Designed for the Window Gallery of Česká spořitelna, the 1910 – 1990 curatorial installation discovers, by means of spatial illustrations and objects, five crucial cities that all had a significant impact on the development of design and applied arts in certain periods of one century, ranging from monarchist Prague where the worldwide phenomenon of cubist design originated, interwar modernism in Paris, and the cultural heyday of California in the 1950s to radical Milan and punk London during the 1990s. All these world centers dictated taste and gave form to modern applied arts in different times.
Painting angular forms became the Czech avant-garde doctrine as a new artistic style – French cubism – was warmly welcomed. However, an incoming generation of Czech architects and designers led by Josef Gočár, Václav Chochol, Emil Králíček, and Pavel Janák ventured farther than their colleagues from Western Europe, applying cubism to architecture and applied arts. Thus, a blind branch of the development was born. However, it was totally unprecedented, making Prague the only city where cubist principles were consistently applied to architecture and design.
The social boom in Paris between the wars was linked with a new avant-garde view of the world, which brought about radical modernism, mediating the ideas of great architects, such as Le Corbusier, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and Eileen Gray. The upper classes and their enormous wealth provided lucrative work to such great decorators as Jean-Michel Frank and Serge Roche, as well as designers René Herbst, Jacques Le Chevalier, and many others whose designs still represent the highly radical application of visual functionalist language.
1950 Los Angeles
American post-war prosperity was best seen in sunny California, which became the center of architectural experiments, also due to its nice climate. The American dream materialized in the form of a modern glassed-in house open to the surrounding landscape, furnished with modernist furniture that provided space for everyday relaxation. Los Angeles residential architecture, represented by such giants as Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Raphael Soriano, A. Quincy Jones, and many others, was at its height during that time, complemented with lot-produced affordable designs by the Eames, Greta Magnusson Grossman, and Raymond Loewy, plus unique handicraft pieces by Dan Johnson, Zahara Schatz, and J. B. Blunk.
Milan has always been an ideal breeding ground for design. The unreproducible style of Italian design was born there in the 1950s, culminating at the turn of the 1960s and 70s, when young experimenters responded to the fading force of modernist with a new pop-art revolution followed by postmodernism several years later. This radical wave was best summarized in 1972 at one of the most influential exhibitions in the history of design entitled the New Domestic Landscape at the MOMA in New York, which presented new qualities and meanings of contemporary design formulated by Ettore Sottsass, Superstudio, Achille Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti, Enzo Mari, Nanda Vigo, Gae Aulenti, and others.
A wide range of young designers, who exclude themselves from mainstream production with their work and enrich contemporary design with action, performance, craftsmanship, and new conceptual approaches, started to concentrate in London as early as the 1980s. Israeli Ron Arad, Australian Marc Newson, Tom Dixon and minimalist Jasper Morrison became leading figures of the new "punk" movement in industrial and interior design. Raw industrial aesthetics were combined with the renaissance of the designer ready-made. Thus, the incoming generation of super-designers took charge of events on a global scale.