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Retrotopia. Design for Socialist Spaces is a collaborative exhibition project that looks at the role and influence of design in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc and former Yugoslavia between the 1950s and the 1980s. An innovative network of curators and institutions has come together to open up new and surprising insights into the complex facets of the design landscape of a region that remains unknown to the broader (and in particular Western) public. With their extensive research work, the forces behind Retrotopia are making a decisive contribution to a long-overdue re-evaluation of the global and decolonial history of design.

Retrotopia. Design for Socialist Spaces produces a kaleidoscope of realised and visionary design concepts for public and private spaces. Though “space” here should be understood according to Henri Lefebvre’s definition of it as a mental, physical and symbolic construct. The spectrum of ideas presented here ranges from futurist interiors for hotels or a presidential lounge at an airport to visual communication for sports events or festivals in public urban spaces, interior design models for new apartments, opulent textiles or artistic glass installations for trade fairs, reconstructions of visionary architectures, as well as cybernetic living spaces. In the second part of the exhibition, extensive archive material, photos, posters, magazines, books, films and other design objects come together to create a kind of three-dimensional mind map on thematic clusters related to design institutions, design education, design discourses, exhibitions, networks and design collections, inviting audiences to engage with the themes more deeply.

Among other works at the exhibition, sketches for stained glass windows by Alexander Dubovik from the collection of the Stedley Art Foundation will be presented.

25 March – 16 July 2023
A special exhibition of the Kunstgewerbemuseum – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Press preview: Friday, 24 March 2023, 11 am
Opening: Friday, 24 March 2023, 7 pm