During the 1950s and 60s, the Deutscher Werkbund developed the so called “Werkbundkisten” (Werkbund boxes) as part of their taste education program.
These boxes could be borrowed by schools for art or handicraft lessons. “Nice equipment made of plastic” was put together inside a silvery, light alloy box. Since approximately 1930, the thermoplastic polystyrene had captured the market and households in the shape of containers and storage boxes.
Renowned designers like Wilhelm Wagenfeld and Tapio Wirkkala developed household items from plastic and were honoured with design awards.
The salad servers shown here, made from matt black, opaque melamine were designed in 1953 by Danish designer and material researcher Herbert Krenchel (1922-2014). They “prove that cutlery from plastic can certainly be part of a noble and festive table, if it has been shaped with sensitivity and coloured compellingly (…)”
On Thursday, September 15, 2016, we are opening the special exhibition “Object Lessons. The Story of Material Education in 8 Chapters”, focusing on material literacy. A selection of items taken from the “Werkbundkisten” on plastics will illustrate the principle of knowledge transfer through direct observation and sensory experience.
“Werkbundkisten” are also part of our digitalisation project 2016, aiming to make selected inventories visible online.