until 20 September 2020
Design Dialogue - Red
An Experiment

Sorting museum objects from different collections and epochs only by their colour? This approach is not quite common for the conception of an exhibition. Nevertheless, the new edition of the ongoing experiment called Design Dialogue at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) began with precisely this course of action, focussing on: the colour red. At the beginning of the year, visitors chose their very personal favourites on the basis of 76 object profiles from the collections of the MKG. From this selection, an exhibition should have been staged with audience participation. Due to the Corona-related closure, the project team set up a showcase of red objects themselves – creating very different, sometimes unusual connections between the objects. Now the MKG is open again and all guests are invited to comment on the presentation and the objects, to question them and to think about the connections further. The team is happy to receive comments and wishes via email at vermittlung(at)

Colours affect us emotionally and can influence our feeling of well-being. Most people associate the colour red with dynamism, aggression, heat or passion. Designers have always used this effect for their work. Accents are set, the desire to buy is increased: Objects in red, for example Studio 65’s iconic Lips Sofa (1970) or the Up armchair by Gaetano Pesce (1969), make a sensual and alluring impression. Over thousands of years, the colour red was considered a status symbol. Extracting and processing red dyes from natural sources have been a complex undertaking, making them extremely expensive. It was not until 1868 that a method was discovered for chemically manufacturing a dye called alizarin, ushering in the democratisation of red as a fashion shade. Red garments nevertheless remained rare until the first half of the twenti-eth century. They finally rose in popularity in the 1950s and had their heyday in the 1960s and 70s in the age of Pop culture.

Design Dialogue
is an ongoing experiment, which takes place since 2019 in the middle of the design department of the MKG and in which museum visitors take part in open workshops. Here, those who are interested have a chance to join curators in selecting objects from various periods and fields. Lively debates and detailed investigations, accompanied by conservators, bring some fresh and surprising points of view to the exhibits while relating them to each other in new and different ways.

Ill.: Exhibition view, photo: MKG