The Bauhaus Museum in Berlin presents an annual exhibition of modern applied art. Last year it showed photography; this year it is textile design. Conceived by Professor Bettina Göttke-Krogmann and implemented by Corina Forthaber, the exhibition is small but impressive. The layout is well thought-out, and all aspects of the material are covered in eight design areas entitled, 1) Tradition; 2) Cultural transfer; 3) Colour; 4) Materials; 5) Techniques; 6) “Smart materials”, 7) New technology; and 8) Sustainability. This classification is illustrated on eight tables, each measuring eight metres in length. They display examples from industry, small workshops and factories as well as one-offs created by textile designers and students of the Burg Giebichenstein textile design department. Works included in the exhibition range from innovative and sustainably produced materials to 3D-printed clothing and functional smart textiles.
A blend of well-known names and young designers makes the show exciting and fresh. It was also encouraging to hear that at least seven out of ten textile design students now find jobs in industry. Professor Göttke-Krogman told me that in her day, the ratio of students who would achieve professional success was three out of ten. Today the automotive and aircraft industries frequently offer employment to textile designers as the textile industry is still in decline.
The Bauhaus Museum director, Annemarie Jaeggi made reference to the links between the former Bauhaus art school (1915) and the art school at Burg Giebichenstein, which is still in operation (since 1919). It is true that the two institutions shared many common ideals. However, how many of their former revolutionary principles are still in place today? At Burg Giebichenstein university, the textile department, department of textile art and fashion department operate separately. The latter two do not feature in this exhibition! When asked about the art department, Professor Göttke-Krogmann replied: “They have a different mentality, we work in the applied arts and hope to be useful to others.” The idea of being useful was the old Bauhaus idea (“Architects, sculptors, painters – we all must return to craftsmanship. For there is no such thing as ‘art by profession’… So let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen, free of the divisive class pretensions that endeavoured to raise a prideful barrier between craftsmen and artists!” – footnote 1). The period of Russian revolutionary textile design espoused the same idea of merging art and design. We will need to wait until someone of Walter Gropius’ calibre is involved in textile design, and until then there will probably be silence regarding the “silent designers”, as textile designers are often called.
The exhibition is on view from 16 March to 5 September 2016 at the Bauhaus Archive, Klingelhöferstrasse 14, D-10785 Berlin. The very detailed English-German catalogue is available at the Bauhaus Archive, costs are 32 Euro plus postage.Beatrijs Sterk
15th March 2016
Link to Textile Forum magazine 4/2002 with the first article on 3D printing textile done by Janne Kyttannen