Design and Transformation. Stories of Czech Design 1990-2020
Design Museum Brussels, Belgium
September 07, 2022 – January 08, 2023
In conjunction with the Czech Republic’s presidency of the European Union and in cooperation with the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic and other state institutions, the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (UMPRUM) presents the exhibition Design and Transformation. Stories of Czech Design 1990-2020. Starting in September, 2022, and running until the end of the year, this show will be complemented by a rich accompanying program of lectures, workshops, and music performances.
While the majority of the works will be exhibited in the Design Museum Brussels, a smaller corresponding selection will also be on display at the Prague House in Brussels. This latter section of the broader exhibition – entitled Czech Landscape – will present works of professors and students of UMPRUM. The broad aim of this exhibition is to present important Czech companies, to highlight their successes resulting from cooperation with top designers both domestic and foreign, and to bring both the historical context and the current trends of Czech design more clearly into focus.
Design and Transformation shows that the term “Czech design” should not only evoke Czech cubism, studio glass, and Škoda cars, but rather should bring to mind many more remarkable products and works associated with the Czech Republic. To that end, this exhibition traces the relationship between social transformation and design production. In addition to the products themselves, visitors to the exhibition will also be acquainted with the stories of 14 selected companies and projects, both those with centuries of history and those with a more recent vintage. Particular emphasis will be placed on the specific period of the past 30 years. In addition to historical perspectives, the exhibition also focuses on the current form and role of design and looks at the ways in which contemporary designers approach present-day technological, environmental, and ethical challenges. With the shift of the conception of design from the production of beautiful material objects, to engagement with virtual realms, to the potential for strategic organizational influence, the discipline is changing – design itself is being transformed.
In order to complement the exhibited works and to provide a more comprehensive picture of six particular companies presented at the exhibition, short films combining animation and real footage from the production and operation of the respective firms will also be presented. These films will give impressions of the story, vision, and history of the brands in question. Each film was made by a different director as part of a larger creative team led by Michaela Režová, in cooperation with UMPRUM and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU). Finally, the products of all fourteen companies included in Design and Transformation also inspired the winner of the Czech Grand Design 2021 Photographer of the Year award, Vojtěch Veškrn, to create an author’s cycle of photographs, which will also be on display. After its premiere in Brussels, the exhibition will be presented in the Czech Republic – specifically at the Moravian Gallery in Brno, which is also the co-organizer of the whole event.