Émigré Design Culture: Histories of the Social in Design

This international symposium examines the significance of Austrian and Central European émigré and exile architects/designers in promoting a progressive culture of debate in the USA, around the needs of society and strategies for social inclusion. The culture of the social in design that emerged in the US from the 1920s to the 1960s was defined by collaboration. The symposium is the first to address the pivotal role played by émigré and exile networks in New York, Boston, Chicago, Aspen, and L.A., in shaping a new social agenda within design.
Cutting-edge research brings to the fore the ways in which architects and designers utilised their Viennese and European schooling to confront political realities of World War II and beyond. The lessons adapted by prominent figures such as Josef Frank, Richard Neutra, Frederick Kiesler, Eva Zeisel, Bernard Rudofsky and Victor Papanek prompt the revisiting of discussions that originated on Vienna’s famous Ringstrasse; illuminating design’s role in the creation of progressive social communities.

Leading scholars in the fields of architectural and design history, cultural history and anthropology consider the critical contribution of émigrés and exiles in forming new humanistic directions in design. This historical appraisal opens a new forum in which to debate the role of the social in design and its relevance for today’s global perspective.

Venue: Angewandte Exhibition Centre Heiligenkreuzer Hof, Schönlaterngasse 5, 1010, Vienna Austria.
Convened & Curated by: Dr. Elana Shapira
Directed by: Prof. Dr. Alison J. Clarke
Supported by: Bryleigh Morsink
Organised as part of the FWF (Austrian Science Fund) research project award ‘Émigré Cultural Networks and the Founding of Social Design’, Department of Design History & Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Public event, free of charge. The Lecture and Symposium are conducted in English.


27 May 2015
9.00-10:00 Registration

10:00-10.30 Welcome

Session 1 Reconsidering the Viennese Heritage
Chair, Monika Platzer

Architekturzentrum Wien

Christopher Long

University of Texas at Austin, USA

Josef Frank and Paul T. Frankl:
Two Tales of the Wiener Moderne Abroad

11.00-11.30 Oliver Kühschelm
University of Vienna, Austria

(Mis)understanding Consumption:
Consumer Experts and the Austro Fascist Regime

11.30- 12.00 Barnaby Haran
University of Hull, UK

Shaping the Mass Mind:
Frederick Kiesler and Edward Bernays in New York in the 1920s

12.00-12.30 Discussion

Lunch break

14:00-16.00 Session 2
Émigré and Exile Culture: Psychology and the Politics of Inclusion

Chair: Todd Cronan
Emory University, USA

14.00-14.30 Christopher Burke
University of Reading, UK

Otto & Marie Neurath:
The ‘Vienna Method’ in Exile

Ruth Hanisch

Independent Architectural and Design Historian, Germany

Freud’s Armchair:
Felix Augenfeld and the Psychoanalysis Movement in Vienna and New York

Pat Kirkham

Bard Graduate Center, USA

Eva Zeisel’s Vienna, Budapest, New York:
Wanderlust, Imprisonment, Exile and Emigration


Papanek Lecture 2015

18.00-19:00 Lecture
Felicity D. Scott
Planetary and Interplanetary Housekeeping

19:00-20.00 Reception

Papanek Symposium 2015

28 May 2015
Session 3

Émigré and Exile Networks: Designing a Better Society?

Chair: Christopher Long
University of Texas at Austin, USA

Robin Schuldenfrei

The Courtauld Institute of Art, UK

László Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer and the Social Usefulness of Art

Anna Vallye

Washington University in St.Louis, USA

Educating the Citizen’s Mind: György Kepes at MIT


Elana Shapira

University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria

The Question of Gender: Kiesler, Rudofsky, Papanek and Surrealism

12.00- 12.30 Monica Penick
University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Paul László and the Atomic Future


Lunch Break

Session 4

Émigrés and Exiles and the Global Turn

Chair: Gerd Zillner
Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation

Felicity D. Scott

Columbia University, USA

Bernard Rudofsky and Architecture without Architects

Todd Cronan

Emory University, USA

Schindler vs. Neutra or Architecture at the End of History


15.30- 16.30 Roundtable Discussion
Chairs: Elana Shapira & Alison Clarke

Ruptures and Continuities – Émigrés and Exiles and the Social in Design


Christopher Burke is a typographer, typeface designer and design historian. He is Research Fellow at the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading, UK. He is the author of Paul Renner: the art of typography (Princeton Architectural Press, 1998) and Active literature: Jan Tschichold and New Typography (Hyphen Press, 2007). In 2010 Burke co-curated the exhibition ‘Isotype: international picture language’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and co-edited Otto Neurath’s ‘visual autobiography’. He wrote several essays on Neurath’s work in Isotype: design and contexts, 1925–1971 (2013).

Alison J. Clarke, Professor of Design History and Director, Papanek Foundation at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, is principal investigator on ‘Émigré Cultural Networks & the Founding of Social Design’, an Austrian Science Fund (FWF) major research project. Author of Design Anthropology: Object Culture in the 21st Century and Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America, she is currently completing a manuscript Designer for the Real World: Victor Papanek and 1970s Design Activism for MIT Press.

Todd Cronan is Associate Professor of art history at Emory University. He is the author of Against Affective Formalism: Matisse, Bergson, Modernism (University of Minnesota Press, 2014); Matisse for Phaidon; and articles on Brecht, Adorno, Merleau-Ponty, Santayana, Georg Simmel, Paul Valéry, and Richard Neutra. He is a regular reviewer for Radical Philosophy and editor in chief of nonsite.org. He is currently at work on two book projects, Seeing Photographically: Photographic Ontology and the Problem of Audience and (with Judith Sheine) Modernism at the Edge of the World: The Architecture of R. M. Schindler and Richard Neutra.

Ruth Hanisch is an independent Architectural and Design Historian based in Dortmund. She is an expert on Felix Augenfeld and the Wiener Moderne. She contributed to the exhibition project „Visionäre und Vertriebene. Österreichische Wurzeln in der modernen amerikanischen Architektur“(1995). Her varied essays on Viennese Modern architecture and design, include „Psychoanalytische Verbindungen und kunstgewerbliche Verwicklungen: Das ‚Wiener Wohnen’ im New Yorker Exil,“ [Psychoanalytical Connections and Applied Arts Entanglements: The exiled Viennese School of Architecture in New York] in: Netzwerke des Exils: Künstlerische Verflechtungen, Austausch und Patronage nach 1933 (2011).

Barnaby Haran is a Lecturer in American Arts in the Department of American Studies at University of Hull. His doctoral thesis at University College London considers American and Soviet cultural relationships in the 1920s and 1930s and his forthcoming monograph is titled Watching the Red Dawn: The American Avant-Garde and the Soviet Union, 1922-33 (Manchester University Press, 2016). Author of several articles on photography and film in the interwar years, Haran’s most recent essay is “Magic Windows: Frederick Kiesler’s Displays for Saks Fifth Avenue“ in: Sculpture and the Vitrine (2013). He co-edited, with Warren Carter and Frederic J. Schwartz, Re/ New Marxist Art History.

Pat Kirkham, Professor at the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, New York City, is an award winning author and editor of several books on design, film and gender. They include Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century (MIT Press, 1995), Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference (Yale University Press, 2000), Saul Bass; A Life in Design and Film (2011), and Eva Zeisel (2013). Pat will speak about Eva Zeisel with whom she was friends from 1999 until Eva’s death in 2011.

Oliver Kühschelm is postdoctoral-assistant at the Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Vienna. He studied history, philosophy, Spanish, and Russian at the University of Vienna and received his doctorate in 2003, where his research focused on Austrian emigrants in Argentina and Uruguay. His current research focuses on the history of advertising and consumption. He is working on a habilitation dissertation about buy-national campaigns in Austria, Switzerland and Great Britain. Recent edited books: Konsum und Nation [Consumption and the nation] (2012), with Franz X. Eder and Hannes Siegrist; Bilder in historischen Diskursen [images in historical discourses] (2014), with Franz X. Eder and Christina Linsboth; Geld­ Markt Akteure [Money Market Actors] (2015).

Christopher Long is professor of architectural and design history at the University of Texas at Austin. He studied at the universities of Graz, Vienna, and Munich and received his doctorate at the University of Texas in 1993. In 1994-1995, he taught at the Central European University in Prague. He is the author of Josef Frank: Life and Work (University of Chicago Press, 2002), Paul T. Frankl and Modern American Design (Yale University Press, 2007), The Looshaus (Yale University Press, 2012), Josef Frank: Schriften / Writings (2012, edited with Tano Bojankin and Iris Meder), Kem Weber: Designer and Architect ( Yale University Press, 2014), and Der Fall Loos (Amalthea Signum Verlag, 2015).

Monica Penick received her doctorate in architectural history from the University of Texas at Austin, with expertise in American architecture, interior design and decorative arts. She is an Assistant Professor in Design Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With Vladimir Kulic and Timothy Parker, she co-edited Sanctioning Modernism: Architecture and Making of Postwar Identities (2012). Her forthcoming book is titled Tastemaker: Elizabeth Gordon, House Beautiful, and the Postwar American Home. Penick’s work has been supported by fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / ACLS, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.

Monika Platzer is curator for archives and collection at the Architekturzentrum Wien (AzW). She curated together with Wim de Wit the exhibition “Lessons from Bernard Rudofsky”, and edited the accompanying publication. Monika Platzer further curated together with Eve Blau and Dieter Bogner the exhibition “Shaping the Great City, Modern Architecture in Central Europe 1890-1937”. She has published extensively on Kinetism, the Viennese avant-garde movement of the 1920s. Her current exhibition curated with Ingrid Holzschuh “»Vienna. The Pearl of the Reich« Planning for Hitler” is on display at the AzW.

Robin Schuldenfrei is Lecturer in 20th Century Modernism at The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. Recent publications include “Capital Dwelling: Industrial Capitalism, Financial Crisis and the Bauhaus’s Haus am Horn” in Architecture and Capitalism, edited by Peggy Deamer (2013), the edited volume Atomic Dwelling: Anxiety, Domesticity, and Postwar Architecture (2012) and the co-edited volume Bauhaus Construct: Fashioning Identity, Discourse, and Modernism (2009). Current projects include a full-length study of luxury and modernism in architecture and design in early twentieth-century Germany and, concurrently, a book focusing on objects in exile, World War II and the displacement of design.

Felicity D. Scott is a faculty member at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she also acts as director of the PhD program and co-director of the program in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP). In addition to numerous articles on contemporary art and architecture, she is the author of Architecture or Techno-Utopia: Politics after Modernism (MIT, 2007), Living Archive 7: Ant Farm (ACTAR Editorial, 2008), and Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counter-Insurgency, forthcoming on Zone Books. She was also a founding co-editor of Grey Room, a quarterly journal about architecture, art, media and politics published by MIT Press since 2000.

Elana Shapira is the curator and convener of Émigré Design Culture: Histories of the Social in Design, the Papanek Foundation 2015 symposium. A lecturer in the Design History and Theory Department at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and Senior Researcher in the FWF funded research project ‘Émigré Cultural Networks & the Founding of Social Design’, she has published widely on Austrian modern art and architecture as well as on Jewish patronage in Vienna. Her publications include: “Jewish Identity, Mass Consumption and Modern Design,” in: Longing, Belonging, and the Making of Jewish Consumer Culture (2010); and her forthcoming book is titled Style and Seduction: Jewish Patrons and Modern Architecture and Design in Fin de Siècle Vienna (Brandeis University Press, 2016).

Anna Vallye is Postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Arts and Sciences and the Sam Fox School of Design and the Visual Arts at Washington University in St.Louis. Her research orbits around the middle of the twentieth century in the United States and Western Europe, and explores the intersections of architecture and design with the reciprocal politics of knowledge production and state governance. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University. Her publications include “The Strategic Universality of trans/formation, 1950-1952” Grey Room, nr. 35 (2009). Previously, she was Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she curated the interdisciplinary exhibition Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis (Philadelphia: Fall 2013; Museo Correr, Venice, Italy: Spring 2014).

Gerd Zillner is archive manager, senior researcher and curator at the Frederick Kiesler Foundation, Austria. He studied Art History, Archaeology and History in Vienna. Zillner worked as an archivist documentarist and librarian in the University of Vienna, MUMOK Vienna, and in the Archdiocese of Vienna. He further participated in the European Commission funded research project “vector – EUROPEAN CONTEMPORARY ART ARCHIVES” and was head of documentation at “basis wien.” He is currently working with Spyros Papapetros (University of Princeton) on a critical edition of Frederick Kiesler’s unpublished book “Magic Architecture.”

Images ©Papanek Foundation

Victor Papanek Foundation
University of Applied Arts Vienna
Oskar Kokoschka Platz 2
1010 Vienna, Austria