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Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe opens Stylectrical: On Electro-Design that Makes History
The exhibition is the first to show all products that were created since Ive is in charge of design at Apple. Photo: Conrad.

HAMBURG.- The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg is showing the exhibition “Stylectrical – On Electro-Design That Makes History” from 26th August 2011 until 15th January 2012. The exhibition takes a look at the complex process of industrial product design in the context of cultural studies. Once again the Museum is taking up a highly topical and socially relevant subject. The focus is on the design of Jonathan Ive (*1967), Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple, and responsible for creating all of the devices of the California based company. His products are of incomparable popularity on account of their extremely consistent and recognizable design. A quarter of the approximately 400 exhibits are products by Apple, which are shown for the first time in a comprehensive overview. The exhibition traces a retrospective of works as well as of the company's internal development of design, and provides a comprehensive insight into research questions of design history by means of this popular design. Along with the products designed by Jonathan Ive, numerous exhibits from the collection of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg will be shown, among them works by Herbert Hirche, Hans Gugelot, Dieter Rams, Peter Raacke, Michele De Lucchi, Hadi Teherani and Tobias Grau. The economic and environmental significance of design will be examined in cooperation with the red dot institute and the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA).

To give a product its shape goes well beyond Luis Sullivan's often-quoted phrase “form follows function”. Various demands such as material, form, aesthetics, function, handling and usage must be taken into account during the design process and combined. Stylectrical reveals the complex steps and procedures of product design on the basis of the collected works of Jonathan Ive, it thus grants an insight into important discourses on the subject and points to new perspectives on modern design.

The exhibition is the first to show all products that were created since Ive is in charge of design at Apple. Among the exhibits are rarely seen devices such as the eMate300, a laptop from 1997 designed to be used in schools, the iMac Blue Dalmatian, and the company's first flat screen. New products such as the iPhone 4, the MacBook Air, and the iPad 2 will also be shown. The exhibition lets the visitor trace the company’s design process of the past 14 years. Moreover, by means of these innovative products, it opens a discussion on questions of design theory about form, about use of material and about the manufacturing process. One excursus is devoted to the history of the company's product development since its founding, with the intention to highlight the working method and special position of the design team within the company. Exhibits of the designers Hartmut Esslinger and Robert Brunner will be shown in this context, and the so-called “Snow White Design Language” will be discussed.

After the return of company founder Steve Jobs in 1997, Apple was restructured and the young designer Jonathan Ive became Senior Vice President of Industrial Design. Before long, Ive and his team caused a stir with their innovative iMac, the iBook and the Power Macintosh G3, which were all milestones of a modernized electronics design in the late 1990's. Ive's team turned its back on the established, uniform gray beige as a colour for computers of the past decades, and developed a colourful design made of translucent plastics.

Stylectrical shows the formal links between Jonathan Ive’s design and the works of leading creators of electronics’ design history, and it thoroughly addresses the close relation to products of the German company Braun. In this context the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg will be showing some first-rate items from its own comprehensive collection of post-war industrial design. Early works of the designers Hans Gugelot, Herbert Hirche and Dieter Rams, but also works from recent decades by Michele De Lucchi and Tobias Grau will be on display. After the evolution of design in Germany had come to a near halt during the Second World War, there were various attempts in the 1950s to pick up again where the programmatic developments of the Weimar period had left off. The probably most significant initiative was called into life in 1953 by the founders of the Ulm School of Design. Otl Aicher, Inge Aicher-Scholl and Max Bill adopted for this school the approach of the Bauhaus, which had been closed by the National Socialists. When Max Bill left the institution in 1957, the so called “Ulm-Model” took the place of the original concept of the school. It had three relevant criteria: a new and systematic methodology of design, the promotion of interdisciplinary teamwork, and a close cooperation with the industry. Important approaches evolved during this time, which are being pursued to this day. Amongst others, the Ulm school worked for electronics’ manufacturers. The cooperation with the Kronberg-based company Braun is especially relevant; the designers from Ulm developed important guidelines that influenced the design of Braun until the 1990s, when Dieter Rams was the chief designer.

The significance of Jonathan Ive's and his team's ideas for the history of American industrial design, as well as their influence on all industrial products, are another focus of the exhibition. By means of the outstanding example of Apple it is possible to show how consistent design can sustainably determine the image of a company and contribute significantly to its economic success, as well as influence 21st century society and culture.

Video interviews with Mathias Döpfner, Tobias Grau, Guus and Benjamin Gugelot, Thomas Meyerhoffer, Jesko Perrey, Laurenz Schaffer, Paul Smith and Hadi Teherani will open up further exciting perspectives on the topics of the exhibition.

Today's News

August 28, 2011

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe opens Stylectrical: On Electro-Design that Makes History

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