Between Chairs

17 Aug – 15 Oct 2017

Craft Becomes Modern meets Bauhaus Lab 2017

Summer 1965 in Ahmedabad, India. Hans Gugelot, a lecturer at the HfG Ulm (a successor institution of the Bauhaus) is a guest of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad (NID). Together with the Indian designer Gajanan Upadhyay and students he designs a seating suite: the Indian Lounge, also known as 24/42 Chairs. This exemplifies the combined effect of two design approaches – the system design of the HfG Ulm and the low-cost design from Ahmedabad. Made from teak and Indian fabric, the suite draws on local craftsmanship traditions in respect of materials and fabrication and merges these with contemporary design.

At the time, the collaboration in this summer workshop is already embedded in an international network. It also reflects the ambitions of a modern India, which formed the basis for the foundation of the National Institute of Design – an institute with a curriculum that knowingly drew also on its own cultures.

The 1960s were a time of change: In the geopolitical context of the Cold War and national independence, postwar mass consumerism and ‘development’, the two schools – the HfG Ulm and the NID in Ahmedabad – formed a particularly fertile ground for the redefinition of the relationship between design and society. The dialogue between Germany and India tells us about global modernism, and also about its rifts: The HfG Ulm, which promoted a radically scientific approach to design and closed in 1968 on the one hand and, on the other, the NID in Ahmedabad, a standard-bearer of modern India that remains active to this day.

Beginning with the Indian Lounge or 24/42 Chairs, the Bauhaus Lab 2017 investigated the transcultural dialogues concerning the education of designers as mediators between universal design and a local culture of things. In which dialogues did the designers take part? Which role did craft play in design education? How was the relationship between design and society perceived?

This year once again, the Bauhaus Lab concludes with an exhibition. Here, the seating suite is placed in the context of related things that shaped the then ongoing discourse about the recovery of a design praxis that occupied a critical role in daily life.

In an accessible circuit that draws on the grid pattern of the seating suite, the eight international participants use objects and documents to illustrate the focal points of their three months of research, from the diplomatic role of the cultural institutions and the geopolitical context of the two schools to the fabrication of the seating suite.

The symposium on 17 August 2017 explored these questions in greater depth and connected them with the current exhibition project of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Craft Becomes Modern. The Bauhaus in the Making. The international guests for the talks on design pedagogies, design rhetorics and design historiographies were: Martin Mäntele (Head of Archives, HfG Ulm), Tanishka Kachru (design historian, NID, Ahmedabad), Alison Clarke (design historian, London, Vienna), Renee Padt (curator, Stockholm), Michael Zinganel (Curator, Vienna), Guus Gugelot (Designer, Hamburg) Adam Drazin (Anthropologist, London).


Bauhaus Lab 2017
Between Chairs. Dialogues on Craft and Design
17 . 8 . – 15 . 10 . 2017

Bauhaus Dessau
Gropiusallee 38
06846 Dessau-Roßlau