Minimalist living sounds nice in theory. It just wouldn’t work out for me. I like the stories that objects tell about their past histories and lives. I can’t really help it. Some people collect; I accumulate. And moving to Berlin with its epic flea markets has really only compounded things.
So when I first read about the Museum der Dinge I was intrigued. What things? That wasn’t immediately clear. But I liked the purposeful ambiguity of the name.
The articles in the collection, all “Made in Germany”, natürlich, are presented without judgment: a history of the last century told through everyday objects. From handmade to factory production, enamel to Bakelite, porcelain to steel and from aluminum to plastic. From the most celebrated creations of Dieter Rams to the most banal plastic brush, objects are presented with little introduction, while minimal explanations in English and German interpret their historical setting. Design from East and West Germany is also compared. Deliciously kitsch objects find a place here, as well as functional kitchen items from the turn of the last century.
The publicly funded museum is run by the Werkbundarchiv which stems from the Deutsche Werkbund. The organization was founded in 1907 as an organization of artists, designers and manufacturers who strove to establish a “cultural utopia” which they believed could be brought about through design and lifestyle reform. The Werkbund eventually played a role in the development of modern architecture, industrial design and the creation of the Bauhaus School.