The exhibition “Heading Outdoors” focuses on one of humankind’s fundamental longings – the desire to go outside. Irrespective of whether this means going out into the great wide open, to a park, into our own backyards, or even to the city, alone or with other people – our need to spend some of our free time outside is greater than ever.
In design, this centuries-old longing is reflected in all manner of ways, be it in designs for outdoors or in folding, hinged and portable objects. Even nature itself serves as a source of inspiration. A footbridge made, as is the entire exhibition architecture, of recycled and reusable material, guides viewers through different subjects and eras. As the exhibits make it clear, design is always specific to particular societies and times. One example is the material that is plastic. In the 1960s, it was hailed as trendsetting and nowadays it poses an environmental problem that is almost impossible to solve.
The exhibition invites viewers to consider the relationships between human and nature, between public and private space, and even our responsibility towards “Heading Outdoors”, as these relationships are always subject to change.
Outdoors = Indoors
Nature has repeatedly served design as a source of inspiration. For example, in the late 1960s and early 1970s designers collaborated with the Italian firm Gufram to bring the outdoors indoors – albeit in an ironic, provocative manner informed by Pop Art. They masterminded sculptural objects made of plastic that stand for a humorous, playful approach to design, enthusiasm for new materials and a society undergoing transformation.
Our notion of the garden is closely connected with the history of sitting and seating. While around 1900 people used weatherproof chairs made of iron and wood, from the 1960s onwards these were increasingly replaced by seating made of plastic. This new versatile material made it possible to have bright colors, round or organic shapes, and affordable furniture. Spherical designs embodied an enthusiasm for space travel and visions of the future, the so-called ‘Space Age’. Today, the focus of furniture design is shifting towards questions of sustainability and flexible use both indoors and outdoors.
Camping in East Germany
Camping symbolizes a longing for nature, holiday, freedom and individuality. As citizens in former East Germany were only allowed to travel to a few countries their enthusiasm for camping saw a continual rise. This passion was expressed in objects that could be folded and stacked while also being lightweight and sturdy – criteria that are still the major focus when designing camping paraphernalia today.
The manner in which we move around our towns and cities is constantly changing. Electromobility and the principle of (car) sharing are among the most important new developments in recent years. The range of exhibits presented here extends from skateboards via scooters and e-scooters through to touring bikes and rental e-bikes. However, some of the innovations in this area nonetheless have a negative impact on the environment: High resource consumption levels and the problem of large-scale disposal call into question the sustainability of some of these solutions.
As a focus of the museum’s collection activities, sport encompasses summer and winter sports such as watersports and mountain sports. Climbing, kayaking, tobogganing, and skiing primarily occur in the mountains. Innovations in these areas include space-saving products like folding skis or modular kayaks. Moreover, sustainability also plays an important role in the guise of product longevity and local production sites. However, such a huge number of people heading outdoors also puts great pressure on nature and the environment.
Parks and the Pandemic
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, parks and green spaces provide places for people to escape, places which are open to the public and assume great importance in people’s everyday lives. The municipal park has a social function offering recreation, leisure, and encounters. The section on ‘Parks and the Pandemic’ reflects innovative and experimental solutions for the new requirements for social distancing and waste disposal in public spaces.
Colors play an elementary role in design, a belief shared by designers Otl Aicher and Eberhard Stauss. In the early 1980s when they teamed up to design the corporate identity for Munich Airport, they chose a color concept that was inspired by the landscape in Upper Bavaria. As one of the main colors they chose a bright “light airport blue”. In their eyes it was characteristic for the play of light and color in the foothills of the Alps and the “Foehn skies of Upper Bavaria” produced by the foehn winds there.