March 19, 2021 - Vitra Design Museum - German Design 1949–1989: Two Countries, One History
e-flux Architecture
March 19, 2021
March 19, 2021

Vitra Design Museum

Daniel Streat/Visual Fields. Illustration. © Vitra Design Museum. Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs, ET 33, 1977. Margarete Jahny and Erich Müller, Rationell, 1970. Hotel tableware. Berliner Mauer am Brandenburger Tor, 1967. © SLUB / Deutsche Fotothek / Borchert, Christian.

German Design 1949–1989: Two Countries, One History
March 20–September 5, 2021

Online opening days: March 19–April 8, panel discussions, interviews, curator-guided tours and film screening
Talk: March 19, 6pm, "Two Countries, One History?" with Marion Ackermann, Olaf Nicolai and Erik Spiekermann, on YouTube

Vitra Design Museum
Charles-Eames-Str. 2
79576 Weil am Rhein
YouTube / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / #VitraDesignMuseum / #VDMGermanDesign

German design was put on the map in the 1920s by the Bauhaus school and the Werkbund association. After the division of Germany in 1949, design and everyday culture, too, went their separate ways on both sides of the border. In the West, design became a driving force in the Wirtschaftswunder, or economic miracle, while in the East it was absorbed into the socialist planned economy. More than thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Vitra Design Museum presents the first panoramic overview of post-war design in the two Germanies. From 20 March to 5 September 2021, the exhibition German Design 1949–1989: Two Countries, One History will offer a comparative selection of design from East and West Germany and explore ideological and aesthetic differences as well as parallels and interrelations between East and West. Exhibits range from iconic pieces of furniture and lamps to graphic, industrial, and interior design to fashions, textiles, and personal ornaments.

Cheap plastic and shrill colours in the East, cool functionalism in the West—the exhibition breaks with simplistic stereotypes and presents a differentiated view. Legendary automobiles like the Trabant (1958) and coveted everyday items like the radio-phono-combo ironically nicknamed Snow White’s Coffin (1956) will be on display alongside new discoveries and rare objects such as Luigi Colani’s sculptural loop chair Poly-COR (1968). The exhibition introduces important figures including Dieter Rams, Egon Eiermann, Rudolf Horn, and Margarete Jahny while also highlighting the role of design schools and the Bauhaus legacy. Its broad panorama of design from the two Germanies illustrates how closely intertwined design and history, everyday culture and world politics were in Germany during the Cold War period.

An exhibition by the Vitra Design Museum, the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and the Wüstenrot Foundation. The exhibition and its international tour are supported by the Federal Foreign Office.

Media contact: Lara Schuh, Head of Communications, T +49 7621 702 3153, communications [​at​]

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive publication with contributions by Paul Betts, Greg Castillo, Petra Eisele, Siegfried Gronert, Jana Scholze, Katharina Pfützner, Eli Rubin, Katrin Schreiter, Oliver Sukrow, Carsten Wolff and others, as well as interviews with Prem Krishnamurthy, Renate Müller, and Dieter Rams. Softcover with flaps, 21.5 x 28 cm, approx. 320 pages; approx. 380 images, order here

Exhibition tour
After opening at the Vitra Design Museum, the exhibition will be presented at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden from 15 October 2021 to 20 February 2022 and will be further available to international venues from spring 2022. The exhibition will travel including all exhibits, contextual films and images, exhibition architecture and all media equipment. 

Contact: Cora Harris, Head of Exhibitions, T +49 7621 702 4036, cora.harris [​at​]

Vitra Design Museum
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