until 12 January 2020
Design Dialogue
An Experiment

It’s often the case that as one wanders through museum collections and exhibitions, many stories come to mind, along with personal memories and associations with other objects, perhaps from home, other museums, or completely different contexts. There are always unanswered questions, and sometimes the desire arises to learn more about the exhibits. The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) was therefore inviting curious and adventurous guests on an unusual discovery tour. What was it about? In the midst of the Design Collection stands a chest of drawers from the eighteenth century. What was it doing there? Director Tulga Beyerle and her colleagues want to gave you the opportunity to explore with others both the original and a replica of this baroque furniture piece with all its hidden mechanisms, drawers, and refinements, and to relate it to modern design objects. What functions might be revealed by this fascinating multifaceted piece of furniture, designed by Abraham Roentgen around 1760? What stories can it tell? And which descendants does it have in modern design? Any and all ideas and references have been welcome. Sticky notes, neon-coloured adhesive tape, pens, and two bright-red 1960s Valentine typewriters from Olivetti have been at your disposal for saving your thoughts and directly marking any affinities you find between the objects. We here at the museum have been sure that by the end of the evening you saw things with different eyes.

Design Dialogue
is what the MKG called this experiment, the first results of which are already on display in the Design section and will be added to over time. Back in June, museum staff and guests – in twos, in threes, or on their own – contributed their own ideas and invented stories about the artworks. Together they discussed what a pocket globe from 1754 has to do with an Italian seating object from 1966, what the famous Bauhaus telephone from 1928 reminded them of, and why a cassette carousel from the 1980s is already museum material. Then, meters-long coloured strips linked some 100 exhibited objects from the Baroque, Renaissance, Historicism, Middle Ages, Design, and Modern collections, marked unusual connections across epochs. Notes, thoughts, and comments were stuck between, above, or below the works. They documented people’s many different novel, surprising, poetic, and often humorous views of these things.

Draft: Dominik Lutz, joinery/manufacture: das kleine b, Möbelmanufaktur Hamburg, desk chest of drawers, replica, 2019 // Abraham Roentgen (1711-1793), desk chest of drawers, ca. 1760, photo: MKG