Angelika Nollert is the Director of the Neue Sammlung (New Collection), the international design museum housed within the Pinakothek der Moderne art museum. She picked her five favourite pieces for us.
“Our collection contains 20 cars which showcase the unique field of vehicle design. One very early example is the Tatra 87 from former Czechoslovakia: a model that remains famous to this day. It was one of the first cars to make use of an aerodynamic design. The principle came about to make cars faster and more streamlined, and to ultimately create a more harmonious appearance. The Tatra’s rear fins were born from this idea, while they also complement the car’s wonderful profile. Its silver colour enhances its beauty – it is, without doubt, one of the most elegant vehicles of all time. The Tatra was designed by Austrian Hans Ledwinka, who was good friends with Ferdinand Porsche. At the time Porsche had been tasked with building the VW Beetle: the first Beetles were completed in 1938, and they also featured an aerodynamic design. This later led to disputes over copyright, as Volkswagen had copied some elements from Tatra.”
“The Futuro House is a mobile living concept created by architect Matti Suuronen; it’s somewhere between a house and a design object. You could install it in a fixed position, or even fit it to a vehicle and move it from place to place. It looks like a UFO – a typical style for the period, which the design world has christened the Space Age: Futuro is definitely a Space Age icon. It was the development of fibreglass-reinforced plastic that made it possible to create structures shaped like the Futuro House. This new material had a huge impact on art and design, as furniture and items made of plastic were simple, light and made the best possible use of space. The Futuro House was originally designed as a ski hut, though its use later expanded to every possible area of application, such as kiosks and mobile holiday homes. Although it had a very democratic design concept behind it – because theoretically the house was affordable for the mass market – the 1973 oil crisis brought steep increases in the price of plastic, and production of the Futuro House ended shortly afterwards. Today, there are just 60 examples surviving around the world.”
“We refer to ourselves as a design museum, however our full name is the Staatliches Museum für angewandte Kunst (State Museum for Applied Arts), so we also house many arts and crafts, including our large collection of pottery. The collection includes this piece by Beate Kuhn. She spent 60 years making ceramics, and is known as the grande dame of 20th-century pottery. She always turned her pieces using a traditional wheel, but she also developed her own system for combining multiple individual shapes such as spheres, cylinders and tear drops, to create highly original designs. Kuhn produced fascinating freeform designs, very organic and abstract, which also demonstrated perfect technique. The pieces were joined together so finely that, even today, experts try to understand why they didn’t fall apart or explode in the kiln. And her glazing inspires me whenever I look at it. Her standing is unique, and has helped Beate Kuhn to build an international fan base.”
“This kettle by Peter Behrens heralded the era of industrial design, and utilised a kind of modular system in its design. The customer could choose from three different shapes – octagonal, oval-shaped or bulb-shaped – three different materials – brass, nickel or copper – and three different sizes. In total, that added up to 81 different variants – though AEG did not produce them all. Behrens’ principle, of offering choice, was brand new for the period and ultimately led to the phenomenon that we now know as customizing: adjusting a mass-produced item to suit the needs and tastes of the customer. Another key feature of the kettle was its mains power connection: users no longer needed the stove to boil water. On top of that, the design also meant that it was no longer necessary to decant the hot water into a porcelain container for serving, as the kettle was beautiful enough to place straight onto the table.”
“This chair was designed by Werner Aisslinger, who is undoubtedly one of Germany’s most important designers. Aisslinger is very innovative, as he uses new materials to attempt to create furniture and objects which are more sustainable. He doesn't always succeed in achieving this objective, as companies often don’t have the machinery to produce his designs, or the products are simply too expensive to make. Of course, he has also developed items which sell very well, though he continues to experiment all the time. Chair Farm is based on the vision of a self-growing chair. Aisslinger’s intention with this piece was to raise awareness of resource wastage, as chairs are often thrown away; for instance when a hotel undergoes a complete refit. His chair is made from willow branches, which grow over a frame made from steel. Any number of these chairs could be planted in parks, And when they weren’t needed any more, they could simply be thrown onto the compost heap. Aisslinger is keen to expand the concept from self-growing chairs to stools, footrests and small tables. I love this idea as it gets people thinking about waste, and it can be implemented globally but produced locally. This would reduce transport, packaging and rubbish.”