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Naked Objects is the fifth edition in the Nieuwe German Gestaltung exhibition series. Organised by state of DESIGN, and curated by its directors Alexandra Klatt and Max Borka, the exhibition shows once again a newand different choice of the best, latest and most innovative, radical and experimental in contemporary German design. The venue is a 400sqm warehouse in the Belgisches Viertel, the most lively neighborhoodof Cologne, where the show runs parallel to the world’s second largest interior fair IMM, andPassagen, Germany’s largest design event.

At times in which everyone agrees that change is urgently needed,Nieuwe German Gestaltung responds to a necessity, especially in a country which, despite - or just because of - the fact that itisworldwide considered tobe a (if not: the) major catalyser of the ruling design scene, has constantly been largely ignoring anything that was not primarily industrially oriented, but critical, social orexperimental –or otherwise said: thatdoesnot exclusively serve the interests of the industry, but those of the whole community

Former editions of Nieuwe German Gestaltung included Nullpunkt, at the Marta Herford Museum, and two Refugium exhibitions inBerlin - oneat Tempelhof, and a second one spread over several locations in the city, as part of the first state of DESIGN, BERLIN festival. Most recently, The Wall, at the Biennale Kortrijk, inBelgium, was also the first edition outside of Germany. More than 160 designers participated in these 5 exhibitions, a list that reads like a who’s who in German design.

In its search for new ways to present design, and like its predecessors, this exhibition, freely mixes elements of existing formats –of a fair, showroom, classroom, workshop, club, museum, gallery and shop. Doing away with the limitations of a fair stand, for instance, the works are presented as a carefully curated whole, while for the first time, visitors can also buy the exhibits on the spot. For the first time a leading design school, the Berliner Universität der Künste UdK, is part of the platform. And again, this exhibition modestly has also set itself the aim toraise the debate on future design with a series of daily talks, in which participating designers will be confronted with the question ‘How naked is your object?’.

Naked Objects was a term which we already used in2000,todescribe the poetry in the work of a young talent whom wehadinvited as Guest of Honor at the Biennale Interieur, and who was soon to become Germany’s most succesful and influential designer, Konstantin Grcic. The term was recently brought up again during the preparations for The Wall, Nieuwe German Gestaltung #004 in Kortrijk.

If the work of the nearly 50 participants of this Naked Objects exhibition illustrates one thing, then itis certainly also the fact that there are as many interpretations of the term as believers. Which isgood. Naked Objects stands for a design that can be undressed, undraped, disrobed, unveiled, without a stitch, unadorned, unembellished, unornamented, unvarnished, plain, unsophisticaded, modest, unpretentious, unconspicious, muted, restrained, sober, subdued, toned down, unobtrusive, understated, weak, vulnerable, fragile, bald, defenseless, exposed, helpless, bared, barren, raw, au naturel, open, frank, honest, transparent, stripped down to its bare essentials, daring and provocative, free, peeled, unconcealed, uncovered etcetera. Almost all of these characteristics represent values that are not taken all too serious within the powercentres of design. And yet, they might indicate the road which future design should take, asan Arte Povera, which tries to turn less (material) into more (spiritual), away from the tyranny of anything that is proclaimed tobegood design by today’s consumer society: slick, glamorous, luxurious, good looking andhighly seductive, or simply practical, but all too often lethal andperilous —‘formes fatales’ that keep on promising heaven but–socially, psychologically, environmentally, and even economically- have long been proven tobe a one-way ticket to its antipode.

Alexandra Klatt & Max Borka
Directors state of DESIGN