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Call for Papers - Pioneers of Design Education


Pioneers of Design Education: International Perspectives on Schools of Decorative Arts before the Bauhaus 19./20. May 2022, online

Kunstgewerbemuseum/Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in cooperation with 
Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Direktion Museen

The Dresden Network and Research Project “Pioneers of Design Education” calls for contributions on the topic “International Perspectives on Schools of Decorative Arts before the Bauhaus” for its annual online conference. Schools of Decorative Arts – also referred to as “Schools of Applied Arts” or “Schools of Arts and Crafts” – were not only a European, but a worldwide phenomenon and each institution was connected to its particular economic, aesthetic and sometimes colonial matters. Although being pioneers of modern design education and highly innovative, early Schools of Decorative Arts still lack basic art historical research, especially from their beginnings in the middle of the 19th century until World War I. These institutions were the first to promote a transformation in design education and reacted to the revolutionary changes of industrialisation: Separation of execution and design, admission of female students and extended vocational training were some of their innovative ideas. The schools continuously restructured and refined their concepts. In doing so, they became an important field for experimentation that formed the base for design education as we know it today.

While the Dresden Project focusses on Schools of Decorative Arts in Germany, the conference examines how the phenomenon spread globally. The first schools were established after the international exchange and competition of the art industry at the World’s Fairs in the middle of the 19th century. The history of German Schools of Decorative Arts therefore cannot be explained without a look at international inspirations, first and foremost from London/England and Vienna/Austria. But apart from a European context, the research network is especially looking for contributions on the genesis of schools worldwide like the “Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts” in
Jerusalem or on the colonial context of the schools in India, Mozambique and other countries.
The conference contextualises German Schools of Decorative Arts to point out their specific characteristics, but also focusses on discussing and comparing structures of design education, influences and personal networks on an international perspective.

The conference aims to approach the following topics:
- Case Studies: Schools of Decorative Arts and governmental structures of design education in all parts of Europe and worldwide
- Networks and Influences: inspiration, dissemination and connections between Schools of Decorative Arts, their teachers and students, also in colonial contexts
- National and Political Ambitions: incorporation in educational systems, economic goals, forming of national identities
- Exchange and Publicity: Schools of Decorative Arts exhibiting at World’s Fairs and the involvement of international markets

Please send us abstracts (no longer than 300 words) for a presentation of 20 minutes, together with a short biographical note, by 6th March 2022. SUBMIT HERE

Schülerinnen der Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule, darunter Fanny Harlfinger-Zakucka, nach 1903 © Julia Harlfinger