Designing Transformation: Jews and Cultural Identity in Central European Modernism

International Symposium

University of Applied Arts Vienna, May 16-17, 2019
The International Symposium, “Designing Transformation: Jews and Cultural Identity in Central European Modernism,” offers a contemporary scholarly perspective on the role of Jews in shaping and coproducing public and private, as well as commercial and socially-oriented, architecture and design in Central Europe from the 1920s to the 1940s, and in the respective countries in which they settled after their forced emigration starting in the 1930s. It examines how modern identities evolved in the context of cultural transfers and migrations, commercial and professional networks, and in relation to conflicts between nationalist ideologies and international aspirations in Central Europe and beyond.
This symposium sheds new light on the importance of integrating Jews into Central European design and aesthetic history by asking symposium participants, including architectural historians and art historians, curators, archivists, and architects, to use their analyses to "design" - in the sense of reconfigure or reconstruct - the past and push forward a transformation in the historical consciousness of Central Europe. In doing so, the symposium points to the necessity of challenging the present political and cultural status quo, which prefers to suppress cultural differences in society, by projecting progressive and transformative "designs" that recognize the value of such differences for the future.

Concept and Organization: Dr. Elana Shapira
Dates: May 16-17, 2019
Venue: University of Applied Arts Vienna, Vordere Zollamtsstraße 7, 1030 Vienna, New Auditorium
Cooperation Partners: University of Brighton Design Archives, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art

Organized as part of the FWF (Austrian Science Fund) research project “Visionary Vienna: Design and Society 1918-1934”

Thursday May 16, 2019
09.00 Registration
10.00 Welcome
Alison J. Clarke (Chair, Design History and Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna)
Alexander Damianisch (Head, Support Art and Research, University of Applied Arts Vienna)
Rainald Franz (Head, EU-Projects, MAK- Austrian Museum of Applied Arts)
Elana Shapira (Organizer, University of Applied Arts Vienna)
10.30 Designing Homes in Central Europe
Moderator – Bernadette Reinhold (University of Applied Arts Vienna)
1) Christopher Long (University of Texas at Austin) – Refuge and Respite: The Wiener Wohnkultur and the Culture of the Modern Jewish Interior
2) Henrieta Moravcikova (Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava) – Shaping Modern Bratislava: The Role of Architect Friedrich Weinwurm and his Jewish Clients in Designing the Slovak Capital
11.30 Discussion and Break
12.00 New Aesthetics and the Question of Belonging
Moderator – Inge Podbrecky (Federal Monuments Authority Austria)
1) Celina Kress (Technical University Berlin) – Adolf Sommerfeld, Co-Producing Modern Architecture and Urban Design in Berlin
2) Zuzana Güllendi-Cimprichová (University of Bamberg) – An International Style Synagogue in Brno: Otto Eisler’s Synagogue Agudas Achim (1936) in the Context of Czech and European Modern Synagogues’ Design in the Interwar Period
13.00 Discussion
13.30 Lunch Break
14.30 Outsiders / Insiders – Redefining Cultural Frontiers
Moderator – Andreas Spiegl (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)
1) Juliet Kinchin (MoMA, New York) – Lajos Kozma, ‘Judapest’ and Central European Modernism
2) Rudolf Klein (St. Stephen University Budapest) – Modernism as the Aesthetics of Opposing Conservatism: Designing the New Leopold Town in Budapest in the 1930s
15.30 Discussion and Break
16.00 Plural Modernism(s) and the Transformation of Jewish Identities
Moderator – Sabine Bergler (Vienna’s Jewish Museum)
1) Jasna Galjer (University of Zagreb) – Three Generations of Jewish Architects and Modernism in Croatia
2) Kamila Twardowska (Jagiellonian University Krakow) – Reading the Biographies of Fryderyk Tadanier and Diana Reiter. Deliberations on the Role and Identity of Jewish Architects in Krakow in the Interwar Period
17.00 Discussion and Break

18.00 Keynote Lecture - Eve Blau (Harvard University) - So That They May Live the Cultural Life of Their Time: Loos’s Villa Khuner and Wiesner’s Villa Stiassni in the Expanded Field
Moderator – Monika Platzer (Architekturzentrum Wien)

Friday May 17, 2019
10.00 Architecture and Identity in Central Europe and Beyond
Moderator – Maximilian Hartmuth (University of Vienna)
1) Matthias Boeckl (University of Applied Arts Vienna) – A Modern Identity Fabrication Project: Josef Hoffmann’s Professional Networks
2) Or Aleksandrowicz (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa) – Climate, Health, and Nation Building: German-Speaking Immigrants and the Origins of Israeli Bioclimatic Building Design
11.00 Discussion and Break
11.30 Trauma and Design - Projecting Transformative Designs onto the Future
Moderator – Georg Spitaler (VGA – Austrian Labor History Society, Vienna)
1) Rosemarie Burgstaller (Historian and Curator) and Michael Zinganel (Architectural and Urban Historian) – Place/Space and Resistance: the Theresienstadt Ghetto
2) Sue Breakell (University of Brighton Design Archives) – ‘Memory’s instruments and its very medium’: the Archival Practices of Émigré Designers
12:30 Discussion
13.00 Lunch Break
14.00 Launching the Future: Design, Emigration and Cultural Renewal
Moderator – Sophie Lillie (Art Historian, Vienna)
1) Rebecca Houze (Northern Illinois University) – Cultural Exclusion and Creative Transformation: Anna Lesznai’s Embroidery Design
2) Lesley Whitworth (University of Brighton Design Archives) – Émigré Journeys, Transport Motifs, and the Iconography of Travel in the Work of Willy de Majo
15.00 Discussion and Break
15.30 Roundtable Discussion – Historiography and its Discontents: Jews and Cultural Identity in Central European Modernism
Moderator: Elana Shapira
Rainald Franz, Jasna Galjer, Rebecca Houze, Juliet Kinchin, Rudolf Klein, Celina Kress, and Ursula Prokop

Symposium will be held in English
The organizers reserve the right to alter the program without notice.

Free admission. Registration requested:

International Symposium - Designing Transformation: Jews and Cultural Identity in Central European Modernism