Article - Open Access.

Idioma principal

Take up Position: Defining Industrial Design in Postwar Belgium (1954-1970)

Serulus, Katarina;


Countless definitions of design have been formulated throughout history, and they have often been subject of much controversy, revealing consciously or unconsciously, a specific agenda or certain convictions. This paper examines how ‘design’ was understood when this term took root in Belgium and was appropriated by official circles in the postwar area. It tracks the search of state-related design institutions for an adequate definition and outlines their positioning in design networks. This paper then argues that the institutional foundations of Belgian design in the economic and industrial sector of the 1950s continued to influence its official understanding until the 1970s. However, influenced by international tendencies, the official design bodies struggled to break design loose of its economic base and get it recognized as a cultural and social phenomenon by the Belgian government. This paper draws on newly found archival records, adding new insights to existing accounts on Belgian design policies.1 By examining the state-backed definition, this paper is not so much interested in the etymology of the English term ‘design’, but rather on how the Belgian state accentuates certain aspects of this concept in their policy shaping certain understandings of design.2 In sum, this casus wants to provide an entry to map different processes that were important in postwar Belgium: (a) the role of the institutional framework in the formation of definitions and understandings of design, (b) the interaction between the discipline of design and the process of design institutionalization and (c) the influence of transnational and global networks in the creation of national design cultures.


Palavras-chave: postwar design, definition industrial design, Belgium, design centre, design policies,


DOI: 10.5151/despro-icdhs2014-0083

Referências bibliográficas
  • [1] Bekker, Ludo, and Kaat Dutreeuw. 1974. 10 jaar Design Center. In Kortweg: VRT (Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie).
  • [2] Bucqoye, Monique, Lieven Daenens, and Mil De Kooning. 2001. Forms from Flanders. From Henry van de Velde t.o. Maarten van Severen 1900-2000. Gent/Amsterdam: Ludion.
  • [3] Coirier, Lise. 2004. Design en Belgique/in Belgium/ in België 1945-2000. Brussels: Racine.
  • [4] Crowley, David, and Jane Pavitt. 2008. Cold War Modern. Design 1945-1970. London: VAndamp;A Publishing.
  • [5] “Een Design Centre te Brussel.” 1963. Informatieblad van het Instituut voor Industriële Vormgeving no. 6 (2):9-10.
  • [6] Fallan, Kjetil. 2007. “How an Excavator Got Aesthetic Pretentions - Negotiating Design in 1960s’ Norway.” Journal of Design History no. 20 (1):43-59.
  • [7] Floré, Fredie. 2010. Lessen in goed wonen. Woonvoorlichting in België 1945-1958. Leuven: Universitaire Pers Leuven.
  • [8] Fujita, Haruhiko. 2007-2009. Words for Design. Comparative Etymology and Terminology of Design and Its Equivalents. The First Step Towards a Full Collection of Words for Design from All over the World. 3 vols.
  • [9] Gimeno-Martínez, Javier. 2007. “Selling Avant-garde: How Antwerp Became a Fashion Capital (1990-2002).” Urban Studies no. 44 (12):2449-2464.
  • [10] ———. 2010a. “Industrial Design in the Museum. The Case of the FN Milking Machine (ca. 1947).” The Burlington Magazine no. 152 (1290):603-608.
  • [11] ———. 2010b. “The Signe d’Or Award Scheme from 1956 to 1960: The Economic Reasons for “Good Design”.” Konsthistorisk Tikskrift / Journal of Art History no. 79 (3):127-145.
  • [12] ———. 2011. “Redefining Social Design in 1970s Belgium: Affordable Design vs. Elite Design.” Interiors no. 2 (2):149-168.
  • [13] “Het Instituut voor Industriële Vormgeving.” 1957. Berichten van het Insituut voor Industriële Vormgeving (1).
  • [14] Le Boeuf, Jocelyne. 2006. “Jacques Viénot and the “Esthétique Industrielle” in France (1920-1960).” Design Issues no. 22 (1):46-63.
  • [15] Maldonado, Tomas. 1962. “Comments. From Homer to Raymond Loewy.” Ulm (6):26-27.
  • [16] Provost, Pol. 1959. “Bedrijfsleiding en Industriële Vormgeving.” In Industriële Vormgeving (1957-1958), edited by Stichting Lodewijk De Raet, 55-68. Brussels: Stichting Lodewijk De Raet.
  • [17] ———. 1969. “Industriële vormgeving is ieders zaak.” Het Laatste Nieuws, 21/02/1969.
  • [18] Thompson, Christopher. 2011. “Modernizing for Trade: Institutionalizing Design Promotion in New Zealand.” Journal of Design History no. 24 (3):223-239.
  • [19] Van der Schueren, Jacques. 1959. “Boodschap van M.J. Van der Schueren.” Supplément à L’Echo de la Bourse, 9 September, I.
  • [20] Woodham, Jonathan. 2010. “Formulating National Design Policies in the United States: Recycling the “Emperor’s New Clothes”?” Design Issues no. 26 (2):27-46.
  • [21] Yagou, Artemis. 2005. “Unwanted Innovation. The Athens Design Centre (1961-1963).” Journal of Design History no. 18 (3):269-283.
Como citar:

Serulus, Katarina; "Take up Position: Defining Industrial Design in Postwar Belgium (1954-1970)", p. 575-580 . In: Tradition, Transition, Tragectories: major or minor influences? [=ICDHS 2014 - 9th Conference of the International Committee for Design History and Design Studies]. São Paulo: Blucher, 2014.
ISSN 2318-6968, DOI 10.5151/despro-icdhs2014-0083

últimos 30 dias | último ano | desde a publicação