16 January 2019


111/99. Questioning the Modernist Design Vocabulary

Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin

– 13 January 2020




At the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge in Berlin there is a series of four exhibitions on show, the last of which runs until the beginning of next year. These exhibitions demonstrate the connections between the Deutscher Werkbund, founded in 1907, and the Bauhaus, founded in 1919, and also the influences on modernism emanating from the institutions. The first and current part of the series displays commercial graphics that illustrate the developments in design vocabulary at the time.


Both the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhaus did not think exclusively about the design of objects. Rather, they were more concerned with providing an optimal environment for people, which included objects. But to this day it is often only its concept of forms that survives. The first part of the exhibition series will focus on the beginnings of this aesthetic of form. The focus is on the Werkbund Museum in Hagen, founded in 1909 as the Deutsches Museum für Kunst in Handel und Gewerbe looking at the question: “Commercial Design instead of Applied Art?”. This institution contributed to promoting modern design with travelling exhibitions, training courses, and lectures.

The Werkbundarchiv currently houses a newly acquired collection from the former Werkbund Museum – part of the most frequently shown travelling exhibition which displays commercial graphics. Although presenting everyday objects in museums is not ground-breaking today, it was still a rather unusual approach in the days of the Werkbund. Fortunately, the Deutsches Museum für Kunst in Handel und Gewerbe recognised the relevance of this practice early on, so that today the development from Art Nouveau to modernism can be examined using the collected and exhibited advertising material.

“Commerical Design” is on show in the Werkbundarchiv until 11 March 2019, after which the exhibition series will examine the following issues: “Unique Piece or Mass Product?”, “Decoration qua Trespass?”, and “The Dominance of Form?”.


Nº 283
The Power of Design

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