‘It is only by eliminating bad taste that we can recognize what good taste is’. With this statement of intent Gustav E. Pazaurek, director of the Stuttgart Museum of Arts and Crafts, opened a ‘Department of Lapses in Taste’ in 1909.
To this end he developed a complex system for categorizing all kinds of lapses in taste. Pazaurek was a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, an institution that believed objects had a strong influence on people, both in aesthetic as well as ethical and moral terms.
The Hofmobiliendepot • Möbel Museum/Imperial Furniture Collection in Vienna is exploring the question of good and bad taste in an exhibition developed by the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Berlin from 19 February to 6 July 2014. Some 50 objects from Pazaurek’s ‘Cabinet of Horrors’ together with about 100 objects of the Imperial Furniture Collection and other Viennese Museums will be juxtaposed with approximately 260 contemporary design objects, taking Pazaurek’s catalogue of mistakes as its point of departure in order to examine current design trends. Products of today, from mass-produced trash to designer artefact, will be subjected to this system of classification and exhibited alongside objects from the original displays.
These days it seems to be much harder to establish clear categories or boundaries between ‘good’ or ‘bad’ taste. It is not always immediately obvious when an object is in bad taste – this is more often to be located in the context of social or ecological factors. Pazaurek’s catalogue of lapses has thus been extended to express contemporary values.
An exhibition of Werkbund Archive – Museum of Things
Imke Volkers, Renate Flagmeier, Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin;
Ilsebill Barta, Markus Laumann, Hofmobiliendepot • Möbel Museum Wien