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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Designing Modern Germany

German design and architecture reflects the country’s rich and fraught political history in its structure and aesthetic philosophy. Jeremy Aynsley now offers an in-depth study of this relationship between German history and design since 1870 and the complex principles underlying it.

Designing Modern Germany reveals how German attitudes toward national identity, modernity and technology are crucial to understanding German design. Aynsley traces the historical development of German design, beginning in the 1870s with the first dedicated Arts and Crafts schools and stretching through to the famous institutions of the Bauhaus and the Ulm Hochschule für Gestaltung. He analyses the works of leading figures such as Peter Behrens and Hannes Meyer, through to Ingo Maurer and Jil Sander, and many others in design specialties including graphics, industrial and furniture design, fashion and architecture. He also offers the first consideration of the contrasting design traditions of East and West Germany between 1949 and 1989. Whether examining the pre-First World War department store, the National Socialist fashion system or East Germany’s official design culture, Designing Modern Germany reveals that German design significantly affected citizens’ daily lives.

An essential read for designers and scholars of German design and history, Designing Modern Germany is a key text for understanding Germany’s major contribution to twentieth-century design.

256 pages | 52 color plates, 73 halftones | 6 3/4 x 7 1/2

Art: Art--General Studies

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"There are very few books that survey the complicated history of German design from the first stirrings of modernism in 1870 to the post-reunification Germany of today. More than a roll call of great designers, Aynsley provides a fully contextualised history with sections on design education, department stores and publishing, and throughout, a close examination of design’s often uneasy relationship with politics and national identity."–ARLIS


"This overview of more than a century of German design makes two special contributions: first, its broad survey allows one to understand the relation between early design movements and later design culture; second, it pays particular attention to both National Socialist and East German contributions to design. As a result, this book, more than any source outside academic specialist literature, brings the complexity of German developments to the public. In particular, Designing Germany should be required reading for all professors teaching history of design courses. . . . Essential."


Table of Contents

Introduction: the Culture of Design in Germany

1. Design Ideals, Design Reform, Design Professions, 1870-1914

2. Experiment and Tradition in Design, 1917-33

3. Politics and Design: Reaction and Consolidation, 1933-45

4. Reconstruction and the Tale of Two Germanys, 1945-75

5. Reunification: Design in a Global Context, 1975-2005


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