“Enduring, not ultimate form”: from “Industrieform” to Red Dot (1980 - 1997)

Still until 23 August 2015, the Red Dot Design Museum and the Ruhr Museum in Essen, Germany, are presenting the exhibition “Enduring, not ultimate form” under the patronage of the President of the German Bundestag, Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert. It tells “60 years of design history in Essen - from ‘Industrieform’ to Red Dot” in Hall 5 at Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site. The center of the exhibition is the development of the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen which is organising the world’s largest design competition, the internationally accepted Red Dot Award.

The title of the exhibition “Enduring, not ultimate form” is a quote by journalist Clara Menck which stems from the time of the first Industrieform exhibition. It describes design as a permanent task to optimise the environment created by us and thus to secure our existence going forward. In the same way that design has constantly changed and developed further, so too has today’s Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen stayed close to the pulse of time in the past sixty years.

In 1954, its predecessor, the association “Industrieform e. V.”, is founded at the initiative of the industry. From 1955, it presents the “Ständige Schau formschöner Industrieerzeugnisse” (Permanent Show of Elegant Industrial Products) in the “Kleines Haus” (Small House) at Villa Hügel. From 1961 it is on show in the Old Synagogue in Essen city. In 1979, a short circuit leads to a fire that destroys the exhibition and the interior. A new location is searched and found.

Amerikahaus (1980 - 1988)
The fire in the Old Synagogue leads to an interruption in the history of Haus Industrieform, with the new location in the Amerikahaus not opening until a year and a half later. This building had been built in 1952 as an information centre for American culture and life, and after its closure in 1964 had become the seat of Essen’s Lord Mayor. The Amerikahaus has a central location in the city but is considerably smaller than the Old Synagogue. The relocation thus also reflects the waning significance of Haus Industrieform. During these years, the content focuses more on consumers, with exhibitions on the design of plastic bags, bumper stickers and solutions for living spaces in cooperation with the IKEA Foundation.

Former city library (1988 - 1997)
The move to the Alte Stadtbibliothek (former city library) marks a major new direction for Haus Industrieform. In 1990, the association’s name is changed to Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen. A new corporate design reflects the changing identity. Two years later, the “red dot” is awarded for the first time, and the conference entitled “Design quo vadis?” explores future prospects.

In 1993, a separate competition for communication design is announced. In the same year, after a conversion phase of just four months, the “Ständige Design-Schau” (Permanent Design Exhibition) is presented in a new configuration in the former city library. Around 700 products are displayed in 1,500 square metres of exhibition space. The “chair arena” is representative of the concept at the time for redesigning the exhibition spaces of the Design Zentrum: Peter Zec dares to bring colour to the exhibition and commissions interior designer Angela Oedekoven with the design of the space. The result is a presentation style that appeals more at an emotional level. Morover, exhibitions e. g. in Tokyo, Singapore and Taipei highlight the international gearing, with Asia becoming a focal area. As early as 1995, a study is carried out in the Design Zentrum examining the possibility of upgrading the Zollverein location to that of a Design Park.

The development after the move to the boiler house of the Zeche Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex and the further history from “Industrieform” to Red Dot from 1997 will be told in short in part 3. The complete history is narrated in the exhibition “Enduring, not ultimate form” until 23 August 2015 in Hall 5 at Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site: The exhibition presents current and historical exhibits, reconstructs elements of past presentations, and documents eyewitness accounts alongside posters and photographs from 60 years of design history.

"Enduring, not ultimate form"
60 years of design history in Essen - from "Industrieform" to Red Dot
A joint exhibition of Ruhr Museum and Red Dot Design Museum Essen

Exhibition duration
Until 23 August 2015

Exhibition location
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Areal A [Schacht/Shaft XII], Hall 5 [A5]
Gelsenkirchener Straße 181
45309 Essen

» Further information on the exhibition
» From “Industrieform” to Red Dot (1954 - 1979)