Systemdesign / HFG Ulm

the world as a design

In the FRG, Hans Gugelot designed the M 125 furniture system at the HFG Ulm in 1959. Otl Aicher, who was a co-founder of the legendary Hochschule für Gestaltung HFG in Ulm in the 1950s, wrote the following homage to this system furniture.

hans gugelot can be credited with expanding the concept of utility value as a design parameter to include the concept of system. he saw a higher utility value in a variable furniture system of elements in the sense of self-determination than in the collection of cupboards, however beautiful and well-crafted they may be. the buyer can put together the storage system that is tailored to his body according to his inclinations, interests, needs and circumstances. cupboards, shelves, compartments can be assembled in all heights and widths according to opportunity and inclination. such a system, which establishes freedom, which achieves a greater quality of humanity, but which also requires creative intelligence, a propensity to produce, not just consumers, such a system can only be produced with the precision inherent in the technical production method. a system can grow and shrink, modify itself according to phases of life, as a system it remains constant. gugelot did not see his system as a concrete offer, he saw it as a design principle that should also prove its validity in appliance construction, also in architecture. the idea of an end product was no longer sought. this end product had evaporated. the result could look like this or that, depending on the need, depending on the use. in the beginning there was the element. a few boards, connected by standardized joints, could be put together to form units, a box, a shelf. the units in turn were then used to create a wide variety of programs.

methodologically, the relationship from constants to variables, from standardization to any final form opened up. from element to program.
today it is hard to convey the feeling that moved us when we no longer needed to understand freedom and variability, even in the personal, even in the political, as the opposite of norms and fixation, but as something that is mutually dependent. only the accurate element, only the strict method creates openness, allows creativity, enables imagination. rational methods and exact elements, exact standards and precise production opened up the freedom of our own programs.
we broke up standardization, which as such led to compulsion, schematism and uniformity. we forced the grid to serve impulses. we peeled play out of the repetition of the schema. it was precisely by affirming standards that we made free play possible in a new way. we had the ladder on which one could climb beyond oneself. we affirmed the laws of technology in order to open up the realm of unlimited variations.


I would like to take this opportunity to highly recommend the book “the world as design” to anyone interested in design and design theory.

Wolfgang Fünfgeld