simson, diamant, erika
Design by Karl Clauss Dietel
Simson, Diamant, Erika, Trabant, Wartburg, Robur and Heliradio … even 30 years after the fall of the Wall, these product names are firmly anchored in German design history and in the collective memory. They are inseparably linked with the life’s work of the Chemnitz designer Karl Clauss Dietel. In 2014, Dietel was the first and only designer from the former GDR to receive the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany for outstanding design.
The exhibition at the Kunstsammlungen am Theaterplatz shows a representative selection of objects, designs, models and photographs from the collection of the form designer acquired in 2019 with the support of the Saxon State Office for Museums and the City of Chemnitz. In addition to the icons simson, erika, diamant, unique models for revolutionary prototypes of the Trabant and Wartburg brands, legendary classics from Heliradio and long-forgotten product designs are on display. The show directs the focus beyond individual works to urban planning and (interior) architectural projects even outside of “Karl-Chemnitz-Stadt,” as Dietel ambiguously refers to his adopted city. For Dietel, people, human scale and use were always the core and starting point of his design. Thus, a product should be as durable, light, lütt, life-friendly and quiet as possible. A true all-round designer and exceptional artist, Dietel, in collaboration with Lutz Rudolph and Dieter von Amende, designed not only machines, equipment, vehicles, typewriters and radios on a grand scale, but also numerous accessories and small technical devices, as well as logos and product graphics, free visual artworks and architecture-related works.
Aware of the importance of a cohesive œuvre, Karl Clauss Dietel has archived his life’s work over all these decades and in 2019 handed it over in its entirety to the care of the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz. With the acquisition of the collection, the Kunstsammlungen are now increasingly opening up to the artistic side of East and West German product and industrial design. They preserve the legacy of Karl Clauss Dietel as a significant treasure of German design history and as an outstanding collection of supra-regional importance. Research and exhibitions help to ensure that the enduring presence of Dietel’s design language over generations remains present and is not forgotten.
Parallel to the exhibition, the publication karl clauss dietel – die offene Form by Walter Scheiffele and Steffen Schuhmann will be published (Spector Books, 398 pages, hardcover, 42 euros). For the finissage, the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz will host the international conference on MATRIX MODERNE I OSTMODERNE on October 1-2, 2021 as a scientific symposium and network meeting.
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