The six sequences of ADAM’s collection, part 3: The Capsule, the Conquest of Space Takes Form

In a six-part series published on our website every two months, we take a detailed look at the design collection housed in ADAM – Brussels Design Museum through the time-stamped sequences it uses in order to provide a more linear reading of its extensive selection, spawning mid-century innovations to current day creations. For the third instalment, exhibitions director Arnaud Bozzini discusses the Capsule and the Cold War legacy of the sociopolitical ideological war on space and place, and how “futuristic” plastics grabbed the collective imaginations of East and West.

ADAM – Brussels Design Museum’s brand new temporary exhibition The Paper Revolution: Soviet graphic design and constructivism (1920-1930’s) will be on display till the 8th of October – not to be missed.

The third sequence in our permanent exhibition explores another side of this plastic utopia in the Golden Sixties. The curatorial team wanted to showcase how, during the 1960s, the attraction between design and science, fiction & science-fiction became ever more pervasive and creatively stimulating. The tangible prospects of a man walking on the moon occupied everyone’s minds and lives.

Claude Vidili, Sphère d’isolement S2, 1970

Exploiting the potential of plastic now went beyond celebrating science and progress, beyond making them comprehensible and useful – as was the case in the 1920s. It now became about creating a living environment that suggested and heralded an intergalactic voyage. During the height of the Cold War, everyone felt a stake in the battle between the East and West to conquer space: everyone could play their part and anticipate victory in their living rooms.

Cesare Leonardi & Franca Stagi, Dondolo, 1969

The tangible prospects of a man walking on the moon occupied everyone’s minds and lives.

This is reflected in the décor of the film Barbarella (1968), which recounted the “sex-ploits” of its heroine in her bid to save planet Earth, and again in the troubling and mysterious 2001, Space Odyssey (1968), where cosmonauts’ helmets, space capsules and so on were everywhere to be seen. The same objects start to appear as everyday items in the home, such as TV sets, radios, chairs, etc. One of our most striking pieces, the Boomerang Desk, designed by the French artist and designer Maurice Calka, was bought by the French President George Pompidou to refurnish the Palais de l’Elysée – but it also looks like it comes straight out of a French comedy of the seventies.

Maurice Calka, P.D.G., 1969

The same objects start to appear as everyday items in the home, such as TV sets, radios, chairs, etc.

ADAM – Brussels Design Museum’s brand new temporary exhibition The Paper Revolution: Soviet graphic design and constructivism (1920-1930’s) will be on display till the 8th of October.