinformationen zur Verfügung zu stellen.

img_7062Der Bereich Bibliothek und Informationsservice in Darmstadt besaß für diese Aufgabe zwei wesentliche Funktionen. Ähnliche wie andere Bibliothek sollte internationale und nationale Fachliteratur aus dem Themenbereich Design systematisch gesammelt werden. Und gleichzeitig galt es diese zugänglich zu machen. Erstens geschah es in der üblichen Form, dass die Literatur als Präsenzbestand sortiert wurde und jedem Interessierten die Bibliothek offen stand. Besonders Studierende der nahen Werkkunstschule bzw. Fachhochschule Darmstadt nutzen dieses Angebot auf der Mathildenhöhe. Obwohl sich die Verantwortlichen beim Rat für Formgebung auch mehr Besucher aus der Industrie und anderen Designinstitutionen erhofften, kamen beispielsweise der überwiegende Anteil der ca. 600 Besucher 1975 von lokalen Bildungseinrichtungen.

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

Die zweite für eine Bibliothek weniger gängige Art der Informationszugänglichkeit waren die sogenannten Literaturhinweise bzw. die Design Bibliography. Die Mitarbeiter fertigten seit 1961 DIN-A-6 Karteikarten zu jeder Publikation an, welche vierteljährlich an Abonnenten – Privatpersonen aber auch Design-Institutionen – verschickt wurden. Als zusätzliches Hilfsmittel wurden die Karten mit Dezimalklassifikationen versehen und Indexlisten erleichterten dabei eine spätere Suche. Von 1966 bis 1975 bot der Rat für Formgebung seine Literaturhinweise als englischsprachige ,Design Bibliography‘ an.

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

Im Auftrag des Industriedesigner-Dachverbands war das sogenannte IIC (ICSID Information Center) für die Erstellung dieser internationalen Literaturkartei für ungefähr 1.000 Bezieher zuständig. Daneben unterhielt der Rat für Formgebung auch lange Zeit ein eigenes Dia- und Bildarchiv, welches besonders aus Produktphotographien bestand. Eine Designer-Kartei, in welcher sich alle Industriedesigner freiwillig eintragen konnte, sollte bei der Vermittlung von Aufträgen zwischen Designern und Industrie behilflich sein. Im Gegensatz zu den Literaturhinweisen wurde das eigene Bildarchiv und die Designer-Kartei vermutlich aufgrund von Personalknappheit seit Anfang der 1980er Jahre kaum noch gepflegt. Alle drei Serviceeinrichtungen bieten jedoch für eine bundesdeutsche Designgeschichte eine kaum zu überschätzende Quellenbasis. Zumal heute die Stiftung Deutsche Design-Museum den großen Verdienst hat, diese kostbaren Bestände systematisch und wissenschaftlich aufzuarbeiten. Für zukünftige designhistorische Forschung bietet daher diese Sammlung viele neue Zugänge und Funde.

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

Die Sammlungstätigkeit im Bereich der gedruckten Literatur zeichnete sich auch dadurch aus, dass die Bibliothek des Rats für Formgebung im Kalten Krieg auch über die sogenannten Systemgrenzen hinweg Literatur bezogen. Zeitschriften wie das sowjetische Zentralorgan „Техническая Эстетика“ des Allunions Instituts für technische Ästhetik in Moskau oder die Zeitschrift „form + zweck“ des Ostdeutschen Amts für industrielle Formgebung wurden lückenlos in Darmstadt gesammelt. Daneben wurden etliche weitere Monographien, Kataloge oder Magazine aus Polen, Ungarn oder der damaligen Tschechoslowakei in die Bibliothek übernommen. Westliche Literatur aus Frankreich, Großbritannien, Italien oder den USA wurden ebenfalls vom Rat für Formgebung in die Bibliothek integriert. Ebenso bemühte sich der Vorstand des Rats bei der Geschwister-Scholl-Stiftung um die Übernahme der ehemaligen HfG Ulm-Bibliothek nach Darmstadt. Der Ulmer Oberbürgermeister entschied sich jedoch diese Bibliothek leihweise der Universität Ulm zur Verfügung zu stellen.1 Durch den sukzessiven Ankauf von Fachliteratur wuchs die Bibliothek des Rats für Formgebung im Laufe der Jahrzehnte zu der führenden Designbibliothek in der Bundesrepublik. So standen den Besuchern beispielsweise im Jahr 1987 ca. 4.500 Bücher, 140 Zeitschriften mit ungefähr 1.500 Jahrgängen und über 10.000 Literaturhinweise zur Verfügung.2

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

Nicht ganz ohne Selbstlob titelte daher die eigene Zeitschrift ,design report‘ schon Ende 1972, dass die Bibliothek des Rats für Formgebung als ein der „bestorganisiertesten Design-Bibliotheken der Welt“ galt und auf Empfehlung der UNESCO in die internationale Statistik für Fachbüchereien aufgenommen wurde.3 Und bis heute ist diese Bibliothek einer der zentralen Orte für die Recherche bezüglich der bundesdeutschen Designgeschichte. Mit der langjährigen Leiterin Helge Aszmoneit befindet sich die Bibliothek seit 1987 in äußerst kompetenten und zuvorkommenden Händen. Die dortige Hilfsbereitschaft und Arbeitsmöglichkeiten lassen diese Literatursammlung bei dem Frankfurter Messeturm zu einem kleinen designhistorischen Forschungszentrum werden. Sämtliche bibliographischen Angaben und Signaturen können über den Frankfurter Bibliotheksverbund online vorrecherchieren werden. Und da die U-Bahnanbindung zum Hauptbahnhof mit knappen 5 Minuten äußerst kurz ist, sind auch Anreisen außerhalb des Rhein-Main-Gebiets jederzeit ohne Probleme möglich. Bei Bedarf können die örtlichen Kopierangebote benutzt werden, schlichte Notizphotographien sind ebenfalls möglich. Ebenfalls für Forscher_innen nicht unerheblich ist die Verpflegungsmöglichkeiten vor Ort. Ein großes Einkaufszentrum, keine 5 Minuten zu Fuß entfernt, bietet eine breite kulinarische Auswahl, sodass auch diesbezüglich keine Wünsche offen bleiben.

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

© Rat für Formgebung/German Design Council

Für jede_n Designhistoriker_in mit dem Forschungsschwerpunkt auf der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts ist daher ein Besuch in der Bibliothek des Rats für Formgebung eine große Bereicherung.

1) Protokoll zur Vorstandssitzung des Rats für Formgebung vom 12.7.1973, S. 6f.
2) Aszmoneit, Helge (1987): Die Design-Bibliothek im Rat für Formgebung, in: design report (1), S. 19.
3) Unbekannt (1972): Eine der besten Design-Bibliotheken der Welt, in: design report, vom 08.12.1972.

 

Vielen herzlichen Dank an den Rat für Formgebung und besonders Helge Aszmoneit für die Unterstützung und für die  Abbildungen.

«Som en gjesteforsker i Norge» or Being a Visiting PhD Fellow in Norway

This fall I had the great honour to be a Visiting PhD Fellow at the University of Oslo for two month. Thanks to Professor Kjetil Fallan – one of the leading design historians – the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art, and Ideas offered me the opportunity to come to the capital city of Norway.

Kjetil Fallan is a Norwegian professor of design history, e.g. editorial board member of the Journal of Design History and the Design and Culture as well as an author of many publications about design history. His books, papers, and presentations are very inspiring for me and I used a lot of his publications in my PhD thesis. For example his last publications from this year are Designing Worlds: National Design Histories in an Age of Globalization and Designing Modern Norway: A History of Design Discourse, which I used in chapter on globalised design. I met Fallan at the workshop “Environmental Histories of Design” in the summer 2015 at the Rachel-Carson-Center in Munich. This intensive workshop about sustainability in design history was really inspiring for me (see my blogpost about the workshop). I think the same will be for the annual conference of the Design History Society, which will be held 2017 in Oslo. The title is “Making and Unmaking the Environment” and is organised by Kjetil and his team.

Against the background that I had studied twice abroad with a lot of good experiences, it was obvious for me to visit another university outside of Germany during the PhD project. And it was also consistent to combine this with writing my chapter about the West German Industrial Designers in a globalised world. Because of Fallan’s high quality research, as well as Norwegians‘ high fluency in English, I decided to apply for a research fellowship in Oslo. And happily, the department at the UiO were willing to invite me and offered me working space for two month.

Getting financial support for my Norway stay was also possible. Thanks to the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, which supports my PhD project since 2014, it was not too complicated to get extra money for my visit. If this way would not be successful, there were also a possibility for Germans to apply at the Willy-Brandt-Foundation in Oslo, because they are also supporting academic exchanges for researchers. It would also be possible to apply for a short visit scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service.

Beside the whole organisation of my visit in Oslo, there was one detail I was really astonished about in a positive manner. All correspondence, contracts, and inquiries were in a digital form. Furthermore my impression was that everything went on quite fast. For example “digital” and “fast” are not adjectives I would use for the German bureaucracy, especially at universities. That is a good thing to show, that in Germany e.g. a lot of time and energy is invested in discussions on a digital life – and in Norway many things are made more pragmatic in this point. Or to reflect one self and use the word from an interview with foreigners in Germany: “Paper in Germany is valued like God”.

The art history section, where Professor Kjetil Fallan and his colleagues are working, is part of the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas – or the short form in Norwegian “IFIKK”. The department itself is situated at the Campus Blindern, in the Georg Morgenstiernes hus. This 1960s red brick building was renovated a few years ago, so the interior space is quite new and very delightful. At the first day I was kindly welcomed by everybody and I got a working space with two other nice PhD students from art history in the room. Also I received an access card and a room key, to be able to work outside the main working hours or at the weekend. Get a room, card and keys as an external founded PhD student at the LMU in Munich, I have not heard that this has happened. Thus, these small details can demonstrate what kind of appreciation and attention in Norway is given towards scientists, PhD students and guests.

Georg Morgenstiernes hus

All the art historians in the department where very kind and open towards me, especially Kjetil and his PhD students Ingrid, Ida, and Gabriele integrated me so thoughtfully. Also new and remarkable for me was in which way the university is caring for the employees. Every Monday a huge basket with a variant of fruits were delivered. A fully-automatic coffee machine was also free for use. Also home office, part time or parental leave are not extraordinary, in Norway they are already ordinary. Getting a kindergarden place in Norway is not a lottery game, like it is in Munich. So everything gave the impression, that one looks with care after its employees. In comparison to a German higher education institution and the German sciences system, the difference catches the eyes.

In this great atmosphere, it was possible for me to write my chapter about West German industrial designers and their discourses about globalisation. Besides that, I was also able to write a short paper about the special German-German design relations in the Cold War. In comparison to German PhD seminars, the Norwegian procedure is more a text discussion. Thus, this means more writing an article and only giving a brief presentation, followed by a comprehensive discussion. I had the feeling, this procedure has some advantages. Because first, the author has a text, on which s/he can work and e.g. re-write parts to make it better. And second the audience can prepare itself and do not have to listen to over-length presentations. I was very pleased with the seminar and all the questions, comments, and tips I got on my text. Thus, perhaps I can keep working on the text, when I am back in Germany. With some luck, I will find a place to publish these results.

For living, there is a possibility to apply for researcher housing at the student welfare organisation for students in Oslo (SiO). In my case it was a furnished, small room in the Sogn student village, next to the Blindern Campus. It was ok to stay there for two months, but in the end, I cannot recommend it. Because the SiO has housing “quality”, “services” and invoices, which are not in a balanced proportion. Unfortunately the housing market in Oslo is as bad as in Munich. So you need quite a large portion of luck to find something that is fitting, affordable, and not behind the bushes. Beside the fact that the costs of living in Norway are as high as their reputation. In comparison to Munich – which is the most expensive city in Germany – I would guess that you have to spend about 30% more for food and the daily life. So with the German salary for PhD students – which is also low in Germany itself – you really have to live economically and fugally.

The regional office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation is more focused on Sweden. Norway or Oslo are unfortunately not their main focus. But beside this, the Goethe-Institute in Oslo is organising a couple of interesting events in Norway’s capital city. Especially the podium discussions e.g. about the phenomena of populism, held in the Litteraturhuset, was really worth attending. I also can recommend the Opera House, the National Museum and the Vigeland Museum together with the Vigeland Park in Oslo. Trips to Bergen, Kristiansand, and Lillehammer are also good to make by train and a tip in every travel book. Also Stockholm is not so far away, a high-speed train brings you there in less than five hours.

Thus, thanks to Kjetil, Ida, Ingrid, Gabriele, Gustav, Anne Lise, Aron, Ellif, Espen, Heidi, Lars, Lena, Nikita, Panagiotis, Pia, and all other IFIKK-members for great two month in Oslo!

And I wish all of you a great Christmas time and a happy new year!

 

The Design Archives at the University of Brighton

This summer I was able to make a research in the Design Archives at the University of Brighton. After attending the conference on the 50s anniversary of the Design Research Society (see my report), I stayed longer in Brighton to visit the Design Archives.

Photo 30-06-2016, 18 58 33

Brighton pier and the sea

This institution is one of the most important, paper based archives for design history. It was founded in the 1990s and contains of about twenty different archives, which cover aspects of graphic, furniture and industrial design. Financed by the government and private foundations, the archive is collecting different types of documents related to design. And it is not a coincidence that Brighton keeps such a great institution. One hour far away from London at the channel, the University of Brighton is one of the leading institution in Great Britain within the field of the design histories.

Photo 30-06-2016, 09 29 46 (2)

Entrance to the Design Archives at the University of Brighton

As in every other archive, you have to ask for an appointment and as well for a permission, to see contemporary material. Via email or by phone it is easy to contact the very helpful staff of the archives. As a finding aid the archival items are listed in the online hub of UK archives. They store the description from about two hundred institutions in Britain, that keep historical documents. By this service it is quite easy to search and especially prepare your visit at an archive. I am asking myself why isn’t that possible for Germany or whole Europe?

Furthermore in the Design Archives it is allowed for users to take photographical notes from documents. This is not a reproduction, because you have to use your own camera and must cover the document with a plastic foliage with a good visible remark from the Design Archives. But anyway you have a picture of the document, so you can work on it at an later moment back at home. In my point of view it is a very good way to help the user and give security again right abuse for the archive. Again, why isn’t that possible in Germany?

My interest were the files in the ICSID archives, which came in 2007 from the University of Compiègne, where it was held on behalf of ICSID. In these papers I could see how the West German institutions – like the VDID, Rat für Formgebung or the IDZ Berlin – interacted with other industrial designers. And as a special German perspective it came clear to me that the ICSID was also an important battlefield in the Cold War. The delegates from East and West Germany i.e. at the conference 1975 in Moscow hand many discussion about the problems, how was allowed to come with which wording of the own state. Nevertheless this changed, and again Moscow was – in my point of view – the turning point. Because here it was the first time that industrial designer from East and West Germany came together. Keeping on this, I am arguing in my thesis that in the 1980s there was no iron curtain for some parts of the industrial designer at the inner German border anymore.

The Cold War is fortunately over, but parts of its memory are stored in the Design Archives. In Brighton, they do not only „store“ documents, they also conserve them. In an inspiring blog the staff is writing about their doings, so everybody can follow what a great job they do. Beside this a lot of thesis are written with sources from the Design Archives by many PhD students. The most important one for my research field is the project from Tania Messell about the history of the ICSID. I am really looking forward to that publication.

Diese Diashow benötigt JavaScript.

The Design Archives at the University of Brighton also work on different exhibitions, i.e. about the history of the Design Research Society, that was presented parallel to the DRS2016. And it would be totally wrong calling the Design Archives old fashioned. They are open for digital tools on the internet – not like so many archives or museums in Germany. For example the Design Archives make a lot of documents online accessible, as well as many pictures in the VADS database. Furthermore the staff of the archive use a Flickr-account to give their masterpieces a stage on open access. It is also less surprising that the Design Archives use social media like twitter @design_archives to communicate.

Sign to the Design Archives

Sign to the Design Archives

To sum up: Visit to the Design Archives at the University of Brighton, for design historians it is really worth to go there!

„Design – Vorausdenken für den Menschen“ 1984 – Zu Gast bei Verwandten

Die innerdeutsche Mauer war für einen Designaustausch nicht so durchlässig, wie man vordergründig erwarten würde. 1984 kam es zu einer innerdeutschen Primäre: im Kontext des gegenseitigen Kulturaustauschs präsentierte der Rat für Formgebung eine Ausstellung zu westdeutschem Design in Ost-Berlin und später 1985 auf der Leipizger Herbstmesse. Dies war die erste Vorführung von deutschem Design in dem „anderen Deutschland“. Unter dem Titel „Design – Vorausdenken für den Menschen“ kamen ca. 100.000 DDR-Bürger_innen, um sich über industrielles Design aus der Bundesrepublik in der Ausstellungshalle des Internationalen Handelszentrums in (Ost-)Berlin zu informieren. Der Spiegel zitierte dazu halb herablassend halb anerkennend zwei Besucher: „“Da könn‘ unsre noch wat lernen“, meint ein junger Mann im Parka, „det ist nich so piefig.“ Und seine Begleiterin bedauert: „Ankucken könn‘ wa, aba koofen is neese.““

Leipzig Herbstmesse 1985: Staatssekretär Prof. Dr. Martin Kelm eröffnete im Dimitroff-Museum die Design-Ausstellung aus der BRD, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild 183-1985-0903-116, von Waltraud Grubitzsch, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Martin Kelm als Leiter des Ostberliners Amts für industrielle Formgebung der DDR (im Bild am Mikrophon) und der Präsident des westdeutschen Rats für Formgebung Philip Rosenthal (im Bildzentrum mit schwarzem Hemd) sprachen jeweils die einleitenden Worte zu dieser Ausstellung. Rosenthal betonte dabei in seiner Rede, dass trotz unterschiedlicher politischer und wirtschaftlicher Meinungen in beiden Staaten, das AiF und der RfF wegen der Förderung einer guten Form „Alliierte im Design“ seien. In der Tat funktionierte die Zusammenarbeit bei dieser Ausstellung zwischen AiF und RfF reibungslos.

Die Ständige Vertretung der Bundesrepublik in (Ost-)Berlin fasst die Ausstellung in einem Schreiben an das Bundeskanzleramt bzw. Bundesministerium für innerdeutsche Beziehungen wiefolgt zusammen: „Das Interesse an der Ausstellung war groß; sie wuchs sich aber nicht zu einem spektakulären Ereignis aus. Die Präsentation blieb sachlich-unprätentiös und wirkte in keiner Weise protzig oder überheblich. Es ist anzunehmen, dass diese Haltung gerade angesichts des Vorsprungs des Industriedesigns in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland von der DDR genau zur Kenntnis genommen wurde.“

Für die Bundesrepublik war diese Ausstellung ein großer Erfolg der Deutschlandpolitik, für die DDR war es ein gelungener Kulturaustausch. Daher wurde im Gegenzug zu dieser Ausstellung 1988 im Stuttgarter Design-Center die Ausstellung „Design in der DDR“ gezeigt.

Das Allunions-Forschungsinstitut für technische Ästhetik der UdSSR

1962 wurde das Allunions-Forschungsinstitut für technische Ästhetik kurz VNIITE (Всероссийский научно-исследовательский институт технической эстетики kurz ВНИИТЭ) in Moskau gegründet. Unter der Direktion von Juri Solowjew (1920-2013) war das VNIITE für die Gestaltung technischer Produkte in der UdSSR zuständig. Am VNIITE sollten sowohl eigene Designprodukte geschaffen werden, als auch eine technische Ästhetik weiterentwickelt werden. Zugleich vertrat das VNIITE die Sowjetunion im weltweiten Designerdachverband ICISD.

Das VNIITE war ein sogenanntes „Erste Klasse-Institute“, was bedeutete, dass das Institut mit einigen Privilegien ausgestattet war. Beispielsweise war die Bezahlung der VNIITE-Mitarbeiter_innen vergleichsweise hoch. Die Bibliothek des VNIITE konnte ohne Einschränkung Fachliteratur – auch aus dem nicht-sozialistischen Ausland – kaufen. Im Laufe der Zeit war der Bücherbestand so hoch, dass die Informationsabteilung des VNIITE eine Zweigstelle für Design der staatlichen Bibliothek der UdSSR wurde. Parallel dazu war das VNIITE ebenso verantwortlich für die Organisation und Konzeption von Design-Ausstellungen. Die erarbeiteten Ausstellungen wurden nicht nur in der Sowjetunion gezeigt, sondern wanderten ebenso durch Westeuropa. Beispielsweise zeigte 1976 das Design-Center Stuttgart mit „Der sowjetische Designer“ zum ersten Mal eine Ausstellung aus der UdSSR in der Bundesrepublik.

Neben der Bereitstellung und Verbreitung von Designinformationen besaß das VNIITE auch Abteilungen, welche sich mit der konkreten Gestaltungsaufgaben beschäftigten: 1. Technische Güter, 2. Alltagsgegenstände, 3. Verkehrsmittel und später 4. Ergonomie. Gleichzeitig gab es am VNIITE eine Theorieabteilung, in welcher Kunsthistoriker, Historiker, Architekturhistoriker und Methodologen arbeiteten. Hier sollten Grundlagen für ein wissenschaftlich-technisches Vorgehen im Designprozess gelegt werden. Neben sowjetischen Theoretiker bezog man sich ebenso auf ausländische Denker wie John Ruskin, Heinrich Wölfflin, William Morris oder Gottfried Semper.

Neben der Zentrale in Moskau unterhielt das VNIITE noch mehrere Außenstellen in den verschiedenen Teilrepubliken: Baku, Charkow, Jerewan, Kiew, Leningrad, Minsk, Riga, Swerdlowsk, Tallinn, Tbilisi und Vilnius. Diese Dependancen bearbeiteten meist Gestaltungsaufgaben für regionale Industriezweige und waren daher meist auf Sparten der Konsum- und Investitionsgüterbranche spezialisiert, wie die Automobil- oder Schienenverkehr. Eines der erfolgreichsten Produkte war die Straßenbahn KTM-5, die durch das VNIITE gestaltet worden war. Ein weiteres bekanntes Ergebnis war beispielsweise eine Konzeptstudie für ein Taxi von 1964, dass nach neuesten Erkenntnissen der Ergonomie gestaltet worden war, siehe hierzu den Werbefilm:

International besonders in Erscheinung getreten war das VNIITE als Organisator des ICSID-Kongresses von 1975. Zu dem Tagungsthema „Design für den Menschen und die Gesellschaft“ versammelten sich über 1.000 internationale Designer_innen aus Ost und West im Moskauer Hotel „Rossija“ und besprachen 5 Themenkomplexe: „Design und Staat“, „Design und Wissenschaft“, „Design und Arbeit“, „Design für Kinder“ und „Design und Freizeit“. Aus deutscher Perspektive war besonders spannend die Tagungssektion „Design und Staatspolitik“, auf der Juri Solowjew (VNIITE Moskau), François Burkhardt (damals IDZ West-Berlin), Tomás Maldonado (Università di Bologna) und Martin Kelm (damals AIF Ost-Berlin) ihre Argumente austauschten. Zwar stand der ICSID-Kongress 1975 unter dem Zeichen einer Entspannung im Kalten Krieg, ohne einen diplomatischen Skandal lief jedoch auch diese Veranstaltung nicht ab. Die UdSSR verweigerte den ICSID-Delegationen aus Israel, Südafrika, Taiwan und Südkorea die einreise. Daher musste die IX. Generalversammlung des ICSID im Herbst 1975 in Brüssel nachgeholt werden. Aber laut Bericht der DDR-Delegation konnten „provokatorische Ansichten seitens westlicher Vertreter nicht festgestellt werden“.