Violence and Contemporary Design

Design is more than just the concept for a product. Creative ideas allow the structuring of relationships and the generation of new basic principles for our everyday lives. But design also has its dark sides ...

Brutal Beauty

Violence and Contemporary Design

7 February – 1 May 2016, Marta Herford (Lippold Gallery, 1st floor)

Whether in political conflicts or conflicts in everyday life – the subject of violence is ever-present. Against the background of international terrorism and the current streams of refugees from war zones, the subject is more topical than ever.

But how do designers deal with violence? What responsibility do they bear, and which possibilities for action do they open up in this highly dynamic process? Marta Herford introduces a whole new generation of designers whose designs and strategies are making violence visible in order to take a stance against the often devastating worldwide developments now and in the future. They are no longer concerned solely with the design of the perfect product, but rather with shaping social processes. As an engine for participation or inclusion, design can thus be understood as the opposite to submission (Vilém Flusser).

The exhibition also points up the dark side of design. Although design is meant to serve humans in a wide variety of ways, if we look more closely, violence and design are like Siamese twins. Because, at the latest in the production stage, a material is – brutally – forced into a particular shape. In addition to this, a lot of product developments have military origins. The ugly face of design is ultimately exposed when things are no longer usable and have to be disposed of.

The Belgian design expert Max Borka (Berlin) serves as an advisor to the Marta team for “Brutal Beauty”, the scenography for the exhibition is designed by Matthias Megyeri (Stuttgart/London).

Participating designers, artists and projecs

Shay Alkalay, Michael Anastassiades, Barnaby Barford, Bastøy, Jeremy Bentham, Ewoudt Boonstra, James Bridle, Anthony Burrill, Peter Butcher, Jordi Canudas, Paolo Chiasera, Curro Claret, Francis Ford Coppola, Hein van Dam, Anthony Dunne, Ray & Charles Eames, Fairphone, Ron From, Paulo Goldstein, Alexander Groves, Dave Hakkens, Chris Jordan, Asger Jorn, Cyrus Kabiru, Ronen Kadushin, Jan Pieter Kaptein, An-Sofie Kesteleyn, Knitting Behind Bars, Bert Kramer, The Landfill Harmonic, Eva Lechner, Ross Lovegrove, Felipe Luchi, Zack McDonald, Matthias Megyeri, Yael Mer, Guy Mishaly, Azusa Murakami, George Nelson, Gitte Nygaard, Ernesto Oroza, Marijn van der Poll, Fiona Raby, Michael Sailstorfer, Skateistan, Jair Straschnow, Ezri Tarazi, Marcus Vetter, Carolien Vlieger, Tobias Vollmer, Dominic Wilcox


Taking the exhibition as its starting point a workshop is to be initiated, which addresses questions of violence and exclusion. In cooperation with Herford Correctional Facility, the Diakonische Stiftung Wittekindshof charitable foundation, and the University of Applied Science in Detmold.

Katalog "Brutal schön" Text: Max Borka, Preface by Friederike Fast and Roland Nachtigäller
Format: 12 x 19.5 cm
176 pages
156 mostly colour illustrations
Language: German | English
Editor: Marta Herford gGmbH
Publisher: Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld
Price: 18 €
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Thank you

Many thanks to the Marta Herford Corporate Partners and Corporate Premium Partners for their ongoing support of our program.

Ausstellungsplakat Brutal schön Marta Herford

Exhibition poster

Video-Trailer zur Ausstellung

Video: Exhibition trailer (German)