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Exclusive Hanging Chair For Your Garden - DigsDigs Search for: BEGIN TYPING YOUR SEARCH ABOVE AND PRESS RETURN TO SEARCH. Jana Scholze is Curator of Modern Furniture and Product Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London where she has worked on two major exhibitions, including Cold War Modern: Design 1945-1970 (2008). You may not have thought of including a gift to a museum in your will, but the V&A is a charity and legacies form an important source of funding for our work. As people who spent the greater part of their lives in either East or West Germany rapidly pass away, age, or displace memories of this era with events of the intervening period, historians have the urgent task of supporting this endeavor: they must collect eyewitness testimony and preserve the material culture of these former nations and times—and especially of the former GDR—along with written documentation and other types of historical evidence, before it slips away. Legacies of all sizes, large and small, make a real difference to what we can do and your support can help ensure that future generations enjoy the V&A as much as you have. Here’s an exclusive hanging chair for garden, patio or indoors – genuine “thinking pod”. He was responsible for setting up the Design department, developing model polyurethane products. They not only work to preserve historical evidence, but they also convey specific interpretations of certain aspects of history, usually to a broader public, thus forming a central component in public debates about that history. To be sure, museums deal with a wide range of types of historical evidence, but they are perhaps the most significant sites for the preservation of material culture. The design incorporates features typical of the period: a space age look , UFO-like form, bright coloured plastic laquer, portability and the informal lounging quality of the low seat.
Whereas eyewitness testimony is subject to the changing condition of personal memory, material objects appear to be rather solid and immutable windows onto the past. The hanging basalt fiber chair undoubtedly becomes a central interior object in the garden or indoors. Behind the story of the chair's mass production also lies a fascinating tale of east-west relations. Yet, in order to view that past through them, curators must follow the trails that objects leave behind—in the case of furniture, for example, via documentation of the design process, production specifications, and contexts of use and display; but also via personal memories, such as reports by or interviews with designers, production managers, and owners of the piece.
The company in Lemforde produced only a couple of chairs while testing the new material polyurethane. Interviews, in particular, are naturally as subject to problems of memory as eyewitness testimony. However, the company decided to mass produce the chair in East Germany as the production was much cheaper there.
Nonetheless, the objects as such remain unchanged, presenting a cultural palimpsest of the attitudes toward and uses of the objects.

Although such a decision was not unique, officially industrial exchange between capitalist West Germany and socialist East Germany was not acknowledged. The rather complex trails objects leave can not only uncover detailed accounts of the history of the object but can help us to better understand the social, cultural, economic, and political context of their time. Touted by the lead curators, Jane Pavitt and David Crowley, as “the first exhibition to explore international developments in modern art, design, architecture and film in the context of the Cold War,” 1 the project brought together over three hundred items presenting art and design from the immediate postwar period through the space race and the youthful rebellions in Paris and Prague in 1968. One significant theme—and the one that the Garden Egg Chair was a part of—was the application of Cold War technologies in architecture and design to create visions of the future, inspired by the space race, that captured the sense of ideological rivalry between East and West.
I was born in the German Democratic Republic, studied in Leipzig and Berlin, and also worked for various German collections before taking up my current position at the Victoria and Albert Museum, working specifically on German design history. This background, combined with the experience of working on this groundbreaking exhibition—and the task of accessioning the Garden Egg Chair, in particular—gave me insight into the unique problems that curators “collecting the GDR” face, and how these problems differ inside and outside of Germany. Moreover, the exhibition highlighted how important material objects are in piecing together history.
As the specific story of the Garden Egg Chair will show, objects help us to uncover new, quality information that provides for more nuanced and integrated historical narratives and helps people—and in this case, especially Germans—understand the past. Shifting narratives of history One reason Germans in particular find it so difficult to come to terms with the Cold War past is that, for a long time, only conflicting and fairly simplistic master narratives of the period existed. Citizens raised in the GDR were presented with a historical master narrative authorized by the ruling Socialist Unity Party, or SED.
Embodied by the Old Communists who had led an antifascist struggle under Hitler, the “official memory” of the GDR, which the SED encouraged Old Communists to write in their memoirs, was intended to legitimate the regime.2 At the same time, critical alternative and unofficial voices—primarily oral rather than written—contested this master narrative in the East. After reunification, a crucial question that both Germans and international historians have had to address, then, is which versions of history to accept and convey.
Is there any truth to the master narrative, and what details of the “official memory” should not be dismissed?
Of course, the answers to these questions are rather complex and can often only be found for particular cases.
In the West, on the other hand, the master narrative revolved—and to a great extent still does—around the superiority of the Western way of doing things and the corruption and bankruptcy of the communist system.
In the long process of reunification, East Germans, especially, often assumed that Western historians would be more trustworthy and impartial in their judgments of East German history because of their “proper” education. Others, however, doubted whether Western scholars would be able to interpret the East German past precisely because they lacked direct experience of it. Tangerine and yellow version of the Garden Egg Chair from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Cold War Modern exhibition. Yet these new versions and the sheer numbers of Garden Egg Chairs available point to the first fundamental issue curators have to address when they seek to obtain an object for a collection: authenticity. How do we know that a particular object is an original or early example (which museums generally prefer) rather than a later imitation?

As knock-off reproductions of the chair have been found as far afield as China, Thailand, and South America, what information can we use to verify its genuineness? In essence, one has to rely on whatever information is available and also seek out information in an act of piecing things together through archival materials and oral history, using consistency of information and discernment to evaluate the reliability of the information thus gathered. In this particular case, as there was not a lot of information about the Garden Egg Chair available, I looked where the chairs originated. Surprisingly, given the chair’s popularity, hardly any scholar had contacted or spoken to him about it before. 6  Ghyczy was a Hungarian emigreto West Germany who, after studying architecture, became the chief designer at the polyurethane factory Elastogran GmbH in Lemforde, West Germany, where he was responsible for developing a design department for polyurethane products. Contacting him proved to be beneficial: He was, foremost, able to point us to an early example of the chair with an interesting provenance.
The daughter of Gottfried Reuter, who owned Elastogran GmbH, possessed the particular chair we selected, having used it by a swimming pool. Moreover, Ghyczy provided us with a lot of pertinent information that prompted further searching, ultimately leading us to uncover new trails to follow.
The Garden Egg Chair was one of his very first designs, which he had developed to inspire clients and stimulate ideas as the material, polyurethane, was new and its possible applications were seemingly limitless. He also told us that the Lemforde factory only produced a couple of prototypes of the chair in testing the new material.
He had never been in touch with the East German production company, VEB Synthesewerk-Schwarzheide, nor had the company contacted him despite changing the design for its own production needs. In addition, Ghyczy never sold the rights for his design, nor was he ever paid any royalties from East Germany, and he only had a vague idea of how many chairs were ever produced. Although our particular chair turned out to be a prototype from the Lemforde factory, we did not immediately know this but had to dig deeper, following the trail to East Germany. From the start, one of the motivations for the research was the confusing provenance of Garden Egg Chairs as some were marked as being manufactured in Lemforde (former West Germany), whereas others were marked as being made in Schwarzheide (former East Germany). This points to a second, basic issue curators have to deal with: discovering information about an item’s provenance and collating as many details about it, including who produced and used it and in what circumstances. An appointment at the archive of the former East German company led to an interview with the former general director of the VEB Synthesewerk-Schwarzheide, Dr. Hans-Joachim Jeschke.9 Together with documents in the company archive, Jeschke revealed the exact dates of production, which began later in East Germany than this label indicated. Accordingly, the chair was one of the few prototypes made in Lemforde, and the label marked the end of a certain testing process there.

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