In 1953, when the doors of the "Sonderschau formgerechter
Industrieerzeugnisse" opened for the very first time in Haus 8 on the
grounds of the Hannover Messe, it marked the beginning of a success
story that has lasted for over fifty years, and is characterized by a
unique interrelation of the history of trade exhibitions and design
At this time of economic boom, there was an air of departure not only in industry and the trade fair business but also among those who, in the young Federal Republic of Germany, tried to introduce new, contemporary design. In 1951, by way of a parliamentary resolution, it was decided to establish the "Rat fuer Formgebung", which started operating in 1953 in Darmstadt. 1952 saw the inception of both the "Institut fuer Neue Technische Form" in Darmstadt and the "Zentralstelle zur Foerderung deutscher Wertarbeit e.V. in Hannover". The latter became the support body for the annual "special show" at the Hannover Messe. Among the initiators for the "special show" were several well-known personalities from culture and industry such as the engineer Karl Otto, director of the Werkkunstschule Hannover; Gotthold Schneider, director of the Institut fuer Neue Technische Form; Dr. Guenther Freiherr von Pechmann, chair of the project group for industrial design at the Federation of German Industries (BDI); the industry leaders Guenter Fuchs, director of Summa-Feuerungen and Dr. Carl Hundhausen, director of Krupp-Widiafabrik, and Prof. Dr. Eugen Moessner, chairman of the Hannover Messe.
Right from the start, the Special Shows attracted a large audience and became a showcase for particularly successful design in all the branches of industry that participated in the Hannover Messe. In 1955 a special building had to be erected to house the show. It soon became clear that documenting these shows was crucial in supporting good industrial design within the context of a large export-oriented trade fair. The first small, black-and-white brochure was published in 1956 and documented the 246 award-winning contributions, from filigree glass tableware to heavy machinery. VIPs from political life such as the German President Heuss and the Minister of Economic Affairs Erhard came to see the shows. In 1959 the exhibition was renamed "Die gute Industrieform" (The good industrial form).
From a special show of well-designed industrial goods at the Hannover Messe to one of the most important international design institutions: this development would not have been possible without the sustained support of a trade fair company that sees itself as a think tank of innovation and constant change. The fact that an institution such as iF is located at one of the largest exhibition grounds in the world, and thus in direct proximity to the pulse of international industries, has been both unique and seminal.
Left hand side pictures (top to bottom)
German edition of Raymond Loewy's 'Never leave well enough alone', 1953
Ludwig Erhard, German federal minister of economics, visits the fair.
Picture 3 - 4:
Award-winning products, 1953-1954