Airworld. Design and Architecture for Air Travel

July 21 through November 5, 2006

Stedelijk MuseumCS

For nearly a century now the airline industry has been an important player in the field of architecture and design. For many architects and designers it is an honour to design something for this branch of industry, from stewardess’s (and stewards) uniforms to signposting, from a terminal to services and cutlery. ‘Airworld’ gives a good picture of the history of air travel, with a focus on the developments that design and architecture have undergone. This is the first time that this theme has been illuminated so widely from the perspective of architecture and design. The exhibition ‘Airworld. Design and Architecture for Air Travel’ is organizedr by the Vitra Design Museum (Weil am Rhein). The Stedelijk has added posters from its own collection and objects that are typical for Dutch design.

The ‘status’ that flying has had over the course of the years becomes clear in the presentation. In the early days attention was primarily focused on improvements in the technological aspects of aeroplanes, and the interior had a subordinate role. As time passed air travel increasingly came to be dominated by the idea of luxury. Presently the aeroplane is a popular means of transport and, in part because of the prices offered by many low-cost airlines, it draws a much wider segment of the population. The design of seating that take up still less room but is still comfortable, fire-retardant upholstery fabrics, and plates and cups that are ultra-light and stackable are all important starting points for the design process. After decades in which the appearance of aeroplanes hardly changed at all, with the invention of the ‘blended wing body’ (a delta-shaped aeroplane) it now appears that something is finally going to change. In addition to more space for passengers, its other great advantage is its lower fuel consumption. In this era of fierce competition, the corporate identity of a company, which is expressed in all sorts of ways from advertising to stewardess’s uniforms, is also a very important aspect for designers. Famous designers, whose work in many cases is included in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum, are represented here with their designs. They include Otl Aicher, Luigi Colani, Andries Copier, Charles & Ray Eames, Ralph Lauren, Raymond Loewy, Ross Lovegrove, Gerrit Rietveld, Eero Saarinen and Tapio Wirkkala.

Special in Stedelijk Museum CS
A number of historic posters from airline companies from the collection of the Stedelijk Museum have been included in the exhibition. The presentation in Amsterdam also pauses to look at Dutch designers who played a role in the development of design for air travel. For instance, attention is given to the signposting system by Benno Wissing and the interior design by Kho Liang Ie which were developed for Schiphol in the 1960s, and a maquette shows the future of this Airport City (the whole of the terminals, WTC, hotels, office buildings, etc.) as conceived by Benthem Crouwel and NACO. That flying still appeals to the imagination is clear from the fact that the Fokker F.27 was recently chosen the Best Dutch Design of the past century, and that the Concorde won the Great British Design Quest for design since 1900. These designs are also dealt with in the exhibition.

There are also two presentations of uniforms for stewards and stewardesses to be seen, through the cooperation of Jelleke Oeberius Kapteijn and students and former students at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Oeberius Kapteijn’s 2004 project Ode to the Stewardess’s Uniform is being shown. In this photo series we see the perfect stewardess – one model, in exactly the same pose, but in the uniforms of various airlines each time. Here the visualisation of a myth and the collision of identity and uniformity take on life-size form. And a design contest for students and former students at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy was organised especially for Airworld, for a steward’s or stewardess’s uniform for the future. During the opening a fashion show of the clothing will be presented, and the winning design announced by the jury. The jury is comprised of Milou van Rossum (fashion writer for de Volkskrant), Aziz Bekkaoui (designer) and Ingeborg de Roode (chairwoman and curator at the Stedelijk Museum). During the exhibition, one of the winning designs will be worn by a host (or hostess) in the Museum.