• Otti Berger: Weaving for Modernist Architecture
    Judith Raum
    Esther Cleven, Magdalena Droste, Tanya Harrod, Juliet Kinchin, Corinna A. Rader, and Katja Stelz
    Hatje Cantz, 2024
    Judith Raum

Otti Berger, "Four samples of wall spanning fabrics for acoustic application, developed for Wohnbedarf AG Zurich," 1933. Courtesy Museum fuer Gestaltung Zurich. Photo: Uta Neumann

Bauhaus-trained textile designer Otti Berger’s ouevre is an extraordinary example of a textile designer successfully complementing modernist architecture with precisely designed and industrially produced woven fabrics for the interior. In addition, Berger’s working method and professional positioning constitute an early example of highly specialized entrepreneurship in the textile sector. Yet her functional fabric designs are virtually unknown and have not yet been the object of thorough study. The publication provides the first systematic overview and detailed analysis of Berger’s textile estate, which is incoherently dispersed across international collections in North America and Europe, and makes Berger’s major texts on the textile medium and its relation with architecture available in English. At the same time, it offers a long-overdue biographical retrospective of a female Jewish entrepreneur in the 1930s whose practise was forcibly disrupted by Nazi Germany. The applied artistic research methodology and the publication's design put the reader in the position to reconnect the dots of Berger’s design work and to make sense of its various aspects, an overview that geographical distances and conservational restrictions make impossible outside the space of the book.

Judith Raum is a Berlin-based artist and author who holds a degree in fine art from Staedelschule, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, a master’s in philosophy, psychoanalysis, and art history from the University of Frankfurt/Main, Germany, and studied abroad at The Cooper Union School of Art, New York City. She works primarily in installation and performance, building detailed, poetic narratives that reference economic and social histories, postcolonial critique, and conditions of artistic production. After extended research into German economic colonialism in the Ottoman Empire, she has concentrated on the Bauhaus textile workshop since 2016. Her works on Bauhaus textiles were recently presented in the department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, as part of the show Taking a thread for a walk, at Yale University as part of Bauhaus@Yale, and at the the Harvard Art Museums as part of the exhibition The Bauhaus and Harvard, among other locations.