The MK&G (Museum of Art & Design) in Hamburg

Three large posters hanging from a gallery wall. The first poster shows a dark-haired woman in her thirties, the second a man with a full beard and long blonde hair, the third a blonde woman in her twenties. All three people are covered in tattoos.

Last week we visited Hamburg for a fantastic holiday. We chose Hamburg because it has very strong art and design sensibilities (and also because we fancied a trip to Germany) (and also beer).

On our last day we visited the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (The Museum of Art and Design) and had a great time looking around the exhibits. The museum has a really comprehensive mix of art and design from ancient art, Islamic art, Renaissance, through to the modern art and Design collections.

Being the designers we are, we focused on the temporary exhibitions and the Design collection. The Tattoo exhibition, featured in the main image, was my favourite. Huge photos hung in the stairwell outside the gallery, as seen in the photo above. The exhibition featured historical photos of tattooed people, from the 1880s to modern day. These photos ranged from circus performers, convicts and prison tattoos, gang members and traditional tattoos including Burmese, Maori and Thai. Also on display was tattoo equipment from traditional tools of wood, thorns and bones to the first electric tattoo machines, first created in 1981.

MK&G literature and guides

Another visiting exhibition that was really interesting was Fast Fashion: The Dark Side of Fashion. This was designed to make people stop and think about issues surrounding fast and cheap fashion such as consumerism, economy and ecology. Exhibitions highlighted the journey of clothes, from the manufacture of a pair of jeans that goes through eight countries in their creation and disposal, to used clothing that journeys from the USA back to Haiti where they are worn by those who manufactured them there in the first place. By the way, if you’re interested in ethically produced fashion you should have a look at our friend Carolynne Alexander’s new collection. She uses organic, repurposed and recycled fabric in her pieces.

The Design exhibition featured a Branding display room. Major German and international brands were presented by their branding, including logo redesigns as well as fonts, colour palettes, taglines, and product lines. The scale was huge and a really interesting way to show the breakdown of all the elements that go into brand design.

MK&G branding room

We would have liked to have spent more time at the museum but we had to dash off and get the S-Bahn back to the airport so we only got to see about a third of the collection. We will have to go back sometime…

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Helen Clark

Helen has a GCSE in German, but hasn’t practiced for 15 years so was surprised when her German was understood by the locals. To be fair, it was mostly ordering beer and coffee though.

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