HfG Ulm



On a hectic day-trip to London recently I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Ulm School show at Raven Row. It was fascinating to see the objects that emerged from the collaborative efforts of students and staff within the context of this art space, as the supporting text states:

‘During its short life from 1953 to 1968, the Ulm School of Design (HfG Ulm) in Southern Germany pioneered an interdisciplinary and systematic approach to design education – known as the Ulm Model – that was to become universal. On the face of it, the HfG Ulm had little to do with art. Design work was mostly collectivised and rationalised, the idea of the designer as intuitive ‘artist’ emphatically rejected, and the designer’s role understood as only one amongst the many specialisms of industrial production. But this exhibition suggests that the school continued the projects of the artistic avant-gardes, especially Constructivism, in that objects were systematically designed to project ideal social relations’.

It took me back to my own design education, some thirty five years ago, when the ripples of influence from the Ulm School and the Bauhaus (one of my tutors was Wilf Franks who had studied there under Gropius and El Lissitzky – well he was 84!) clashed with the emerging ideas from Sottsass Jr’s Memphis and architectural postmodernism. There was just enough time left to see the William Kentridge exhibition at the Whitechapel and Infinity Mix at The Store, organised by the Hayward – both great shows.

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