Bowler Hat Dialogues - Design and Circumstance

Jüri Kermik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


Paper presented as part of the symposium ‘Czech Design – Independent, Free and Democratic?’, 20 January 2012, Sallis Benney Theatre, Grand Parade, Brighton. The scene for the symposium programme was set by Jonathan Woodham, Professor of Design History at the University of Brighton, with a brief introduction to the history of Czechoslovakian design from the national revival years of the early twentieth century leading up to the establishment of the first Czechoslovakian Republic in 1918 through to the period of Communist rule and the tensions that culminated in the Velvet Revolution and the establishment of the Czech Republic in 1993. Researchers contributing to the international programme included: Sylva Petrova, Professor of Glass at the University of Sunderland: “The Interminable Lightness of Being“ – A Curator’s Professional experience and Choice; Jirí Pelcl, Professor of Architecture and Design at the Prague Academy of Art, Architecture and Design: The Incredible Lightness of Being – Czech Design; Dagmar Koudelková, Lecturer in history of design and life style at the Philosophical Faculty, Masaryk University in Brno (Institute of Musicology): Jiří Pelcl: from Atika to the present days: Transformations of Czech Design in relation to the work of Jiří Pelcl; Iva Knobloch: Curator of Prints and Drawings, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague: Postmodernism and its heritage in the Czech Republic; David Crowley: Design historian and leader of the MA in Critical Writing in Art and Design at the Royal College of Art: Did Postmodernism Reach the Eastern Bloc? Design in Eastern Europe in the 1980s; Martina Pachmanova: Assistant Professor at the Prague Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design: Function or Style? On Czech Women Designers and the Glass Ceiling of their Profession. Jüri Kermik presented a paper, Bowler Hat Dialogues - Design and Circumstance, which explored the circumstances which shaped the education and practice of design in Czech Republic and Estonia with particular reference to regional, cultural and political conditions of the 1970s and 80s. Parallels and connections were drawn from professional and personal experiences of design educators-practitioners operating under similar conditions in Prague and Tallinn. The paper was based on the meeting and dialogue between Jiri Pelcl and Jüri Kermik, which took place in Prague in early December 2011. The bowler hat metaphor is borrowed from Milan Kundera’s ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ to provide additional context and perspective to the discussion of objects and their meaning in relation to particular political and social circumstances: ‘… each time the same object would give rise to a new meaning, though all former meanings would resonate (like an echo, like a parade of echoes) together with the new one.’ Key themes discussed included: culture and traditions; functionalism-modernism; design, education and industry; concepts of necessity, weight, value and meaning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJüri Kermik, Bowler Hat Dialogues - Design and Czech Design – Independent, Free and Democratic?
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2012
EventJüri Kermik, Bowler Hat Dialogues - Design and Czech Design – Independent, Free and Democratic? - Sallis Benney Theatre, Grand Parade, Brighton, UK
Duration: 20 Jan 2012 → …


ConferenceJüri Kermik, Bowler Hat Dialogues - Design and Czech Design – Independent, Free and Democratic?
Period20/01/12 → …


  • culture
  • traditions
  • functionalism
  • modernism
  • design
  • education
  • industry
  • iron curtain
  • society


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