Demisch Danant is pleased to announce its second micro-presentation: German Avant-Garde Design In the 1980s: Pentagon Group with Beate Kuhn. Pentagon Group and Beate Kuhn, although employing very different practices, complement each other in the way they both address art and design in post-modern Germany. Each of their work has an inherent poetry in their designs, emotionally charged and materially expressive.
The 1980’s were a reactionary period in which designers sought to liberate themselves from the constraints of functionality and turn more towards the visual arts, to include narratives and emotional content. German designers, influenced by the freed expression established by Italy’s Alchimia and Memphis movements, developed their own design vocabulary and aesthetic derivative of the divided German post-modern experience.
The New German design movement produced different ‘schools’ or groups within itself according to geographical location and its particular influences. A common thread amongst the different groups was a distinct sense of Self, which had not been previously present in classic German design. Using common materials that were low cost and readily available, the result was a raw, severe aesthetic with an unmistakable energy. With its brutal honesty, new German 80’s design remains uncontrived, refreshing, and truly reflective of the social conditions in which it originated.
Pentagon Group, a collective artist group from Cologne founded in 1985, had a constructivist approach with more strict, minimal forms. The five members of the group -Wolfgang Laubersheimer, Reinhard Muller, Meyer Voggenreiter, Ralph Sommer, and Gern Arens – were not designers per se but all had artistic training, masters in their craft. Their furniture was functional but experimental and raw, challenging the realm of post-modern design.
Beate Kuhn, one of the most important figures in post-war German ceramic arts working from the 1950s, also had a reactionary approach to post-war ceramic practices and traditional German modern design. Since the 1960s, she was one of the first potters in Germany to abandon utilitarian work in favor of purely artistic work. Kuhn’s works are heavily influenced by nature and she described them as abstract interpretations of naturally occurring forms. Even her less figurative works conjure up associations of the underwater world, of corals and marine plants, and the nature in our surroundings, the branches of shrubs, tree trunks, flowers or other plants. The additive groupings often reflect natural laws of the life process, of growth and rhythmic change.