New Olds: Design between Tradition and Innovation

Exhibition dates: 7 December 2012 – 9 March 2013

Opening night: Thursday 6 December 2012, 6:00-8:00pm

Curator: Volker Albus

About the exhibition

New Olds - Design between Tradition and Innovation explores the relationship between tradition and innovation in contemporary design around the themes of materials, construction, configuration, production, and traditional use.

57 designers and design teams from Germany, other European countries, USA and Israel enter into an intensive dialogue about aspects of the “new” and the “old” in a range of objects and groups of objects. These combine traditional methods in products meant for contemporary consumers.

Three years back, when the German designer and curator Volker Albus, visited India for the first time, its abundant craftsmanship and rich tradition inspired him and the idea of the exhibition New Olds took its genesis.

Observing that many designers from countries such as India look towards the west for inspiration, he realised there exists a much deeper tradition which is often forgotten. The products on display in the exhibition reveal that innovative inspirations can be connected to traditions.

Many of the design motifs that are depicted as “new” actually derive from an historical context and existing idiom of one country or culture but represent a new interpretation of traditional forms. The New Olds exhibition aims to show the international and complex nature of this discourse in contemporary design, with works inspired by historical references and symbols ranging from deer antlers to the cuckoo clock, traditional porcelain, Baroque objects and the more recent history of Bauhaus and Memphis.

New Olds looks at aspects of the “new” and the “old” in a range of objects and groups of objects, discusses differences and new combinations, presents trends in recycling and redesign, and looks at the transformation of design classics and traditional ways of using new materials.

Design has a short and highly successful history in the West. It quickly became a key feature of a collective understanding of culture, and is correspondingly appreciated and communicated. Outside the western hemisphere , what are seen as successful idioms are copied and varied, but many of the motifs that are sold as “new” actually derive from a historical context and formal idiom, and are self-contained products of one country or culture, representing a new interpretation of traditional forms.

Free public program events

Bookings essential: 03 9925 1717

07/03/2013 Design Education today Australian designers Tim Collins, Dale Hardiman and Scott Mitchell in conversation with Industrial Designer Malte Wagenfeld about what makes good design and how design education has evolved over the years.

13/12/2012 New Olds - Australian designers in conversation In this talk, three designers in the exhibition discuss current surge of interest in retro interior design and talk about how they use new materials and technology as well as a providing a different outlook on the old and familiar.

07/12/2012 Key note design talk with Professor Volker Albus Join Professor Albus, from the Karlsruhe State Academy of Design, for this exclusive walk through of the exciting design exhibition New Olds: Design Between Tradition and Innovation.

06/12/2012 New Olds exhibition opening night at RMIT Gallery New Olds: Design between Tradition and Innovation is a travelling exhibit which will be unveiled by Dr Christoph Müller, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany.All are welcome to join us for RMIT Gallery’s final exhibition opening of the year.


Developed by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IfA) and presented in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Australien.

Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IfA)

Goethe-Institut Australien

Studio Makkink and Bey: Werkstadt-Kabinett, 2010

Studio Makkink and Bey: Werkstadt-Kabinett, 2010

Ensemble. Sandblasted wood, antique chair and table, PVC adhesives
W 178 x D 85 x H 168 cm. One only.
Photo/Copyright: Frank Kleinbach, Germany