Designing for Socialist Need - a new book

NCAD lecturer Katharina Pfützner has published a pioneering study into design in the GDR.

The product of numerous interviews, hours in archives and close attention to works of design, NCAD lecturer Katharina Pfützner’s new book, Designing for Socialist Need, is a landmark study of design in East Germany. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the image of East Germany has been associated with kitsch ‘ostalgic’ objects and with the cruel operations of the Stasi. Pfützner provides a new picture by focusing on the aims and perspectives of modernist industrial designers working in the country from the 1950s to the 1980s. She shows how they sought to design useful and practical things which would meet real needs.

Reflecting on Pfützner’s new book, historian and writer Kjetil Fallan finds many connections with the world today: ‘At a time,’ he writes, ‘when imagining alternatives to the capitalist onsumer market at as the default setting for design has become more pressing than ever, Pfützner’s new study is a poignant reminder that the future once held different possibilities – and still does.’

Designing for Socialist Need: Industrial Design Practice in the German Democratic Republic is published by Routledge and will be launched at the NCAD Gallery (100 Thomas Street, Dublin) on at 18-20.00 Thursday 14th June – all welcome.

Website image: Glass table service Europa, designed by Margarete Jahny and Erich Müller, 1964; manufactured by VEB Glaswerk Schwepnitz; Photo: Christel Lehmann, Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Sammlung industrielle Gestaltung, Berlin