Event period : 30.11.2018 – 29.09.2019

Friedrich von Borries. Politics of Design. Design of Politics

Deals with the relationship between politics and design as well as the question of the field of tension in which designers and architects operate.
View of the exhibition, Friedrich von Borries. Politics of Design. Design of Politics, 2018.
Photo: Anna Seibel

About the Exhibition

Having in 2016 addressed the relationship between design and politics both from a literary angle in the novel project “RLF. Das richtige Leben im Falschen” and programmatically with the manifesto “Weltentwerfen. Eine politische Designtheorie” (Suhrkamp Verlag), Friedrich von Borries is now developing on this topic an intervention in the museum space at the invitation of Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum.

The exhibition thus also continues a series on contemporary design positions held in the Paternoster Hall. For these, Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum has invited international protagonists of design such as Konstantin Grcic, Werner Aisslinger and Hella Jongerius to produce expansive and multipart installations since 2015.
The exhibition conceived by architect and design theorist Friedrich von Borries consists of three parts:
The first part – the engagement with “Politics of Design” – shows which political moment design contains within itself through a series of interventions in the museum collection. Theses such as “design sexualizes,” “design colonizes” and “design manipulates” offer a new perspective on Coca-Cola advertising, the Sony Walkman, and modernist furniture. Yet the interventionist stance also includes questioning the museum’s own power of interpretation. For this purpose, people were asked via an open call to bring objects to the museum; in September all participants then formed an independent jury. As a result, the museum is showing, among other things, models of vulvas, DIY furniture and urban gardening trash cans for the duration of the exhibition. The highlight of the engagement with the “Politics of Design” is the design model of a slide created by Friedrich von Borries for Thonet with a view to the company’s upcoming 200th anniversary. It addresses the fact that sitting down disciplines us and furthermore has a connection to possession – as seen in the German word “besitzen” – while also raising the question of how we get into dynamic movement from the static, persisting seated position.
The second part of the exhibition is a subjective reflection on the work of Friedrich von Borries to date, displayed in the two paternoster elevators. By donating an artwork his heteronym, the artist Mikael Mikael, intervenes in the museum collection, while in a perpetuating, Sisyphean marble-run installation he also points to the fundamental dilemma of a politically active artist or designer, who will presumably never reach the – supposed – goal.
The third part – “Design of Politics” – looks at the possibilities for shaping and changing politics through design. What contribution can design make to the social and cultural development of a society? Workshops are to be held in the context of the exhibition as a discursive, public design process in cooperation with the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb). By means of an open call, interested citizens, activists, designers, artists and scientists are being invited to a series of workshops, a “base camp for democracy,” at which project ideas are to be jointly developed. The results will be discussed publicly with high-profile guests from the fields of politics, science and culture. A Facebook page with text recommendations, book reviews and expert interviews is to accompany the search movement. This process will be documented in the exhibition.
The exhibition does not only address issues such as “surveillance,” “self-fulfillment,” “commodity,” and “market” against the backdrop of democracy as a form of government that is both worthy of protection and simultaneously in need of improvement. Indeed, with a view to the relationship between politics and design, it also raises the question as to which contexts designers and architects now need to navigate if they want their work to be politically responsible. The catalogue accompanying the exhibition will be issued by Koenig Books.

Exhibition views

  • View of the exhibition, Friedrich von Borries. Politics of Design. Design of Politics, 2018.
    Photo: Anna Seibel
  • View of the exhibition, Friedrich von Borries. Politics of Design. Design of Politics, 2018.
    Photo: Anna Seibel
  • View of the exhibition, Friedrich von Borries. Politics of Design. Design of Politics, 2018.
    Photo: Anna Seibel

Catalogue of the Exhibition

Everyone is a Designer? Open call for homemade design objects

Wall in front of the type case, labeled with exhibition themes such as Sexualized, Formed, Disciplined.
Exhibition view, Friedrich von Borries. Politics of Design, Design of Politics, Die Neue Sammlung, 2018.
Photo: Anna Seibel

How can design contribute to society’s social and cultural development?

In the context of the exhibition Die Neue Sammlung is inviting amateur designers and DIY enthusiasts to bring their homemade objects to the museum and to juxtapose their objects with those of the museum.

  • Curated by:

    Angelika Nollert, Xenia Riemann-Tyroller

  • Supported by:

    PIN. Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne e.V.
    Legero united, the shoemakers
    Leinemann-Stiftung für Bildung und Kunst
    Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
    HFBK, Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg