Disegno 2021/1-2


Editors: Zsolt Gyenge, Olivér Horváth, Márton Szentpéteri
Guest Editor: Bori Fehér

There is nothing more natural for the scholarly journal of the only university bearing László Moholy-Nagy’s name than to edit a thematic issue to mark the occasion of seventy-five years since his death. This was an opportunity to invite scholars, researchers, and designers to present their thoughts and perspectives and thereby provide a critical assessment of one of the most important designers, educators, and thinkers of the early-twentieth century.

You can download the whole volume in one file here.

Table of Contents

The Editors: Introduction




  • Joseph Malherek: Moholy-Nagy and the Practical Side of Socialism
  • Apol Temesi: Raw Material-Centric Didactics: Multi-Sensory Material Knowledge in Design Education
  • Sofía Quiroga Fernández: Moholy-Nagy’s Light Prop for an Electric Stage. Design, Copies and Reproductions
  • Attila Csoboth: Man with a Light Projector: László Moholy-Nagy’s Cinematographic Toolkit


  • Attitudes of Design Leadership. An Interview with Guy Julier by Márton Szentpéteri


  • Ágnes Anna Sebestyén: Beatriz Colomina: X-Ray Architecture
  • About the authors

The Editors: Introduction

Disegno 2021/1-2, page range: 6-7. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2021_1-2int

Intrigue still surrounds Moholy-Nagy and the issue is also an opportunity to address some of the more evasive and hidden aspects of his character. Though he is widely known and recognized as one of the most important Bauhaus-inspired thinkers—see, for example, Alysa Nahmias’ recent documentary The New Bauhaus —many details of his life and work still need to be discovered and made available to the wider public. It is also very telling in this respect that the definitive intellectual biography of László Moholy-Nagy is still to be written. Much of this might be due in part to his early death, which left several of his projects unfinished, and also to the difficult times he lived through, when—as some of the papers published in this issue will show—the shortage of materials, lack of socio-political stability, and unpredictability of funding undermined many of his plans.

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Myra Margolin: Victor Margolin’s Early Years

Disegno 2021/1-2, page range: 10-21. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2021_1-2mm

When I was a small child, my father used to take me to a novelty shop in Chicago called Uncle Fun. It was filled with rows of cabinets with tiny drawers that seemed, to my small self, to reach the ceiling. Each drawer contained a small wonder: little rubber chickens, stickers of Renaissance angels, woven finger traps, wax lips, kazoos. We would venture from our apartment in suburban Chicago to this shop in the city where he and I both delighted in opening the drawers and discovering small bursts of surprise, returning home with bags of treasures. We would lay these out on the dining room table, get out his big box of rubber stamps and spend hours making kookie, kitschy art together.
Another clear memory: searching with him for the perfect Chicago hot dog. First we decided it was at Fluky’s, where they gave out bubble gum in the shape of a hot dog. Then we switched our allegiance to Poochie’s, where they grilled the onions and slathered on melted cheddar cheese. When my uncles visited from New York, my father eagerly engaged them in the search, taking them around the city to sample hot dog after hot dog.
My father was a seeker of culture, someone who dove into the human-made world, be it looking at paintings at a high-end gallery, questing for hot dog perfection, or buying curios with his pre-schooler. I don’t think there was much difference in his mind. He was endlessly fascinated with material culture, engaging in innumerable collecting endeavors throughout his life. He kept catalogs of every film he had seen, had drawers overflowing with records and CDs of music from every continent, and for years devoted shelves of his university office to his “Museum of Contemporary Art”, his collection of cultural kitsch.

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Alain Findeli: Victor Margolin, “Cultural Provocateur” (1941-2019)

Disegno 2021/1-2, page range: 22-41. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2021_1-2af

Since this special issue is also published in the memory of the late Victor Margolin (1941–2019),a homage to Victor’s intellectual biography is presented here in the form of a journey through his academic career as well as a chronology of his work as editor of Design Issues, the journal he launched in 1984.

#Victor Margolin, #Design studies, #Design Issues, #Social Design.

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Lee Davis and Bori Fehér: Design for Life: Moholy-Nagy’s Holistic Blueprint for Social Design Pedagogy and Practice

Disegno 2021/1-2, page range: 44-67. https://doi.org/10.21096/disegno_2021_1-2ld-bf

Design discourse is evolving in response to a confluence of global challenges: a pandemic; increasing economic disparities; systemic racism and social inequality; rising authoritarianism, nationalism and political division; and the urgency of the climate crisis. Designers are increasingly questioning their role and responsibility in the world and seeking opportunities to leverage their creative talents to address these intractable problems. At the center of this critique is also a fundamental reappraisal of the predominant design paradigm, the anthropocentric process of “human-centered design,” promulgated since the mid-1950s (Dreyfuss 1955). A growing body of literature has emerged, questioning the human-centric perspective in design (Benyus 1997; Norman 2005; IDEO 2014; Fulton 2019; Escobar 2018; Boradkar 2015; Weaver 2019; Hess 2020). Concomitantly, the concept of “life-centered design” is gaining attention among design educators, students and practitioners. But to refer to the concept of life-centered design as “new” would be disingenuous. László Moholy-Nagy advocated for such a revolution a hundred years ago. From the early 1920s he called for a holistic, organic, life-centered design pedagogy, practice, and mindset. Much has been written about Moholy-Nagy’s art, photography and teaching but relatively little attention has been given to his pioneering thinking, writing, and practice in “social design.” Moholy-Nagy was also a pioneer in articulating a role for designers in addressing the critical economic, social, and environmental challenges of the time. As the founding director of the New Bauhaus and the Institute of Design in Chicago, he believed designers would need to move beyond the consumerist view in favor of “a better understanding of those principles which control all life”—individual life, ocial life, and life in the natural world. Driven by his own humble beginnings and rural upbringing, his personal trauma in war, the rise of Fascism and the onset of a second world war, his itinerant life across diverse cultural, artistic, natural, and theoretical influences, Moholy-Nagy evolved a blueprint for a vision of life-centered design that is as salient today as it was a century ago.

#holism, #design pedagogy, #life-centered design, #New Bauhaus, #social design

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