Beyond its permanent exhibition, MAKK draws on a rich fount of works assembled into changing exhibitions, including a focus on visually and technologically innovative seating ranging from a wooden chair by Thonet Brothers and Bauhaus cantilever examples (Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) to plywood furniture by Alvar Alto, works by Charles and Ray Eames, and extravagances from Castiglioni to Grcic.

Photo: Peter Bender
Photo: Peter Bender

The museum’s clever juxtaposition of design objects and works of fine art really brings out the collection’s highlights. Entering into dialog with paintings by artists like Kandinsky, Vasarely, Soto, Mondrian, or Uecker they reveal intriguing references and complex thematic or formal interdependencies.

Photo: Ioanna Gogolin
Photo: Ioanna Gogolin

Incidentally, many of the design objects on display come courtesy of private collector RG Winkler who donated his collection to MAKK in 2005. A cross-section of twisted treasures across the decades includes anything from the first desks for open-plan offices (turn of the century) to design/art hybrids by the likes of Ron Arad, thus covering more than a century of design history.

Photo: Ioanna Gogolin
Photo: Ioanna Gogolin

Our tour starts in the basement, skirting a special exhibition by Rolf Sachs, “Typically German?” (extended until 6 Sept), with a brief review of early design history of the 19th century.

Here, the most comprehensive collection of innovative halogen lamps from the early days of lighting advances sits side by side with various iconic appliances by Braun, Olivetti, and Macintosh, American and European radio stations, and many other exhibits from the 1930s until today.

Photo: Peter Bender
Photo: Peter Bender

Works by Frank Lloyd Wright take pride of place, a. o. a desk with integrated chair hung on a spring – a pioneering precursor of contemporary open-plan interior design. Reproducible, functional design, optimized for use.

Everyday objects like telephones and typewriters exemplify technical innovation, united by their penchant for geometric shapes. Bauhaus and art deco are followed by samples from 1940s to 1990s design and even a glimpse of 21st century icons. It’s far too much to take in at a glance, so feel free to return with more time!