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Region of Design
Germany’s East

Text: Stephan Ott


Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg was subjected to massive criticism because her voyage to the US apparently necessitated returning the crew of the high-speed sailer by air. This is an absurd criticism, levelled either deceitfully or naively, given that travel has no longer been climate-neutral since human beings began interfering with the ecological structure. This was already the case, for example, when Columbus’ fleet was constructed in the 15th century. Since that time, at the latest, the only serious discussion left to be had is about proportionality: Is it really necessary to make a journey or design and purchase a product; is there a reasonable balance between their benefit and the respective consumption of resources? These are questions that every individual can and must answer for him- or herself. In other respects – whether we like it or not – we are dependent on designers and others to devise (makeshift) solutions for the consequences of our interference. That may involve products that are modelled on or do justice to nature, dealing with resources in an advanced manner or explicitly foregoing the use of certain materials.



The year 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of the East/West German border. In our main focus, we deal with current design in the east of Germany, introduce to you young design protagonists of the region, take a look at the university scene there and draw your attention to less well-known, but no less relevant projects and institutions. Even if this is not a retrospective on the GDR, the 40-year relationship and non-relationship of the two German states, the consequences of which still occupy us even today, come up time and again. All too often, there is still talk of “us” and “them”, although “[o]f course […] people in the East thought about flexible accommodation at the same time as people in the West or in Japan”, as photographer Wiebke Loeper states, among other things, in an interview. This is also an important statement because of the aspect of new nationalistic tendencies worldwide.



In general, it sometimes seems necessary for our world view to be called into question, for example by maps or breaking open philosophical and other discourses. Both interactive narrative concepts and new presentation formats could help us in this regard, likewise a reconsideration of supposedly proven historical findings, including those about avant-gardes. Last, but not least, for this reason, the following must not be allowed to pass unnoticed: in our archive issue, we criticised the temporary closure of the German Design Council’s library. We are all the happier that it is now open to the public again at a new location on the fair grounds of Messe Frankfurt. The importance of such historical spaces cannot be pointed out often enough: where else can we carry out comprehensive research and how else are we meant to draw valid conclusions?


Stephan Ott, Chefredakteur


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Women and Design

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