Red Dot Award celebrates 60 years of design history

60 years of award-winning design – what began as “Permanent Show of Elegant Industrial Products” in 1955 has become the world’s largest exhibition of contemporary design: About 2,000 exhibits are presented in the Red Dot Design Museum Essen. Back then, like today, all of the exhibits were assessed by an independent jury and awarded for their outstanding design quality. The Design Zentrum NRW has been organizinging the internationally renowned competition for design, now the Red Dot Design Award, since 1955.

On the occasion of this anniversary, the Ruhr Museum and Red Dot Design Museum in Germany’s Ruhr metropolis are presenting an exhibition on 60 years of design history in Essen. It is the first cooperation of the two largest museums at the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage site. With the title “Enduring, not ultimate form”, the joint exhibition will place a spotlight on the highlights of Red Dot’s history.

From 29 June until 23 August 2015, visitors to Hall 5 of Zollverein can go on a journey through the history of award-winning design – from “Industrieform”, the original name of the award organization, to Red Dot. The exhibition presents current and historical exhibits and reconstructs highlights of former presentations. Posters and photographs from the last six decades are documented alongside eyewitness accounts.

“In the same way that design has constantly changed and developed over the years, so too has our institution always kept abreast of change. This is why this journey into the past, back to the roots of the Red Dot, is something very special and extremely exciting,” says Dr. Peter Zec, president, Design Zentrum NRW and founder of Red Dot.

“Design in its language of form is an important part of our culture – it is formative and at the same time a reflection of the zeitgeist. We now live in a highly stylized society in which recognition has enormous, not least economic importance. This is because clever design ensures attention on a global market of exchangeability. But attention itself is not always a seal of quality. Just how important good design is (or has become) is demonstrated by the success story of the Red Dot Design Award as the world’s biggest competition for product design,” says Dr. Norbert Lammert, president of the German parliament.

The title of the exhibition “Enduring, not ultimate form” is a quote by journalist Clara Menck which was created in relation to the design exhibition in the 1950s. The phrase refers to the timelessness of the basic form of day-to-day objects: This “enduring” quality is only made complete through constant change and optimisation. For example, while the design of a chair is entrenched in people’s lasting collective memory, there will never be the “ultimate” chair.

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Exhibition duration: 29 June – 23 August 2015