Pillnitz Palace & Park are home to the Design Campus and its Summer School. The Palace was originally designed for the Saxon Electors, as a fantasy world, a garden filled with fun and amusements. The palace and the gardens have provided inspiration for writers, artists, thinkers, and musicians throughout history.
The baroque chinoiserie of the palace and its gardens, both wild and formal, are blended harmoniously with the Elbe River Valley and the surrounding vineyards. The landscape inspired the painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774 – 1840), who explored the sublime through his painting. Encouraging viewers of his landscapes to reunite with their spiritual selves by contemplating nature. The palace and its surroundings inspired the music of Carl Maria von Weber (1786 – 1826) and Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883), who both spent summers nearby. In 1905, the German artist collective Die Brücke was founded, in Dresden, and drew some of their inspiration from the idyllic palace.
The palace and its grounds are part of the Green Forum in Dresden. The forum is a joint effort between state and private institutions dedicated to historical and environmental preservation and research. The area itself has been synonymous with sustainability since the time of Hans Carl von Carlowitz (1645 – 1714), when he wrote his seminal text on sustainable forestry, Sylvicultura oeconomica. A gardening school, a testament to the palace’s long history as a place of learning, has been part of the grounds since 1922.
The palace complex has been the site of many momentous political events. From the Pillnitz Conference in 1791, where the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia declared their support for the doomed King of France, finished partitioning Poland into their respective domains of control, and discussed the continuing war with the Ottoman Empire. Napoleon Bonaparte was a frequent guest during his Russian campaign.
Around 1900, the area became a hotspot for scientific innovation. From carpenter Karl Schmidt’s early urban planning initiatives in the town of Hellerau to the modern technology sector bolstered by the largest network of high-tech companies in Europe, Silicon Saxony.
After the resignation of the Saxon Royal House in 1918, Pillnitz Palace & Park became a public museum. In 1963, the Kunstgewerbemuseum moved into the property. The palace and the outbuildings were extensively restored and renovated in the 1990s. However, the flooding of the Elbe River in 2002 caused severe damage, initiating a four-year renovation and redevelopment project.
While the palace and its grounds are sublimely beautiful, they have been the site of much change: political, artistic, functional, and technological. It is with this history of innovation in mind the Design Campus and “School of Utopias” welcome designers, artists, thinkers, philosophers, and anyone else interested in critically and creatively questioning our current world to design a better future. Anyone looking to make something better, more equitable, than the world and structures in which we currently live. To take up the historical promise of the site and create a concrete vision for a new world.