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German Cities and Bourgeois Modernism, 1890-1924$
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Maiken Umbach

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557394

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557394.001.0001

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The Designed Object: Commercial Culture and the Global Market

The Designed Object: Commercial Culture and the Global Market

(p.142) 5 The Designed Object: Commercial Culture and the Global Market
German Cities and Bourgeois Modernism, 1890-1924

Maiken Umbach (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 analyses how modern mass‐produced objects, especially the products manufactured and promoted by the German Werkbund, incorporated notions of place, memory and nature. The first wave of globalization, while giving rise to a marked cultural imperialism, also fostered a new preoccupation with cultural specificity in Germany. Vernacular prototypes and Arts and Crafts inspirations informed a new industrial commodity culture, and underpinned the success story of goods ‘made in Germany’. Challenging existing accounts of the Werkbund controversy (Werkbundstreit) of 1914, which have focused on the conflict between art and economics, the chapter draws attention to a subtly different rivalry between Muthesius, who saw authentic and rooted design as the cure for the loss of identity in modernism, and Osthaus, who saw the commercialization of culture as a way of democratizing modernity, and whose aesthetic programme took its inspiration from advertising and shop window displays.

Keywords:   industrial design, commodities, consumption, Werkbundstreit, globalization, made in Germany, Muthesius, Osthaus

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