JUST ON TIME – Design Stories About Latvia

  • 2018-11-21
  • LNMA/TBT Staff

A Latvian centenary exhibition, JUST ON TIME. Design Stories About Latvia, will be on view at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Riga (Skārņu iela 10) from 22 November 2018 to 27 January 2019.

Through traces of material culture, the exhibition will tell about Latvian society in several periods of history. How did the Latvian sensibility come about, what role did design play in it? What were the discussions about the beautiful and the contemporary in different years, about the boundaries of design and art? How does design change alongside fluctuations in prosperity? What are the trends under which new design movements have come into being?

Design strives to be contemporary – the ideas proposed by designers often come as an answer to a functional problem, a need or a consumer desire. A successful design solution is inextricably linked with the technologies and aesthetic perceptions of the day thus embodying the values and daily life of the society at large. In their day, Ansis Cīrulis and Jūlijs Madernieks were just on time with textiles and furniture ensembles, as well as Baltars workshop, and the most outstanding examples of book publications of the 1930s (Zelta ābele), Minox, VEF. Spīdola, the design of the Riga Porcelain Factory in the 1960s, the Riga school of poster, Zaiga and Māris Gailis’ Mēbeles jauniem cilvēkiem [Furniture for Young People].

The exhibition JUST ON TIME. Design Stories About Latvia will look back at the 100 years since the establishment of Latvia, over which design gradually became an independent discipline, detaching from art, architecture, craft, and industry. This exposition will not be a chronological story about achievements across the centenary – the episodes in the history of design will be arranged by a search for common themes and points of departure in the work of designers of different generations.

Along with design objects, the exhibition will include videos, photographs and other records that reveal the contexts in which these objects were created and used. The project is made using the collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, National History Museum of Latvia, Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, VEF History Museum, Riga Motor Museum, Laima Chocolate Museum, National Archives of Latvia, Latvia State Archive of Audiovisual Documents, National Library of Latvia and other memory institutions.

The exhibition is accompanied by an anthology with the same title offering scholarly articles about important pages in the history of Latvian design from the 1930s to nowadays. The book is telling about the heritage of Jūlijs Madernieks, the Army Economy Store as the most modern in the Baltic States in the 1930s, about the plywood aeroplanes built by Kārlis Irbītis, the graphic identity of the VEF factory, about Arturs Riņķis’ kinetic art object Sakta [Broach] etc. The second part of the catalogue includes interviews with prominent persons, eyewitnesses of the epoch – Džemma Skulme, Beatrise Kārkliņa, Jānis Borgs, Laimonis Šēnbergs, Zaiga Gaile, Ingūna Elere, and Jānis Godiņš. Compilers of the anthology are Kristīne Budže and Inese Baranovska, the authors of articles and interviews are Inese Baranovska, Anda Boluža, Kristīne Budže, Ilze Martinsone, Rūta Rinka, Yelena Solovyova, Iliana Veinberga, Vents Vīnbergs, Zanda Zībiņa.