Summer 1965 in Ahmedabad, India. Hans Gugelot, lecturer at the HfG Ulm (a successor institution of the Bauhaus) is a guest of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad (NID). Together with Indian designer Gajanan Upadhyay and students he designs the Indian Lounge, also known as 24/42 Chairs. This exemplifies the combined effect of two design approaches – the system design of the HfG Ulm and the low-cost design from Ahmedabad. Made from teak and Indian fabric, the suite draws on local craftsmanship traditions in respect of materials and fabrication and merges these with contemporary design.
At the time, the collaboration in this summer workshop is already embedded in an international network. It also reflects the ambitions of a modern India, which formed the basis for the foundation of the National Institute of Design – an institute with a curriculum that delibaretely drew also on its own cultures.
The 1960s were a time of change: In the geopolitical context of the Cold War and national independence, post-war mass consumerism and ‘development’, the two schools – the HfG Ulm and the NID in Ahmedabad – formed a particularly fertile ground for the redefinition of the relationship between design and society. The dialogue between Germany and India tells us about global modernism, and also about its rifts: On the one hand, the HfG Ulm, which promoted a radically scientific approach to design and closed in 1968, on the other, the NID in Ahmedabad, a standard-bearer of modern India that remains active to this day.
The Ulm School of Design was founded in 1953 by Inge Scholl, Otl Aicher and Max Bill. With its experimental approach and distinct design vocabulary it was often regarded internationally as the successor to the Bauhaus. The foundation of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad in 1961 was an expression of the particular importance of design for a modern India. The educational programme was internationally oriented, which set the collaboration with the Ulm School of Design in motion. While the Ulm School of Design closed in 1968, the National Institute of Design remains active to this day.
Beginning with the Indian Lounge or 24/42 Chairs, the Bauhaus Lab 2017 investigated the transcultural dialogues concerning the education of designers as mediators between universal design and a local culture of things. In the exhibition the seating suite is placed in the context of related things that shaped the then ongoing discourse about the recovery of a design praxis that occupied a critical role in daily life. The exhibition was first on view at the Bauhaus Stiftung Dessau in 2017.
It was accompanied by a publication and a programme of public events. Due to its popularity, the exhibition was extended until 2 April 2018.