09
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Exhibition: ‘Stylectrical. On Electro-Design That Makes History’ at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Exhibition dates: 26th August 2011 until 15th January 2012

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Many thankx to the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Apple
Macintosh Classic
1990
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
photo: Roman Raacke

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Apple
20th Anniversary Macintosh
1997
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
photo: Roman Raacke

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Apple
eMate 300
1997
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
photo: Roman Raacke

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Apple
iMac Bondi Blue
1998
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
photo: Roman Raacke

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“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.”

Press release from the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

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Apple
iPod
2001
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
photo: Roman Raacke

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Apple
Power Mac
2003
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
photo: Roman Raacke

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Braun
Television set HF 1
1958
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
photo: Roman Raacke

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Nintendo
Portable game console Gameboy
1995
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
photo: Roman Raacke

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Sony
Walkman TPS-L2
1979
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
photo: Roman Raacke

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Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Steintorplatz, 20099 Hamburg

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 11 am – 6 pm
Wednesday and Thursday 11 am – 9 pm

Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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