Designer Bernd Kuchenbeiser in Villa Stuck – Munich

What defines good design? That it has a unique style that is instantly recognisable? Or should it take a back seat to work instead? For Berndkuchenbeiser, one of the most recognized German book and plate designers, design is primarily a social act. Good design requires dialogue, the establishment of a relationship. It is not an individual expression of a single person. Pushing oneself into the foreground is therefore not the Munich designer’s business, as can now be seen at an exhibition in Villa Stuck. It’s called “A Big Announcement”, but sounds modest in the subtitle. “Bernd Cakebeiser shows books and records,” it says. And that is exactly what happens in the exhibition.

Including some that the designer, who was born in 1969, designed himself. Like “Facing You” by Keith Jarrett and “We Are On The Age” by Art Ensemble of Chicago, two of several discs that kuchenbeiser created for ECM-Records and Erased Tape Records. Then there are numerous art books such as “Allmanach” by José Antonio Suárez Londoo or an illustrated book on “New construction in the Alps”. However, the majority of the more than 400 objects come from other designers whom kuchenbeiser values, admires, whose works he collects, or who were “father figures” to him (there are actually only a few women and mothers). This can be seen in the form of original objects, which are mostly on knee-high cardboard tables attached to the wall with wires.

However, the majority are only available as black and white photographs, supplemented with information such as the designer’s name and year of origin. The images are printed on white or monochrome paper strips that cover the walls tightly packed together. In doing so, Bernd Cakebeiser, who studied music and communication design in Heidelberg and Mannheim, deliberately chose a material that can be recycled. And it is first of all elementary for plate and book design. The event is influenced by “Prima Facie: Marilyn’s Dress”. A book by John Baldessari which combines 16 colors with their names given by the manufacturers and makes a “concrete poem” out of it.

A tendency towards minimalism

“Atmosphere”, “Calm” or “Creative Thinking” are the names that are now also on the walls and to which the works are assigned associatively. Deleuze and Guattari would speak of a “rhizome”. Cake Beiser himself calls it a “kaleidoscope” and means it in the most literal sense “seeing beautiful shapes”. There are lots of them, all created in the last 120 years. It is difficult to single out individuals. In fact, the designer has already done this himself. For example, samplers with music by Duke Elington or Memphis Slim hang from the ceiling, designed by Christoph Ehbets in the GDR. Works by the Italian AG Fronzoni are also on display, as are the book projects Kuchenbeiser did with Katharina Gaenssler, who was also involved in the scenography.

What unites many objects is a recognizable tendency towards minimalism, a tendency towards the essential. Writing also plays an important role. Cake Beiser himself took this to the extreme with the “Rudolf Bott – Enduro” catalog that he designed for Villa Stuck in 2018. For this, Bott’s white jewelry objects were photographed against a white background. The collaboration with the museum also began with this catalogue, where the designer spent the next three months in Franz von Stuck’s former studio and created the publication for the exhibition. There is also a music system that plays records. There will be talks with guests, concerts are also planned. This gives this visually stimulating track its acoustic moment. Which leaves the only downside: you can’t and can’t touch all the pretty stuff.

A big announcement. Berndkuchenbeiser shows books and records, until January 15, Villa Stuck, Prinzregentenstr. 60,

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