How work affects life.
Designs by the Industrial Design class of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, under the direction of Prof. Stefan Diez, in an exhibition curated by Matylda Krzykowski at the MAKK Cologne.

Work, as the old German proverb says, is half the life. One would think that this view would be a relic of the past. But instead, the debate about work is more complex and extensive than ever - and that for quite some time. In the context of infinite possibilities in career choice and the paradigm of a self-determined life, decisions in this regard increasingly overburdening the individual. Currently, the importance we attach to work in the relationship between free time, family, self-determination and external determination is increasingly being questioned and whether we can and want to separate work and free time from each other at all. Where is the centre of our “work-life balance”, where and how do we want to work, into what do we want to invest our time? For some, work is an essential aspect of existence fulfilment, for others it secures their existence and for still others it is a psychological burden, especially, or in particular, when work is missing. However, work in its current form is also the cause of our enormous consumption of resources and leads continuously to the destruction of the common basis of life. This aspect in particular shows how complex the arguments are and how urgently necessary it has become to reconsider priorities and circumstances.

Under my supervision, the students dealt with current and future forms of work over two semesters: While the first semester dealt with the current influences on the world of work in terms of technological, economic and social changes, the second semester focused with the production methods of these projects from the point of view of a future-oriented circular economy.

Designers, especially industrial designers, have a direct influence on the tools of work and on how people work together in workplaces. Whether in offices, studios, workshops, in the fields or at home... Designers awaken the consumer desires of a society and, together with industry and crafts, satisfy them by transforming resources into products and services. It is therefore obvious that designers play a central role in the transformation of the thematic complexes of work and economy.

The students were accompanied for two semesters by the ID1 team (Christian Ruschitzka, Christian Steiner, Christoph von Berg, Doris Grossi, Elisabeth Wildling, Eva Kitting, Jakob Illera, Katrin Sailer, Marcus Bruckmann, Peter Mahlknecht, Sandra Hofmeister, Sophia Podreka and Ursula Klein) and additionally by Gonzalezhaase (Berlin), Mirko Borsche (Munich), Harald Gründl (EOOS-Vienna), Matylda Krzykowski (Berlin), Gustav Lindholm (HAY-Copenhagen), Daniel Prost (Institute of Architecture, the Applied), Dominik Hammer, Arthur Desmet and Lina Fischer (DIEZOFFICE-Munich) in numerous discussions and workshops. The project was kicked off by Matylda Krzykowski with a 3-day workshop on personal, speculative working spaces. The students were generously and valuably supported in the implementation of the projects and the exhibition by our project partner, the Augsburg-based company WAGNER-LIVING.

Stefan Diez, Munich, February 2021

Every product design is a conception of the world

WORKSPACE IN PROGRESS focuses on the relationship of a young generation to work. The designs address the current conditions of the working environment, such as creativity, adaptability and flexibility, and the associated technological, economic and social challenges. There is hardly a better place to negotiate the present and the future than in teaching and training. The question of what preferred spaces we need to earn our income and into what we want to invest our time is recurring. And more importantly, will they be activities we want to pursue?

The result of this negotiation is an exhibition at MAKK Cologne consisting of a depository of products and projects in the form of processes, furniture, lighting, clothing, video, appliances and systems. In the course of the exhibition, these ideas are activated in the sense of props on a stage through performances. Through the action, expected and perceived challenges such as remote working, lack of movement, limitation of space or lack of privacy.

Rarely has a topic dominated all areas of work and life as much as the pandemic. Our familiar environment has become a screen. The question of how the students’ designs could come into contact with an audience that might be absent from the museum gave rise to the proposal to document the performative work processes and to share them in the form of videos in digital space. It is not enough to translate a product that has taken place in the analogue into the digital. Viewing a physical experience, on the other hand, stages the possibility of experiencing work in a way. Only through an action are designs integrated into a possible world view.

Matylda Krzykowski, Berlin, February 2021

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The exhibition

WORKSPACE IN PROGRESS will take place at the Museum of Applied Art in Cologne MAKK from 27 April - 09 May 2021, in parallel with a digital programme. The exhibition is curated by Matylda Krzykowski, planned by Lina Fischer (DIEZOFFICE) and graphically realised by Bureau Borsche. Video production in collaboration with Daniel van Hauten.

WORKSPACE IN PROGRESS was created in collaboration with and with the valuable support of WAGNER-LIVING, Augsburg.