forum design

In 1980 a piece of land between the motorway, the Railway Bridge and the Danube thoroughly shook up the design world: the forum design in Linz marked a milestone in the history of design.

At the Pulse of the Time

Immediately after the presentation of the sensational large sculptures of the forum metall in 1977, the team consisting of Angela Hareiter, Laurids Ortner and Peter Baum, chaired by the former Principal of the University of Arts Helmuth Gsöllpointner, started thinking about a new theme, namely design. It was the beginning of postmodernism, hence the most appropriate moment: a new form of design was developing, with a palpable desire for more sensuousness and humour. Design was caught in a field of tension at that time with the transition from Bauhaus with its clear, unmistakable form language on the one hand, and design reduced to pure functionality over the course of decades on the other hand.

Train with a Café

Everyone is constantly influenced by the omnipresence of design. forum design wanted to raise awareness for this fact and focused on this topic for a period of 100 days, from 27 June to 5 October 1980. The Haus-Rucker-Co architectural group designed the exhibition venue, a temporary space which simultaneously was part of the overall concept: a long train with carriage-like single pavilions covered with a protective skin of white plastic. At the end of the train, the Linz Café was situated, a yellow-painted wooden construction by the architect Christopher Alexander.

"The Bauhaus of the Eighties"

In the entrance area of the exhibition venue, the subject matter and thematic fields of design as well as a historical outline were presented. Individual concepts by leading international designers were juxtaposed with industrial design plans and products inside the carriages on both sides of the middle section. An extensive treatment of the term design in the broadest sense was undertaken for the first time by the forum design. This was to have a lasting influence on the further development of design. Or as Raymond Loewy said in his opening speech: “The forum design is the Bauhaus of the eighties.” The exhibition was accompanied by the equally well received publication "Design is Invisible".

forum design in the Capital of Culture Year 2009

The international success of the forum design exhibition was overshadowed by media conflicts while it was still running. In the 1980s, the withdrawal of funding bodies and sponsors led to an unfortunate financial situation for the design show that resulted in criminal proceedings. In the Capital of Culture Year, the Upper Austrian State Museum, in cooperation with Linz09, organized an exhibition entitled "The forum design Case". For this exhibition, former protagonists, staff, legal experts and critics of the forum design were brought together once again.