Design and Politics
The Public Promotion of Industrial Design in Postwar Belgium (1950–1986)
In the postwar era, design became important as a marker of modernity and progress at world fairs and international exhibitions and in the global markets. The Belgian state took a special interest in this vanguard phenomenon of ‘industrial design’ as a vital political and economic strategic tool in the context of the Cold War and the creation of the European community. This book describes the unique position that design occupied in the political context of postwar Belgium as it analyses the public promotion of design between 1950 and 1986. It traces this process, from the first government-backed manifestations and institutions in the 1950s through the 1960s and 1970s, until design lost its privileged position as a state-backed institution, a process which culminated in the closure of the Brussels Design Centre in 1986, in the midst of the Belgian federalization process. A key figure in this history is the policymaker Josine des Cressonnières, who played a leading role in the national and international design community and succeeded in connecting very different political worlds through the medium of design.
Katarina Serulus is fellow researcher at the Faculty of Architecture at KU Leuven.