SIG: Support to the GfDg's appeal
Supporters: Design History Society, David Raizman, Bharain Mac an Bhreitiun, Sabine Junginger, Ranulph Glanville, Matt Malpass, Torsten Lange, Greg Castillo, Ben Bos, David Crowley
I am writing in support of the effort to keep the Archive of East German Design on public view rather than place it in storage. The Archive is an important resource for design historians and other scholars interested in German history, especially since the materials it contains have generally not been carefully studied and can contribute a great deal to a better historical understanding of design in culture. Your own work in the field, as well as the exhibition "Cold War Modern" at the Victoria & Albert Museum give some indication of the value of the archive and the material it treats. I write not only as a design historian but on behalf of my College and our students and faculty in Product Design and other fields of applied design.
• DAVID RAIZMAN Professor and Head, Media Arts Department Institutional Representative to the National Association of Schools of Art & Design Westphal College of Media Arts & Design Drexel University Philadelphia
I would be very happy to sign the letter calling on the Haus der Geschichte to save the archive of East German Design. As a frequent visitor to the impressive Zeitgeschichtliches Forum in Leipzig, I can clearly see how the archive fits into the overall mission of the Haus der Geschichte and its activities across Germany. It would be a shame to lose such a valuable resource for international researchers.
• DR. BHARAIN MAC AN BHREITHIUN Senior Lecturer in Design History (Graphic Design) Middlesex University, London
This e-mail is an expression of support for the Archive of East German Design to remain accessible to scholars and the public. The Archive of East German Design presents a unique resource for international scholars to understand the development of design in Germany post-Bauhaus and post HfG Ulm. Its relevance is even greater today, as we are looking into design as a broad activity of human undertaking driven by cultural values and the availability and use of resources. The East German design products document and illustrate how the need for design cannot be stopped by ideologies but rather takes place in spite or because of it. It is therefore imperceivable to me that these artifacts will now be out of sight and deny scholars, practitioners and the general public insights into the world of making that shapes our immediate environments.
I may add that as an internationally working scholar in design, I am surprised to find that while the UK and Denmark have made great efforts over the past decade to build on their design histories and design traditions, Germany with its rich and proud design history is willing to forget about it–or in the least, willing to push it aside. I can attest that German design research is struggling to catch up with international developments. Putting an important source of knowledge and learning around design, change, culture and innovation out of view will only contribute to this development.
For these reasons, I strongly oppose that the entire collection of the Archive of East German Design will be put in permanent storage and I offer my support in whatever form necessary to prevent this.
Thank you for alerting the international design community about this devastating development.
• SABINE JUNGINGER, PhD, Associate Professor, Center for Design, Culture and Management, The School of Design Kolding, Denmark
I would like to lend my support to your campaign to have the Archive of East German Design made properly available to the public by putting it on public exhibition rather than storing it. East German Design is full of surprises and lessons.
• PROF. DR. RANULPH GLANVILLE, ASCF, FRSA, F CybSoc, President, American Society for Cybernetics
I strongly respect your engagements and admire your initiative to stop the collection being but in permanent storage rather making it publicly available to scholars and the general public for education and research.
• DR. MATT MALPASS, Lecturer MA Industrial Design, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London
I express my full support for your appeal to the Haus der Geschichte Bonn to maintain public access to the collection's significant range of primary source material - design objects, archival documents and other visual and printed material.
I have used the collection myself in 2008, and as an architectural historian I recognise the importance not only of preserving such material but also of bringing it to the eye of a wider public in order to foster informed and critical debate about our past. I feel that merely showcasing a select few objects in a general exhibition about 'Everyday Life in the SED Dictatorship' would fail to sufficiently portray the complex history of material culture in the GDR and its intersections with socio-political processes. This can only be done through a dedicated collection open to the public.
Therefore, I wish to sign your open letter to the Haus der Geschichte to keep the Industrial Design Collection open to the public and to establish a centre for education, memory, controversy and new research initiatives. I wish you best of luck for your initiative!
• TORSTEN LANGE, PhD candidate, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
The Design History Society would like to voice its official support for the German Design History Society's campaign to maintain the Archive of East German Industrial Design as a publicly available collection. The Archive is an invaluable resource for design historians and its existence enables scholars and the general public to conduct valuable research into the rich history of industrial design in the GDR. The DHS supports all endeavours that promote scholarship in design history on an international scale and recognises the essential role of the Archive in this.
• DESIGN HISTORY SOCIETY, Dr. Dipti Bhagat, Chair, and Catharine Rossi, Research Grant Officer
My research, as author of "Cold War on the Home Front: The Soft Power of Midcentury Design" (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), has examined the ways in which East German design became both a weapon and (in the case of Mart Stam) a victim of the cold war. The overarching theme of my research has been to stress the importance of consumer design as an artifact of Europe's geopolitical history.
Retaining public access to the Archive of East German Design is not simply an issue of interest to designers and design historians. The increasing recognition of consumer objects as material culture artifacts means that this collection is of crucial importance in understanding the political economy of cold war Germany. (By way of conveying the growing interest in this topic, I have enclosed a recent review of Cold War on the Home Front.)
Please convey my concern about the fate of the Archive of East German design to those who feel it could be put into storage without a negative impact on a German understanding of its divided Cold War past.
• GREG CASTILLO, Associate Professor of Architectural History College of Environmental Design, University of California at Berkeley
DDR graphic heritage
The history of the DDR is an essential element in the annals of the 20th century.
That nation has played an unique role in postwar Europe, with its special position
in between the great political blocks of the continent and consequently also on a global scale.
The DDR rulers had their own ways to control their State and its inhabitants.
This affected the (lack of) freedom for the execution of all professions,
and certainly also those of the votaries of the applied arts.
Graphic Design, in its widest sense, was also in a difficult position with many rules and restrictions.
Many designers have experienced the effects of their suppression.
Yet there were several of them who had great talents and potential, based on their thorough education
in Berlin, Leipzig,Weimar, Dessau and other centers of great design knowledge and tradition.
Graphic design is a perfect instrument 'to write visual history', to reflect how a society functions.
It is the perfect mirror of the time and the everyday environmental situation.
It is, in the interest of true and objective study of DDR culture,
that I plead in all seriousness to fully respect all that is left of the heritage of DDR graphic design,
as an exceptional contribution to the remarkable culture of its time.
Safe the books, publications, posters, packaging items, papers and documents and show them to the public by means of themed presentations!
• BEN BOS, president of the Dutch section of the Alliance Graphique Internationale 1985-2005
I am writing to express my concern that "Haus der Geschichte" of the Federal Republic of Germany has plans to close public access to the Collection of Industrial Design in Berlin.
The scholarship on East German material culture has been of very highly quality in recent years, offering powerful insights into the experience of life in the GDR. The collection allows for a nuanced picture of this period of German C20th history to be drawn. I am a writer and curator who has put East German material culture on display in exhibitions (including one at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2008), and so I appreciate the power of things to capture history. Through this collection, we can better understand the ordinary lives of millions of East Germans and the achievements of individual designers.
I strongly encourage the "Haus der Geschichte" Foundation to reconsider its plans.
• PROF. DAVID CROWLEY
Critical Writing in Art and Design Programme
Royal College of Art