Three decades left their mark on him: the 1950s, when his childhood coincided with that of the German Federal Republic; the 1970s, when he was indoctrinated into functionalism during his architecture studies; and the 1980s, the halcyon days of the G e rman design underground, the Berlin version of which Andreas Brandolini decisively influenced. It is to this latter era – he became one of the leading figures of “New German Design” – that his penchant for experimentation can be traced. The avant- gardist first rose to fame with his contribution to documenta 8, the first art show to focus on design. Brandolini exhibited a “German living room” there, an institution that he tried to come to terms with through irony: for example with a couch suite grouped around a sausage-shaped table under which a fire blazed – a pastiche of the petty bourgeois domestic idyll. Objects function here as “signifiers”, an approach with artistic elements evoking a critique of the times, something Brandolini devoted himself to intensely. A table with metalprofile legs that come to a point where they touch the floor, a chair whose legs bend at their most fragile point, a book ladder that also functions as a newspaper basket: These designs, although relatively simply built, display irritating aspects, or even alienating factors, such as those familiar from the work of Stefan Wewerka. Such intellectual constructs calling into question the concept of functionality were hardly suitable for series production. As counter- program, Brandolini founded a project called Utilism Collective in the 1980s. Joining him were Axel Kufus and Jasper Morrison, two protagonists of practical minimalism. As an ex-rebel, Brandolini has been professor of design in Saarbrücken for two decades, while working as architect and exhibit organizer as well as international mouthpiece for a somewhat different take on German design. Now he has presented a furn i t u re ensemble that speaks a formal language just as fundamental as its inventory: bed, chair, table and bench of solid wood (for a.g. mandelbach). Designed for a school’s country field centre, the ecologically impeccable furn i t u re is strongly reminiscent of the “rural” homeland preservation style of the early 20th century.
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