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Women in Design: More light on gaps in history

Women in Design: More light on gaps in history

Presents the exhibition “Here We Are!” The Furniture Museum in Vienna has more than just a feminist callsign in the history of design.

You can always tell the story differently. Distortion of facts. Or – which is less obvious – ignore the facts. This is especially easy when evidence seems to accumulate in the archives unnoticed anyway. The Vitra Design Museum's collection has amassed nearly 20,000 objects over the past 30 years, including 7,000 pieces of furniture. And they proved one thing above all else: the history of design is entirely masculine. Not that women also did not help shape them. No, more because the parental firewall barely allowed them to appear. Women are still working, designing and full of ideas.

When the women who manage and search for the collection at the Vitra Design Museum took a closer look at their treasures, they asked themselves: “Why are women so few visible?” says Susan Graner. Why does the female part of design history remain largely unnoticed and unaddressed? Graner emphasizes that the museum wants not only to collect and collect, but above all: to make it visible. On the one hand, this is the purpose of the display warehouse. And: exhibition spaces in which associations and backgrounds with objects can be clearly intensified. So curators Susan Graner, Vivian Stapmans, and Nina Steinmüller decided to do a “deep dive,” as Graner puts it. To bring some amazing stories, facts and connections to the surface from the depths of the collection. Along with some designer names rarely heard in the mainstream canon of design history. For many, the shadow cast by big male names was too great. Especially when they were the wives of famous “grand masters,” like Aino Aalto, who was surpassed by her husband, Alvar Aalto.

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