As the new exhibition Die Form ist nur Teil des Ganzen at the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus Bremen makes very clear, Wilhelm Wagenfeld was firmly of the opinion that those objects with which we surround ourselves should be created so as to make them not only functional but to make their use a relevant, natural and self-evident part of our daily routine. Form not so much following function as use. While remaining an attractive, aesthetically agreeable, indispensable part of every object.
Wagenfeld was largely concerned with “analogue” objects such as crockery, glassware, cutlery, ink bottles and the like.
But what about household machines? Food mixers? Vacuum cleaners? Kettles? Curling tongs?
Despite the flood of advertising trying to convince us otherwise household machines invariably have something distant and impersonal about them.
Yes they may be colourful, may have smooth curves inspired by flowing rivers, may look a bit “retro”; but they remain largely soulless functional objects.
They do what they are supposed to, but as a general rule do that in a spiritless, generic, fashion.
In a joint project between the Institute for Form Research at the Fachhochschule Potsdam and the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Berlin, students from the FH Potsdam were challenged to consider how household machines could be made more personal, more emotional if you will, and so explore if they could thus also be made more relevant, more useful.
The results can be viewed in the exhibition STANDBY – Vom Leben mit Geräten at the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Berlin.
Presenting a range of objects from the abstract over the theoretical and onto the genuinely practical, objects neatly juxtapositioned with examples of “real” household machines, Standby not only ably tackles the central question in hand but also represents a nice piece of criticism of the easy laziness with which modern household tools are formed. And demonstrates that it is possible to design functional household machines with a little more elan and character than the global monotony we know today.
Possible and desirable.
Viewing the exhibition one can’t help feeling that Wilhelm Wagenfeld would have thoroughly agreed with much of the students’ thinking
STANDBY – Vom Leben mit Geräten can be viewed at the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Berlin, Oranienstraße 25, D-10999 Berlin until Monday June 9th.
And if you do visit, 4+1 by Mark Braun at SOX is about 100m away….