Plastic inspired German-German design

Plastic inspired German-German design


A first overall show of German design in Dresden highlights commonalities as well as ruptures.


In Dresden, the exhibition "German Design 1949-1989" is currently showing for the first time an overall show of German design during the period of division, which, according to an FAZ article, brings both to light, commonalities as well as ruptures. According to the curators, the view of German-German design history between 1949 and 1989 has so far been characterized by antagonisms in East and West. The common origins, such as Bauhaus and Deutscher Werkbund, which led to groundbreaking design in both parts of Germany, have been given too little attention.


The exhibition on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of reunification, which was created in cooperation between the Kunstgewerbemuseum der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Museum of Decorative Arts of the Dresden State Art Collections) and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein and can now be seen in Dresden after only a short presentation in Weil due to the pandemic, would make the complex connection clear. Around 400 exhibits show the development of design divided into three phases: the years after the war, the period after the construction of the Wall, and the 1980s, which were marked by protest, crisis, and the search for alternatives in both parts of Germany.


Even if the demands placed on designers would have differed after the Wall was built, there were also many similarities, such as the discovery of plastic with its many possibilities, which inspired many designers. Products considered iconic in both countries bear witness to this in the exhibition, such as cantilever chairs made of polyurethane or modular furniture systems. The folding plastic armchair called "Senftenberger Ei" had been sold by a West German company to the VEB Synthesewerk Schwarzheide, where it was produced for the West German market, as were many other products designed in the GDR. The exhibition in Dresden, which can be seen until January 2, 2022, showed "in a diverse and well-composed way the interconnections, reflections and breaks in German-German design" (FAZ) and is intended to counteract a polarization that still exists today with regard to social distortions and inequalities.


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  • FAZ (10/18/2021)
  • Photo: Egg cup by Josef Boehm, © Deutsches Design-Museum

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