Posts Tagged ‘Zurich’

Exhibitions | Exploring Bally

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Bernard Villemot, 
Bally
– La mappemonde, 1988



Bally – Swiss Shoes Since 1851
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
14 March > 11 August 2019



Thomas Cugini,
fashion photography
SS 1970, 1970



In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay conquered Everest in Bally boots. Synonymous with functionality, modernity and refined design, Bally’s finely-crafted, high-traction hiking boot is now commonly seen walking city streets.

The international luxury goods brand was founded as a shoe manufacturer in a small Swiss village in 1851. Now based in Milan, but still with shoes at its core, Bally creates two new collections per year that include women’s and men’s bags and accessories, as well as women’s ready-to-wear fashion. Championing exploration, discovery, and sport, its expanding range includes military and sports shoes.

Bally ski boot, 1930s



Pioneering from the beginning: despite resistance from the local shoemakers’ guild, Carl Franz Bally organised his company’s shoe production along industrial lines. He was a progressive employer, who, with remarkable foresight realised that his factory workers would be happier (and healthier) with comfortable conditions and access to decent food. The canteen Bally established for them in 1879, was replaced in 1915 by The Kosthaus. Set in parkland, it was an early commission for Karl Moser, who would later be hailed as one of the fathers of Swiss modernism. It included a large dining room, rooms that could be rented and showers for use by Bally employees, who nicknamed it the Parkhotel.

The Subtle Art of
Shoe Caring,
Bally booklet, 2014



Bernard Villemot,
Bally, 1979



Bally opened its first shop in Geneva in the early 1870s. One in Buenos Aires soon followed, as well as others in Paris and London. More recently, in the 1980s, Bally was one of the first to establish an outlet in post-reform China. Its forward-thinking and modern aesthetic – reflected strongly in its graphics, as well as in its shop interiors – has continued to play a key role in its development and in the way the company presents itself. Its London flagship store was designed by David Chipperfield Architects in 2014.

Bally, Scribe
campaign,
AW 2018
Photo Maurizio
Bavutti, 2018


In addition to many examples of advertising and print material, Bally – Swiss Shoes Since 1851 at Museum für Gestaltung Zürich presents a cross-section of the whole range of Bally shoes from different eras. It will start out by featuring pieces from the spring/summer 2019 collections and later update the display with others from the new autumn/winter collection.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich © Bally Schuhfabriken AG


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being made available to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Exhibitions | Building on 3D Lettering

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

Terracotta lettering
facade, for Hackney
Empire Theatre, London,
UK, by Tim Ronalds
Architects
with Richard
Ho
llis
, 2004

© Hélène Binet



3D Lettering on Buildings
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
7 December 2018 > 14 April 2019



Superbüro’s oak
floor number for the
new building at
Neue Volksschule
Brünnen, Bern-West,
Switzerland, by Ernst
Gerber Architekten

and Urech Architekten,
2015 > 2016

© Superbüro



This is how a random bunch of international, commercial businesses enthusiastically advertise the attractions of 3D signage on buildings:

‘3D letters give building signs depth and impact… A 3D lettering sign gives a building a sense of permanence… 3D signage catches the eye by standing out… 3D signs are a great way to add depth and texture to your signage… 3D lettering and 3D logos add an element of sophistication and individuality to your business… If you’d like your 3D signage to stand out, even more, we offer face-lit and reverse-lit lighting options… 3D building signs are a fantastic and great-looking way to brand your building… 3D signs provide that extra visual connection with a building’s occupants… 3D signage can help your business stand out from the crowd… 3D signs give a professional and high-class look… 3D signs can be static or illuminated to help create a modern professional look for your building, reception area or store… 3D signage looks great on monument signs or also on a building… Our eye-catching 3D building lettering will guarantee your signage and brand stands out from the crowd… 3D signs are ideal for commercial building signage, as attention-grabbing retail signs or for creating a strong brand identity in your office reception signage…’

In contrast, the dead-pan title of the forthcoming show, 3D Lettering on Buildings, may sound uninspiring. However, the Swiss are masters of the understatement; what at first sight appear to be low-key exhibitions turn out to be – much like the subject matter of this one – hugely impactful as well as fascinating and informative.

Lochergut, illuminated
lettering sculpture
by Olaf Nicolai on
the Grand Café
Lochergut building,
Zürich, Switzerland,
2006, (modified, 2016),
by Pool Architekten

© Marcel Meury



Detail of Vai com
Deus
(sayings about
God) in applied
relief for a chapel
converted into a gallery
in Lisbon, Portugal,
by R2 Design, 2008

© R2 Design



Detail of biogas
station facade panels
made of Nabasco, in
Dinteloord, Netherlands,
by Studio Marco
Vermeulen
, 2013

© Ronald Tilleman



Although the title gives no clue, the 24 international examples included – all produced during the past twenty years – relate to specific architecture and its surroundings, and are the result of architects and artists, working together in interdisciplinary teams to create bespoke 3D lettering for buildings. For example, Beat Keusch Visuelle Kommunikation collaborated with architects Herzog & de Meuron on signage for Basel’s REHAB Centre for Spinal Cord and Brain Injuries. Respected British designer, teacher and author Richard Hollis worked closely with Tim Ronalds Architects, who undertook the restoration of the Hackney Empire in London, devising giant terracotta letters for its façade. Meanwhile, Pool Architekten asked the German conceptual artist, Olaf Nicolai, to construct a unique 3D light sculpture for the Grand Café Lochergut building in Zürich.

Facade lettering by
Beat Keusch Visuelle
Kommunikation
,
on the new REHAB
building, Basel,
Switzerland, by Herzog
& de Meuron
, 2007

© BKVK



While acknowledging the obvious fact that 3D signage, in the form of recessed inscriptions and bronze letters has been around since ancient times, the exhibition’s organisers demonstrate that new production techniques such as 3D printing and 3D milling, as well as new ways of using conventional processes and materials, are being combined and experimented with to produce signage that fulfils all of the promises made by the commercial businesses, above, with a more thoughtful approach that is pushing hard against creative boundaries.

As well as architectural photographs, some of which we show here, 3D Lettering on Buildings at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich features a range of scale models, prototypes, documents and films illustrating the creative, manufacturing and installation process.

Photos courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich


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Design | Swiss Paris

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Adrian Frutiger
Type study OCR B,
c 1963



Les Suisses de Paris
Grafik und Typografie
Museum für Gestaltung
Zürich | Switzerland
4 November 2016 > 19 March 2017



André Baldinger,
Eiffel-Level 2
Font family, 2005 > 2009

© André Baldinger



Jean Widmer /
Visuel Design
Centre Georges
Pompidou
logo
proof, 1977



In contrast to Switzerland, where an older generation of designers and typographers dominated the limited market, Paris offered a warm welcome to the influx of young Swiss designers who went there to find work in the 1950s. Resting on its diminishing reputation as a centre for the artistic avant garde, in terms of current trends, the city’s home-grown designers lagged a long way behind their Swiss neighbours, many of whom had adopted the elementary principles of Swiss or international style, but whose work also soon reflected the emerging visual art styles of Op art and Pop, who drew influences from iconoclastic French new wave / Nouvelle vague cinema ideas, as well as from America.

Jean Widmer
Galeries Lafayette,
unpublished
advertising, 1959



Friedrich Schrag
(art director),
Irving Penn
(photographer).

Adam magazine
cover, 1961



During 1950, 60s and 70s many Swiss designers would become established in Paris and come to occupy key positions within the French design industry. Among them, and one of the first to arrive, Jean Widmer came to study then got a job in an advertising agency. Becoming art director at the department store Galeries Lafayette in 1959 he introduced the innovative idea, picked up on a trip to New York, of entertaining the store’s shoppers rather than just selling to them. Moving to the fashion magazine Jardin des Modes, where he began to playfully mix photographic images and typography Widmer became involved in a competition with fellow-Swiss Peter Knapp (Knapp, incidentally, among other things, re-drew the Galleries Lafayette logo, and, revolutionised French television), who was at Elle in Paris, as well as with Henry Wolf at Harper’s Bazaar in New York. ‘It was very stimulating, he told Eye magazine in 1999, ‘you knew all the others were doing interesting things so you really had to prove yourself.’ By the late 60s, Widmer had adopted a simpler, more rational approach, which led to him producing tourism pictograms in the 1970s, and French motorways signs in 1978. In 1977, his company Visuel Design were responsible for the Centre Georges Pompidou logo.


Fred Rawyler,
Fashion show
invitation
for Indreco,
Summer 1967



Of the more recent Swiss designers to take up residence in Paris, André Baldinger, now a renowned designer, typographer and art educator, went there in 1995. His many accolades include the AB Eiffel font for the Eiffel Tower signage project. For forty years Bruno Suter divided his time between Lucerne and Paris, working for luxury brand clients such Hermès, Lanvin, Galéries Lafayette, as well as for Benetton. Fred Rawyler is probably best-known for his Hermés headscarf designs, while Adam men’s magazine art director, Friedrich Schrag commissioned prominent international photographers such as Irving Penn to produce covers.

Adrian Frutiger’s career had taken off in Paris when he moved there the same year as Jean Widmer and became artistic director of the type foundry Deberny & Peignot. In 1961 with 10 years successful work behind him, during which he developed his font family Univers – an immediate, global success – he left and opened a graphics studio with two partners outside Paris, that produced typefaces and created logos and corporate identities. In France, Frutiger designed lettering systems for Paris’s Orly airport and for the Paris Metro as well as a new information system for the Charles de Gaulle air terminal, while he was also commissioned to create fonts and signage for the Swiss highways. From 1963 to 1981, Frutiger was responsible for the design and adaptation of typewriter and composer fonts at the IBM World Fair and his computer type OCR B became a worldwide standard in 1973.

Les Suisses de Paris, Grafik und Typografie, at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich presents the work of 20 Swiss protagonists from the period.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
All images from the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich Plakatsammlung, except André Baldinger, Eiffel-Level 2


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Photography | A Surreality Check

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Man Ray, Rayograph (Spiral), 1923
Photogram on silver gelatin paper
© Man Ray Trust / 2015, ProLitteris, Zurich



Real Surreal
− Masterpieces of Avant-Garde Photography
The New Look 1920 > 1950
Museum Bellerive
Zürich | Switzerland
1 April  > 24 July 2016



František Drtikol, Circular segment (Arc), 1928
Pigment print
© František Drtikol-heirs, 2015



So familiar are we with the classic artworks of the surrealist era – lobster telephones, bowler-hatted men with apples floating in front of their faces, and fur cups and saucers – that with a little dexterity, we can easily create entertaining images inspired by them ourselves on our computers or tablets and even on our phones. But, perhaps we’ve allowed our idea of what surrealism was, or indeed is, to be confined to just a few stereotypes, while the thinking on which surrealism was founded provided a point of departure for infinitely diverse imagery.

As World War I raged, the Dada movement threw out all the established conventions of what constituted art. Forming in their wake, the surrealists – originally a literary movement established in 1924 that would, after initial reluctance, welcome painters, then photographers – found new inspiration in founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud’s theories about the unconscious and the interpretation of dreams. Taking Freud’s fundamental rule that his patients must be absolutely honest, and never leave anything out, even if it is unpleasant to expose, together with his interest in the internal mental conflicts that kept experiences buried deep within the mind, as the basis for their explorations they would produce art that was unfettered by rules and conformed to no previously-established formulae.

Grete Stern, The Eternal Eye, 1950
Photomontage on silver gelatin paper
© Estate of Grete Stern
Courtesy Galeria Jorge Mara,
La Ruche, Buenos Aires, 2015



Genia Rubin, Lisa Fonssagrives.
Dress: Alix (Grés)
, 1937

Print on silver gelatin paper
© Sheherazade Ter-Abramoff, Paris



Innovative technical developments that emerged in photography at the time rendered the medium far more accessible, allowing the surrealist photographers to be prolific and move rapidly from one experiment to the next. Man Ray would contrive new ways of looking at and presenting subject matter and invented innovative dark room techniques such as solarisation that allowed him to produce prints that were like nothing that had been seen before. He experimented with multiple exposures and produced photograms in the darkroom without a camera.

Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy also produced radical surrealist photography, and there is a long list of photographers including Eugène Atget, Herbert Bayer, Hans Bellmer, Brassaï, Florence Henri, Germaine Krull, Herbert List, August Sander and Umbo, among others, some of whom were associated with the movement from its early days, and others who produced surrealist photographs afterwards and right up into the 1950s, each of whom interpreted surrealism from their own individual viewpoint. Real Surreal is an exhibition of the extraordinary work of these photographers, among which certain stylistic approaches to mood, lighting and sometimes propping was common, and form a discernible link, but that bristles with unparalleled innovation in terms of ideas that combine to form the influential and enduring legacy of the movement.

Albert Renger-Patzsch, Self-portrait, 1926/27
Print on silver gelatin paper
© Albert Renger Patzsch Archiv /
Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Köln / 2015,
ProLitteris, Zurich



From the 1960s up until his death in 1991, the French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, who had first-hand inspiration from Man Ray himself, produced powerful, often shocking and incredibly stylish images, borne out of a surrealist mindset, without ever falling into the trap of aping his hero’s work.

It’s apparent in the work of contemporary fine art photographers such as Cindy Sherman, who approaches her compelling self-portraits from a standpoint which asserts that identity lies in appearance, not in reality, that it remains possible to create work from a unique surrealist perspective. Younger photographers, too, like Amsterdam-based Viviane Sassen, who, having looked hard at the original surrealist imagery then put it to one side, are creating fresh and intense, original work – the stuff that dreams are made of.

Previously shown at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany, Real Surreal − Masterpieces of Avant-Garde Photography is showing around 220 works from The Dietmar Siegert Collection.

Related event
Neues Sehen Photographs of
the 1920 and 1930s
from the
Ann und Jürgen Wilde Collection

Pinakothek der Moderne
Munich | Germany
Until 30 September 2016

All images courtesy Museum Bellerive


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Exhibitions | Honnegger’s Concrete Rugs

Friday, August 14th, 2015

H 12, 2005
Hand tufted rug



Gottfried Honegger
– Teppich Konkret / Concrete Rugs
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
26 August > 1 November 2015



H 27, 2005
Hand tufted rug



Not to be confused with the subject of our previous post, Concrete Buildings – What’s Not to Love Now? – the rugs in this exhibition are certainly not made of concrete. To be clear, the term ‘concrete art’ was first introduced in 1930 by De Stijl founder, Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg (1883 > 1931) in his Manifesto of Concrete Art, published in the first and only issue of the magazine Art Concret. While the members of De Stijl envisioned the ideal fusion of form and function, in his manifesto van Doesburg maintained that there was nothing more concrete or more real than a line, a colour, or a plane (a flat area of colour). Gottfried Honegger, aged 97, whose rugs embody the spirit of concrete art as well as those of De Stijl, is a leading artist with a major retrospective on show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris until 14 September, 2015.

It’s fitting that the Honigger’s rug exhibition is being shown in Switzerland, not just because Honegger is Swiss, but because another Swiss artist, former Bauhaus student Max Bill (1908 > 1994), who took up the concrete art (aka concrete-constructivist art) baton, organised the first international exhibition of work by the movement in Basle, in 1944. Bill stated that the aim of concrete art is to create ‘in a visible and tangible form, things which did not previously exist – to represent abstract thoughts in a sensuous and tangible form’. Some years later, Gottfried Honegger would go one stage further, declaring that the primary purpose of art is to change the world. There is a museum of concrete art in Zürich. Somewhat less well known than the great Bill, Gottfried Honneger (aka Gottfried Honegger-Lavater) is nevertheless a prominent figure in the story of concrete art.

H13, 2005
Hand tufted rug



During a sojourn in Paris in 1939, he produced a few landscape paintings and some portraits in a cubist style, but the outbreak of war meant he returned to Switzerland, where he created little more that might be called fine art until 1949. He studied window-dressing at the Zurich Kunstgewerbeschule and afterwards became a very successful graphic designer. From 1955 to 1958 he was art director of the Basel-based pharmaceuticals company Geigy, which, as well as being involved in pioneering drugs research, had an in-house packaging and publicity design department. The cutting edge work produced at Geigy was crucial to the development of the globally-influential Swiss Style in graphic design.

On a trip to New York in 1958, where he met several abstract expressionist painters, Honegger decided to become an artist himself, and stayed there. His first exhibition, in which he showed monochrome paintings on surfaces covered by a repetitive pattern of geometric elements in thin card, was held in the city. Relocating to Paris in 1961, he would concentrate on painting, exploring circles and squares, and by 1968 had begun to produce sculpture. One of the first artists based in France to be inspired by the possibilities opened up by computers, in 1970, he produced computer-aided low relief works. His multi-panel paintings with cut-out sections that involve the wall behind in the work, were executed in the 1980s.

H18, 2005 (detail)
Hand tufted rug



In 1990, Honegger and his wife Sybil Albers were instrumental in setting up l’Espace de l’Art Concret, at Mouans-Sartoux, close to Mougins, in the South of France, a museum dedicated to concrete art. Ten years later they donated their personal collections of over 550 works by avant-garde and abstract artists to the French state, with the proviso that they are kept on permanent exhibition in a purpose-built building, designed by Swiss architects, Gigon and Guyer.

The 1990s saw his relief works, freed from the flat plane, transform into sculptures in painted metal, and in 1999, Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) a retrospective of Honegger’s painting and sculpture work was shown at Jean Nouvel-designed Fondation Cartier in Paris – itself a fusion of design and form in steel and glass. Honegger’s more recent work, the Pliages is in the form of white cylinders with foldout cut-away sections.

The rugs on display in the forthcoming Gottfried Honegger – Teppich Konkret exhibition in the Schaudepot at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, are a natural extension of the artist’s relief pieces, simply executed in another medium.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
All rugs by Gottfried Honegger © Tisca Tiara


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Design | Forgotten Swiss Lamm that Roared in Italy

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Fashion 1960, for professional travellers, la Rinascente, 1960
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



Lora Lamm – La vita è bella
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
Until 16 August 2015



The garden – the house in the country – the city terrace, la Rinascente, 1956
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



The celebrated department store chain, La Rinascente, founded in 1917, (in Thai ownership since 2011) remains little known outside of Italy. With the exception of Switzerland, the same can be said of Swiss polymath designer / illustrator / art director, Lora Lamm.

La Rinascente was one of a number of innovative companies, including the tyre manufacturer, Pirelli, that during the post-war period latched on to the idea – pioneered by Olivetti – of establishing in-house advertising and PR departments that would develop a rapport with a new breed of designers with whom they collaborated to produce highly-creative advertising and promotional material.

Lamm, though often previously overlooked – she doesn’t rate a Wikipedia entry – whose work was synonymous with La Rinascente’s success during the period, was a major contributor to Italian design in the 1950s and 1960s. This month, in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of Swiss design both nationally and internationally, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture has awarded her the annual Grand Prix Design Award 2015.

Sales, 1957
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



Fashion spread, la Rinascente, c 1960
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



Roles, Pirelli, 1961
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



Lamm (b 1928), studied graphic design from 1946 to 1951 in Zürich under, among others, the former Bauhaus master Johannes Itten, and was afterwards drawn to flourishing Milan, which was enjoying an economic boom. After gaining a foothold at Studio Boggeri, where well-regarded Swiss designers were already working, she later moved to Panettone Motta Milano as a packaging designer. In 1954, on the recommendation of the Swiss graphic designer Max Huber, who was already an established designer at La Rinascente – he had designed their logo – Lamm was taken on by the company, where she was soon made responsible for the design and production of the store’s in-house magazine, Cronache.

Inspired by the latest graphics produced for international department stores in New York and Tokyo that she mixed freely with the rational, modernist influences she brought from Switzerland, Lamm rapidly imposed her own design vision that served the management’s purpose of attracting female clientele to La Rinascente.

Schools department, la Rinascente, 1958
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



After Huber left the store in 1958, Lamm was put in sole charge of the creative department, producing the company’s catalogues, posters, advertisements, invitations, mailers, packaging and other publicity, but still found time to carry out freelance work for Pirelli, Elizabeth Arden and Olivetti.

The light, positive feelings embodied in her work for the store characterised by illustrations of charming, child-like simplicity, and by fluid and elegant typography, was carried through to her posters for Pirelli. Here she juxtaposed whimsical illustration against perfectly-drawn black, scraper-board images of tyres, and often used photography.

In 1963, Lamm returned to Zürich, where she still lives and continues to work.

Lora Lamm – La vita è bella, currently showing at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich’s Schaudepot is an exhibition concerned almost exclusively with the designer’s poster work. A limited selection of original Lora Lamm poster designs is available to buy via the Swiss gallery, Artifiche.

All posters designed by Lora Lamm, © the artist, courtesy of Museum für Gestaltung Zürich



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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Design | Swiss Design Bank

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Blattmann Metallwarenfabrik AG, MEWA, Kettle TECA, 1949 /
Alfred Roth, Aluminium Chair, 1933 / Wilhelm Kienzle, Cactus Watering Can
Photo FX Jaggy + U Romito


100 Years of Swiss Design
Museum für Gestaltung – Schaudepot
Zürich | Switzerland
27th September 2014 > 8th February 2015


It’s somehow unsurprising to find that, safe in its vaults, Switzerland has the largest collection of Swiss design in the world. While the vast majority of the 800 items in 100 Years of Swiss Design, a new exhibition opening this month at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, are drawn from the bank of 500,000 pieces the museum has built up over its 140-year history, a few items are on loan from elsewhere.

This exhibition will be the first at the Schaudepot (Open Collections) – in the New Toni-Areal, a recently converted former milk processing plant – where the museum’s poster, design, applied arts and graphics archives – previously distributed in separate locations around the Zürich – have come together under one roof. But it’s not only the location which is new. With a total of 26% additional space, the core of the assembled archive is a free-standing, high bay, storage facility – a six-metre-high shelving system – housing chairs, lamps, posters, cupboards and ceramics, which is being opened to the public for daily tours on specific themes, and where they can examine items in the collection at close quarters, for the first time. The museum’s globally-important assets have also been made accessible via the eMuseum site, where the pictures in the database are reproduced as a digital catalogue, exclusively illustrating the collection stock – and the service has been made available free of charge.

While Switzerland is renowned as an expensive country to visit, until the end of September when prices are set to rise, the adult entrance fee at the Museum is only 12 Swiss Francs (CHF) / just under £8, and an annual pass is available for 50 CHF / £33, which is a pretty good deal. There’s no entry fee for children under 12 years.


Sigg AG, Hot Water Bottle with Stopper 1925 + 1968
Photo FX Jaggy + U Romito

Willy Guhl, Beach Chair, 1954
Photo FX Jaggy

Oskar Zieta, Plopp, 2007 / Frédéric Dedelley, Melancholic Diamond, 2007
Photo U Romito

Wisa-Gloria AG, Three Wheeler, 1970,
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Design Collection

Photo FX Jaggy + U Romito


In 1949, the multi-talented Swiss architect, artist, painter, typeface designer, industrial designer and graphic designer, who at one time, served on the Zürich City Council, and was later elected to the Swiss National Parliament, Max Bill (1908 > 1994), singled out the Feller company’s light switch, ubiquitous throughout Switzerland, as ‘perhaps the ultimate form for a light switch.’ An image of the switch is being used on the publicity material for the exhibition, overlaid by a photograph of Willy Guhl’s classic Beach chair, for Eternit, 1954. Manufactured by companies like Therma, Embru, Langenthal, Horgen-Glarus, Sigg and Mammut, many more examples of often everyday products, typifying the high quality, functionality and charm of Swiss design, such as Hans Coray’s Landi chair and the USM Haller system are included in the 100 Years of Swiss Design exhibition.

Swiss book design is also one of country’s greatest assets, and later this month, or in early October (German edition. English language edition, probably December) the inimitable Lars Müller Publishers are bringing out 100 Years of Swiss Design, edited by the Müseum für Gestaltung Zürich, Christian Brändle, Renate Menzi and Arthur Rüegg. With 700 pictures and featuring 100 key works from the Museum’s collection, it presents the cream of the country’s design in chronological order – from their regional roots, at the beginning of the 20th century, to those dreamed up and produced for today’s global market. Also from Lars Müller Publishers, 100 Years of Swiss Graphic Design, a companion to the above, is already out in Europe (German and English editions), and will be available in the US and Canada at the end of September, 2014.


Heller drittel, Max Bill,1959 > 69
Auction estimate CHF 25,000 > 30,000 / £16,500 > 20,000


Max Bill, who was a student at the Bauhaus in Dessau between (1927 > 1928) worked closely with masters Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy- Nagy and Oskar Schlemmer, as well as his fellow Swiss, Paul Klee. Eminently bankable, his paintings and sculptures are well-represented in Christie’s 30th Swiss Art Auction in Zürich on September 22nd. It was László Moholy-Nagy, who had introduced Bill to the work of the De Stijl group, especially that of Mondrian, whom Bill visited in Paris, but the work of other De Stijl members, Georges Vantongerloo and Theo Doesburg were to make a greater impression upon him. Similarly based on geometric composition, Fritz Glarner, whose work is also included in the sale, owes much to influences drawn from De Stijl.

All products illustrated, except Will Guhl Beach Chair, from Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Design Collection. All photos © ZHdK.
Painting image courtesy of Christie’s


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Architecture | Going Underground

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Customer bank vault Julius Bär, Zürich, Switzerland.
Interior by Swiss graphic designer, Gérard Miedinger, 1983

Photo Christian Zingg, 2013. © Julius Bär Art Collection





Underground – The Spectacle of the Invisible
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Museum of Design Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
Until 28th September 2014





Main building of the Ewha Woman’s University, Seoul. Dominique Perrault, 2008
Photo André Morin, 2008. © André Morin / DPA / Adagp





Secrecy, worship, economic necessity, shelter, curiosity, getting from one place to another – even just for fun: some of the reasons why for thousands of years humans have chosen to delve into the depths of the earth, and to enter, create, or taylor underground spaces to suit their own requirements.

The excitement of travel and having fun may well have been in the minds of those driving through Switzerland’s Gotthard Alpine road tunnel / Gotthard Strassentunnel, on that fateful day in 2001, when fire turned it into an inferno and 128 people perished. On a somewhat happier note, on 14th October, 2010, the last of the 33 miners trapped deep underground in northern Chile for more than two months was rescued. Meanwhile, the Gotthard Base Tunnel / Gotthard-Basistunnel, 57km in route length, but with a total of 151.84 km of tunnels, shafts and passages, surpassing Japan’s Seikan Tunnel will be the world’s longest rail tunnel, when it opens in 2016.





Hotel Therme Vals, Switzerland. Peter Zumthor, 1996
Photo Hélène Binet, 2006. © Gabrielle Ammann, Ammann gallery / Cologne

Reservoir Ibruch, Zumikon, Switzerland, (Finished 1967),
from the Series Geflutete Kathe-dralen, Silvio Maraini, 2011

© With the photographer





In the short period since the start of the new millennium the volume of all tunnel and shaft constructions in Switzerland has practically doubled. The new exhibition Underground – The Spectacle of the Invisible, at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, a reaction to this national phenomenon, beckons us forth and asks us to consider the subject of man-made tunnels and spaces from a global perspective, and as a single entity that amounts to far more than the sum of its water reservoirs, stations, bunkers, cold stores and basement clubs. The organisers also encourage us to ponder whether underground constructions, lacking external appearance, count as a buildings? Coal mines, underground transit systems, tunnels that cut under mountains and seas linking one country to another: all in a sense negative spaces with no mass – they enclose space, but their skins are invisible – stand in evidence to their creation as often incredible engineering feats, but should they be considered as architecture?





Trainstation Stadelhofen, Zurich. Santiago Calatrava, 1990.
Photo: Paolo Rosselli (1991), © with the photographer





In the condensed modern city, where outside space is ever more precious and limited, developers, having in the past concentrated almost exclusively on the vertical, are now exploring the possibilities afforded from pushing downwards, to the extent that permanent independent subterranean habitats are being created deep within the earth. So are we, in a since, albeit at much grander scale, returning to the ancients roots of human habitation? Munich’s Kunstbau gallery, an early, 20th century example in neighbouring Germany, part of the famous Lenbachaus, is entirely underground – entrance is via the Königsplatz subway station. Inaugurated in 1994 with a site-specific light installation by Dan Flavin, it can be seen as a direct descendant of caves such as Lascaux, the walls of which our stone-age ancestors so beautifully painted with images of the beasts they hunted on the surface above.





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Design | Japanese Posters in Situ

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Mitsuo Katsui
Air – I’m here,
1993



Japanese Poster Artists
– Cherry Blossom and Asceticism
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
12 February > 25 May 2014

One of my most treasured books is Japanese Graphic Design by Richard S Thornton (Laurence King Publishing, 1991). Delving deep into the country’s complex cultural history and traditions, it puts the entire subject – of which Japanese poster design is an extremely important ingredient – into clear historical perspective. But graphic works shown in books are one thing: seeing them, and especially posters – which ideally should to be viewed at full size to be properly appreciated – is an entirely different and sometimes surprising experience.

Having looked at some of them on the the Designboom website, on a recent trip into central London I made a wide detour to take in the OSPAAAL (Organisation in Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia and Latin America) Posters Show of Cuban posters at the Kemistry Gallery, near Old Street, which specialises in graphic design-related exhibitions, and which I hadn’t previously visited. Entering, I found myself in a space not much larger than a double garage, albeit with a higher ceiling. I had expected the bold, colourful, politically-charged designs to hit me like a series of sledgehammers, but, equally-spaced on three walls, all in the same odd, elongated vertical format, the diminutive framed posters sang out like brilliant stained glass windows in a small side chapel, their power uncompromised by their compact dimensions. I had thought that perhaps, at the time of their production, paper was in short supply in Cuba, however the small poster format derives from their being folded magazine inserts in Tricontinental, OSPAAAL’s quarterly publication. The experience taught me something about the importance of context and strengthened my view that making the effort to see posters (and all art) in the flesh, rather than simply evaluating them at reduced size in books, magazines or on internet sites (as here), is infinitely more rewarding. As Ernest Hemingway wrote ‘it’s very hard to get anything true on anything you haven’t seen yourself’.

Shigeo Fukuda
Victory 1945, 1975

Draft Co Ltd
Une nana cool, 2002

Ken Miki / Shigeyuki Sakaida
Snow – Hokusetu Snow Mountain, c 2002


Dedicated poster museums are few and far between. There isn’t one in the UK. There’s the London Transport Underground collection at the London Transport Museum, and the collection at the V&A. (A poster which I designed with Phil Carter in 1979 for the RCA Automotive Design degree show is amongst this collection, but, for whatever reason, and despite my enquiries, no image is available on the museum’s website).

Abroad, it’s better. In New York City, you can visit Postermuseum.com – an actual gallery, as opposed to the virtual one the name suggests – established in Manhattan in 1973, which with 100,000 unique posters from 1870 to the present, claims to be the largest vintage poster gallery in the world. The Dutch Poster Museum at Hoorn, in the Netherlands, opened in 2003 and has around four different exhibitions per year. Founded in 1968, in 1999 the Musée de l’Affiche, renamed Musée de la Publicité, with a collection of 50,000 posters, was installed in permanent exhibition rooms designed by Jean Nouvel at Les Arts Décoratifs, rue de Rivoli, Paris. The Wilanów Poster Museum, a branch of the National Museum, is the world’s oldest, and hosts the Warsaw Poster Biennale, established in 1966. (Another of my posters, designed in 1977 for The New Contemporaries Exhibition at London’s ICA was accepted for the 1978 Biennale). There’s also the Ogaki Poster Museum in Japan, and the collection at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, in Zürich, Switzerland, where the forthcoming show happens to be Japanese Poster Artists – Cherry Blossom and Asceticism. Here, contemporary posters and works by three ‘old masters’, Shigeo Fukuda, Kazumasa Nagai and Ikko Tanaka – all of whom feature in the aforementioned Richard S Thornton book – plus work by the renowned Tadanori Yokoo are amongst the 300 examples on show, covering the period from 1950 to the present.

Tadanori Yokoo
Japanese Culture
– The Fifty Post-War Years
1945-1995
, 1995


Rikako Nagashima
Be noisy. Laforet, 2012


The selected period is particularly apposite. While early Japanese posters were contiguous with traditional wood-block prints and were often hand-painted on paper, once lithography was introduced, posters in Japan began to resemble or mimic those of Europe and America. And when modernism swept though the country and took hold in most areas of design, commercial poster designers followed suit. However, when the rubble was cleared after World War II, a re-evaluation was made of traditional Japanese design principles. This was especially apparent in relation to poster design, where the commercial aspects began to be toned down, and the medium became the domain of artists. These printmakers, fused modern reproduction processes with Japanese craft techiques, and an intuitive sense of composition, to produce iconic printed creations that have earned their place in galleries.

I also own a copy of the book 100 Posters of Tadanori Yokoo by Koichi Tanikawa (Big O Publishing, 1978) which has an introduction by US design legend Milton Glaser. Its format is just under A3 (297 x 420 mm), which means that although Yokoo’s posters, typically 728 x 103 mm, were far bigger, at least one gets some feeling of their scale.

Japan – Nippon, with 122 pages and 120 illustrations, a preface by Bettina Richter, and an essay by Kiyonori Muroga is published with German and English text by the much-respected Lars Müller Publishers at CHF 35 / £24.00 / $40, to accompany the Museum für Gestaltung’s exhibition. It will undoubtably be a beautifully presented book, but the miniscule 165 x 24 mm format will demand a considerable feat of imagination from anyone who does not visit the exhibition, to understand how the posters were intended to be seen.

All posters courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich Poster Collection


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Design | Vintage 2013

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Vintage – Design with a History
Museum für Gestaltung
Zürich, Switzerland
13th November, 2013 – 6th April, 2014

East London, the area formerly known as East Berlin, and New York’s Lower East Side, have far more in common than their location in the eastern precincts of capital cities. Undoubtedly there are areas, north, south, east and west, in other major cities around the globe that, having been neglected and run down for a variety of reasons, are experiencing similar processes of regeneration, in which to a large extent rather than buildings having been demolished and new ones erected, a variety of former commercial warehouses and industrial workshops have been converted into apartments, offices, cafés, bars and shops. These three, however, currently exert the greatest influence at an international level, on fashion and lifestyle trends. Each boasts distinctive 21st century buildings, but down at street level, at times, and in certain locations within each, it’s difficult to separate one from another, especially since an overriding taste for vintage predominates in all.

In 1966, the US Customs Department legalised the definition of ‘antique’ as referring to art, buildings, furniture, accessories or personal possessions that are over 100 years old. Borrowed from wine-making, the meaning of the term ‘vintage’, was adapted and used to denote items in the same categories that were newer than 100 years old.

Over the coarse of the past couple of decades, these precepts themselves have become old fashioned. Currently, it would seem, anything older than last week can qualify as vintage and the description is taken to stand for the increase in value of any manufactured object that is a result of aging, selection or shortage – even when their patina is artificially created. Vintage, properly used, however, stands for a whole look – rather than any single item – and to achieve it requires a confident but relaxed attitude to the mixing of 20th and 21st century styles from a variety of periods.

Those who live in vintage-styled homes, or dress in vintage outfits, or do both – which is common – would much rather, sort her or his way through tightly-packed clothes racks at places such as Berlin’s Mauerpark Flohmarkt (Flea Market), than buy a new item of clothing, or an accessory, in a conventional shop. They might collect original or re-issued vinyl records, but at the same time live very much in the moment and are certain to own or desire the latest smartphone or tablet. They know their way around every aspect of the internet, too. They’ll tweet, text, chat, Skype, bank online and be guided to anywhere they need to go on their cranky old upright bikes by GPS.

It’s not surprising, when items falling into either category are displayed together, that the descriptions ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’ are often mistakenly taken by consumers to mean the same thing. Although there is a clear distinction, the confusion can at times be intended by the dealer, who may try to pass off new articles with fake patina or retro styling that apes much earlier genuine designs, as genuine vintage items. But, it must be said that often customers with little knowledge of design history don’t understand or appreciate the difference, or even care. Some prominent manufacturers, on the other hand, hoping to cash in on growing worldwide interest in vintage, have launched new products with bang up to date features that boast retro styling. Nikon, for instance, have just brought out the Df, a lightwight full-frame digital SLR camera, retailing at a whopping £1,865.76 (€2,215.62 / $2,999.95), which ‘pays homage to analogue camera styling’. With mechanical dials taken from the company’s famous ‘F’ series (1959) of 35mm film cameras – originals can easily be found in second-hand camera shops, on market stalls, and on eBay. The Df comes with an optional wireless mobile adapter, and the camera can be fired remotely by syncing it to a smartphone or tablet. Retro styled cars have been around since the late 1990s – the Prowler, launched in 1997, with exposed front wheels, was American manufacturer Plymouth’s take on a modern hot rod and arguably spearheaded the trend. In 2007, fifty years after it was first launched, the Fiat 500 was rebuilt, redesigned and relaunched, with many of its original features intact. But perhaps the Porsche Citroen 911 DS Franken-Sportscar by American design group Brandpowder, combining elements of two of the most renowned vehicles ever produced – albeit as a Photoshopped image – is the only one of these cars that merits the description ‘vintage’.

Vintage – Design with a History, the forthcoming exhibition at Zürich’s Museum für Gestaltung, will take a look at the special qualities inherent to original pieces from the world of fashion, furniture and product design, with the objective of throwing light on the current yearning for items from the relatively recent past and aims to explore commercial responses to the demand. In this regard, Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela is considered by the curators to be an important figure. Various pieces, spanning the range of his reinterpreted second-hand textiles from the early 1990s to designs that deal conceptually with fashion’s expiry date appear throughout the themed sections of the exhibition.

Images from top
Martin Margiela top, 1989–2001
Boutique Roma
Photo Betty Fleck © ZHdK

Levi’s denim jacket, 1960s, USA
Showing natural signs of wear, in the exhibition this
denim jacket is contrasted with items of clothing which, on leaving
the factory, show artificially produced traces of use

Jeansmuseum Ruedi Karrer
Photo Betty Fleck ©ZHdK

Marcel Breuer, Metal Band Chair, model 1082, 1935
Found by its present owner in a chicken coop,
this chair is the most expensive object on show

©Embru-Werke

Arrangement of vintage pieces, Möbel Zürich, 2012
Photo Regula Bearth ©ZHdK


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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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