Between Chairs

Exhibition project of Bauhaus Lab, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, in cooperation with HfG-Archiv Ulm

Studio HfG, 3 February – 18 March 2018
Between Chairs

Exhibition in Dessau. Photography: Kathrin Rutschmann

Summer 1965 in Ahmedabad, India. Hans Gugelot, a lecturer at the HfG Ulm (a successor institution of the Bauhaus) is a guest of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad (NID). Together with the Indian designer Gajanan Upadhyay and students he designs a seating suite: the Indian Lounge, also known as 24/42 Chairs. This exemplifies the combined effect of two design approaches – the system design of the HfG Ulm and the low-cost design from Ahmedabad. Made from teak and Indian fabric, the suite draws on local craftsmanship traditions in respect of materials and fabrication and merges these with contemporary design.

At the time, the collaboration in this summer workshop is already embedded in an international network. It also reflects the ambitions of a modern India, which formed the basis for the foundation of the National Institute of Design – an institute with a curriculum that knowingly drew also on its own cultures.

The 1960s were a time of change: In the geopolitical context of the Cold War and national independence, postwar mass consumerism and ‘development’, the two schools – the HfG Ulm and the NID in Ahmedabad – formed a particularly fertile ground for the redefinition of the relationship between design and society. The dialogue between Germany and India tells us about global modernism, and also about its rifts: The HfG Ulm, which promoted a radically scientific approach to design and closed in 1968 on the one hand and, on the other, the NID in Ahmedabad, a standard-bearer of modern India that remains active to this day.

The Ulm School of Design was founded in 1953 by Inge Scholl, Otl Aicher and Max Bill. With its experimental approach and distinct design vocabulary it was often regarded internationally as the successor to the Bauhaus. The foundation of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad in 1961 was an expression of the particular importance of design for a modern India. The educational programme was internationally orientated and the collaboration with the Ulm School of Design came about as a result of this. While the Ulm School of Design closed in 1968, the National Institute of Design remains active to this day.

Beginning with the Indian Lounge or 24/42 Chairs, the Bauhaus Lab 2017 investigated the transcultural dialogues concerning the education of designers as mediators between universal design and a local culture of things. In the exhibition the seating suite is placed in the context of related things that shaped the then ongoing discourse about the recovery of a design praxis that occupied a critical role in daily life. The exhibition was first on view at the Bauhaus Stiftung Dessau in 2017.

Exhibition concept „Bauhaus LAB 2017. Between chairs. Dialogues on Craft and Design“, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau 2017

Booklet available, 9,90 €.

Between Chairs: Guided Tours

Thursday, 6.30 p.m.: 8 February, 1 March 2018
Sunday, 3.00 p.m.: 18 February, 18 March 2018


We cordially invite you and your friends for the opening on Friday, 2 February 2018, in the Mensa of the buildung of the former Ulm School of Design.

Dr. Martin Mäntele
Head of Department HfG-Archiv / Museum Ulm

Dr. Regina Bittner
Head of Department Academy / Deputy Director

Ulm School of Design – From the Zero Hour to 1968
New permanent exhibition in the HfG Archive Ulm

Von der Stunde Null bis 1968

Photos, left to right: unknown, Ernst Fesseler, Wolfgang Siol, Wolfgang Siol, Ernst Fesseler, Wolfgang Siol © Ulmer Museum, HfG-Archiv Ulm

«The Ulm School of Design – From the Zero Hour to 1968», is the title of a new permanent exhibition on the history of this legendary academy presented by HfG-Archiv / Ulmer Museum. During its existence between 1953 and 1968 the Ulm School of Design became one of the world’s most influential academies for designers. Here such iconic designs as the Ulm stool and the stacked tableware TC 100 were made, and also the Braun company’s radio-phono combination SK 4, known as “Snow White’s coffin.” The “ulm model” that was developed at the HfG was a design concept based on science and technology, and it sets standards to this day.

The new presentation covers around 275 square meters and includes more than 200 exhibits and numerous photographs from the comprehensive inventory at the HfG Archive in Ulm. With this rich collection of works and documents and the proximity to the former Ulm School premises, Ulm is the only place where the history of the School can be experienced in this way.

The exhibition design was done by Ruedi Baur and his team from the Laboratoire Irb Paris. Their aim was to bring the archive to life.

The exhibition is divided into three main sections, beginning with a quick presentation of the key features of the immediate postwar “Zero Hour” and the years before the Ulm School was founded. The core of the exhibition design is two large shelf components. The first shows the history of the Ulm School chronologically, together with designs, models, and projects from these years. The second shelf presents selected concepts and themes alphabetically from A to Z, all of which help to understand a wide range of issues associated with the Ulm School. The founders of the School, Inge Aicher-Scholl, Otl Aicher, and Max Bill, are also featured in the exhibition. Two large tables are dedicated to temporary exhibitions. For the new opening, these will be used as large “newspapers” showing interesting examples of how the press reported on the Ulm School.

Since 1993, the HfG Archive has been a department within the Ulm Museum. The Archive had been set up back in 1987, with the assistance of former Ulm School students. In 2011 the HfG Archive moved to premises in the former Ulm School of Design building at Am Hochsträß. The exhibition space has now been expanded, and from fall 2013 the HfG Archive will be able to present the history of the Ulm School in our new permanent exhibition with more scope than has previously been possible.

The exhibition is supported by the Department of Culture and the Media of the German Federal Government, the Ministry of Science, Research and Art of Baden-Württemberg, and the City of Ulm.