In our post on the 1984 Hochschule der Künste project/exhibition “Kaufhaus des Ostens” we opined that it represented the moment when Berlin design began to rebel.
The exhibition Schrill Bizarr Brachial. Das Neue Deutsche Design der 80er Jahre currently showing at the Bröhan Museum Berlin places “Kaufhaus des Ostens” is context of the wider German design scene of the period and ably demonstrates that it wasn’t just the Berlin Design scene that was rebelling; from Munich to Düsseldorf, and Frankfurt to Hamburg a generation of young German designers had lost faith in the established design conventions, in the clean, functional world of Bauhaus, Dieter Rams, Hans Gugelot et al and were looking for future beyond industrialised mass production.
In effect opening with Kaufhaus des Ostens and a look at the West Berlin subculture scene of the 1980s Schrill Bizarr Brachial then moves on to to look at the work, and influence, of other important protagonists of the period including Hamburg based collective Möbel perdu, Kunstflug from Düsseldorf and Bellefast from Berlin, in addition to “non-affiliated” designers such as Axel Kufus and Volker Albus.
With obvious parallels to the Milanese Memphis Group and their Italian post-modern compatrioti, the Neue Deutsche Design movement sought to destroy the status quo by making design something that was culturally relevant, something which responded to, reflected, commented on and challenged contemporary society. Which yes sounds like art and as Schrill Bizarr Brachial makes clear Neue Deutsche Design did have an artistic element. While remaining unquestionably a design movement.
A highly accessible and very entertaining exhibition Schrill Bizarr Brachial presents a very nice overview of the Neue Deutsche Design movement and its motives without ever succumbing to the need to appraise or otherwise cast an opinion on the value, quality and indeed sense in the works shown. Such decisions are left freely to be made by the visitor. Which of course is exactly as it should be.
We ended our original Kaufhaus des Ostens post with the conclusion that “Despite its radical nature it’s fair to say Kaufhaus des Ostens didn’t change the world, and German design is still largely marketed as a Dieter Rams’ dream world of crisp, linear forms.”
Schrill Bizarr Brachial beautifully underscores this position, while at the same time making you aware of just how many of the key players from then are still active now: a situation which raises the question as to why the status quo has remained so beautifully intact.
We suspect the answer may lie in the more artistic inclined practitioners of 1980s German progressive culture who can now be found in advertising agencies from Munich to Düsseldorf, and Frankfurt to Hamburg busily convincing us that the established norms are what makes German design the force it is.
We suspect. But obviously can’t prove.
Schrill Bizarr Brachial. Das Neue Deutsche Design der 80er Jahre at the Bröhan Museum Berlin is however worthy testament to a long lost alternative reality.
Full details can be found at www.broehan-museum.de