The Authority of Everyday Objects: A Cultural History of West German Industrial Design

By Paul Betts | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Coming in from the Cold
Design and Domesticity

Despite the difficulties described in the preceding chapter, over the course of the 1950s the German Design Council's moral design crusade managed to attract a wide range of adherents outside the more established “good form” design world. These people too worried about the dangerous effects of rampant consumerism, but their strategy to preserve the moral substance of the industrial commodity was very different, for they sought to do this by wedding modern design with the modern family. At issue, then, is how the private sphere was re-imagined during the decade, how the nature and understanding of domestic space were changing. This chapter begins by focusing on the shifting spatial and cultural relationship between the kitchen and the living room since the Kaiserreich as an alternative means of studying West Germany's culture of domesticity. It then takes up how the '50s idealization of the private sphere dovetailed with the larger reorganization of “social aesthetics” after 1945. In so doing it returns to a matter first raised in chapter 1: What happened to the Nazi “aestheticization of politics” after 1945? It is not enough to say that the fusion of aesthetics and politics simply expired with the collapse of the Third Reich and Goebbels's propaganda machine. To be sure, it never re-emerged in its '30s guise, but it did not completely die off. How and why industrial design rested at the heart of this post-Nazi negotiation of political aesthetics and the private good is the main theme of the last section of the chapter.


The Designer Family

If the Design Council's bid to professionalize design education and rewrite copyright laws enjoyed only limited success, its more general fear about

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The Authority of Everyday Objects: A Cultural History of West German Industrial Design
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction - Design, the Cold War, and West German Culture 1
  • Chapter One - Nazi Modernism Reconsidered 23
  • Chapter Two - The New German Werkbund 73
  • Chapter Three - The Promise and Peril of Organic Design 109
  • Chapter Four - The Ulm Institute of Design 139
  • Chapter Five - The German Design Council 178
  • Chapter Six - Design and Domesticity 212
  • Conclusion - The Return of History as Design 249
  • Notes 265
  • Bibliography 319
  • Index 339
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