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The Role of Design in Everyday Life as Presented at the Family and Household Exhibitions (1957–1960)


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Galjer, Jasna and Ceraj, Iva. (2011). The Role of Design in Everyday Life as Presented at the Family and Household Exhibitions (1957–1960) . Radovi instituta za povijest umjetnosti (35). pp. 277-296. ISSN 0350-3437

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In the period after World War II, modern housing and the quality of everyday life became a key segment of a broader debate on social, ideological, and cultural issues. Its sources reside in the interwar period, but it was only after 1945 that they acquired larger proportions in the framework of socio-economic restoration, industrialization, and attempts at solving housing problems. Propaganda and education in the period after the war were characterized by a variety of media which helped in communicating the new concepts of housing. That process was inseparable from the social role of the emerging design, which created the impression of the flourishing 1950s, with a major contribution of professional organizations such as the British Council of Industrial Design or the Rat für Formgebung in West Germany. In the socialist countries of the Eastern Bloc, the culture of hosing bore the stamp of social realism, but after 1945 it acquired different features. Even though science and technology played a key role in the overall progress and the processes of modernizing the society, the ideological base and the socialist reality showed numerous contradictions between what was planned, proclaimed, and realized. Initiated in the atmosphere of reformatory optimism and good political relations with both East and West, the Family and Household exhibitions, which took place at the Zagreb Fairgrounds between 1957 and 1960, indicated that even the most difficult social problems, such as the issue of housing in the socio-economic constellation of the time, were to be solved systematically. However, the true scope of these exhibitions as a promotional example of the quality of life cannot be separated from the construction of housing facilities or from production programmes, in which the presented architectural solutions and designs were unfortunately not applied adequately. An indicative example, on the basis of which the authors have shown the transfer of postulates and ideas of Modernism to the area of housing problems, is the activity of Bernardo Bernardi (1921-1985), one of the Exat architects, all of whom graduated in the class of Zdenko Strižić, professor at the Faculty of Technology, Department of Architecture. Transfer of progressive trends was largely ensured through the pedagogical activity of Zagreb architects, who studied, like Strižić himself had done, with some of the most distinguished representatives of interwar functionalism, such as H. Poelzig, A. Loos, J. J. P. Oud, and Le Corbusier. They combined their functionalist approach with the traditional Japanese model of housing, as well as ideas of Charlotte Perriand, which created an important link to the postwar trend of purifying the living space and its furnishing. In this context, the authors have analyzed Bernardi’s proposals for a two-room and a three-room apartment with adequate industrial furnishing, which were presented at the 2nd Family and Household exhibition in 1958 as a life-size model. In the section dedicated to furniture design, Bernardi indicated the need of creative standardization, proposing it as a solution to the acute problem of synchronizing furniture design and the newly created circumstances of small living quarters. At the 3rd Family and Household exhibition in 1960, his awarded project called The Apartment of Our Immediate Future, used the disposition, organization, and furnishing of the living space in order to indicate the need of transforming the notion of habitation into that of the housing culture. Thus, the role of this exhibition series in this dynamic period, when the idea of housing was being transferred from the individual to the mass level, has been recognized as important and relevant.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Keywords: the 1950s, history of design, housing exhibitions, Family and Household, Bernardo Bernardi, Modernist legacy, housing culture
Subjects: History of art
Departments: Department of Art History
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2012 12:02
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2012 12:02

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