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eMuseum

«Luxury products»

This exhibition illustrates how products were highlighted and promoted in historical posters. It prompts us to ponder the term ‘luxury’ in general, but also its varied interpretations in different eras and cultural spaces.

In a brief interview, Nico Lazúla Baur, archivist of the Museum für Gestaltung’s poster collection, talks about how the concept of Genussmittel (luxury products) has developed and highlights the history of coffee consumption. As the exhibition shows, Maja Allenbach’s posters were particularly pioneering. 

When does the term Genussmittel (luxury products) arise?
The definition of products as luxury goods, or as intoxicating or addictive, is determined by cultural, ideological and religious influences and differs according to socio-cultural context and historical epoch. Tobacco, for instance, has been defined as an addictive substance in Europe only since the 1950s; for centuries, it was seen as a luxury, even therapeutic product. Another example: until recently, beer enjoyed a significant status alongside bread as ‘liquid bread’.

 

When did people start drinking coffee in Europe, and why did coffee substitutes proliferate to such an extent?
Pure ground coffee became an everyday product in Europe only after the ‘economic miracle’ of the 1950s. Previously, it was an expensive, exotic luxury and its consumption was seen as inappropriate in a rural context. Until the second world war, more than half of coffee consumed was in the form of coffee substitute products. 

The massive expansion of the coffee substitute industry was driven by import difficulties, the supposed detrimental effects of genuine coffee, the high price of arabica coffee, and the growing number of workers and their rapidly changing living conditions. Until the end of the 19th century, potatoes, spirits and coffee (or coffee substitutes) were the classic trilogy of the meagre but widespread proletarian diet, and helped to overcome long working hours.  To promote public health, ‘healthy coffee’ made of malt, rye or figs was introduced.

 

Which of the posters in the exhibition would you say is particularly pioneering?
The posters by Maja Allenbach deserve special attention. Unfortunately, she is largely unknown today, but she was an early pioneer of the photo poster in Switzerland. In bringing together photography and typography, Allenbach ushered in a new aesthetic in consumer posters. Her avant-garde design sensibility is very much evident in her advertising posters for Astra fat and Stalden cream. 

Allenbach attracted attention with her surreal 1935 poster for Astra fat and oils. It communicates a clear message: by using Astra fat, the floating baby becomes a young man striding confidently into life. But it also reflects the traditional roles of the time – it is clearly meant to appeal to mothers.

We are lucky that Allenbach’s original design, ‘Astra hilft sparen’, which appears not to have been used, entered the collection last year.
 

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Donald Brun
Release date 1943
Coop Kaffee – preiswert und gut
Viktor Rutz
Release date​​​​​​​ 1939
Floralp Butter am besten
 
anonym
Release date 1937
Tobler Cacao – Die billigste Volksnahrung
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Donald Brun
Release date​​​​​​​ 1948
Bell
 
Atelier Eidenbenz / Willi Eidenbenz 
Release date 1958
 
 
L. Wyler
Release date​​​​​​​ 1940
Crest Pfeifen
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None
anonym
Release date​​​​​​​ 1933
Hero Conserven Lenzburg
 
Donald Brun
Release date​​​​​​​ 1944
Erika Pudding 
 
Hans Aeschbach
Release date​​​​​​​ 1952
Hero Lenzburg – neue Sorte
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Fritz Bühler
Release date​​​​​​​ 1938
Brot gibt Kraft
Atelier Eidenbenz / Hanspeter Rolly
Release date 1954
Usego Speisefett – schmackhaft und ausgiebig
 
Maja Allenbach
Release date 1945
Stalden Konserven
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None
None
Jules Glaser
Release date​​​​​​​ 1947
Franck Aroma
Viktor Rutz
Release date 1944
Frisco – Tiefgekühlt
 
Advico AG / Mario Trüb 
Photographer: Kurt Staub
Release date 1967
Jaffa
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Donald Brun
Release date 1957
Maggi Steinpilzsuppe
Maja Allenbach
Release date 1935 
Mamans, faites votre cuisine à la graisse d'arachide Astra
Wäspi
Release date 1945
Mis Bachme Chäsli!
 
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Viktor Rutz
Release date 1944
Bigrement bon
 
Viktor Rutz
Release date 1942
Mahalla
 
Herbert Leupin
Release date 1944
Suchard – Milka
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Numa Rick
Release date 1937
Franck Aroma – Cichorie
Maja Allenbach
Release date 1936
Speisefett Astra – Für alles – Mit garantiert 10% eingesottener Butter
Walter Sigg
Release date 1953
Usego – Jubiläums Kaffee
 
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None
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Martin Peikert 
Release date 1944
Händ ihr au Roco Confi? (Plakatentwurf)
anonym
Release date 1944
Co op
Atelier Eidenbenz / Hermann Eidenbenz
Release date 1950
Bell Mortadella
None
None
None
Viktor Rutz
Release date 1947
Stalden
Fritz Meyer
Release date 1954
Frutta Hero Lenzburg
Franz Gygax
Release date 1949
Gerber Gala – Doppelrahm Käse

Poster collection, Museum für Gestaltung Zürich

The poster collection at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich is one of the most comprehensive and important archives of its kind in the world. It contains around 350,000 objects, with about 120,000 catalogued, all documenting the national and international history of the poster from its origins in the mid-19th century to the present day.  The collection includes political, cultural and commercial posters. Their diversity of historical, thematic and geographic subjects results in both a panorama of poster art and a glimpse into a visual archive of day-to-day life. Part of the collection is available to view in an online catalogue: www.emuseum.ch 

 

Rights

The images in this online exhibition are part of the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich’s digital poster collection and are for illustration purposes only. Publication of the images or other commercial use for the benefit of third parties is not permitted without the permission of the copyright holders. For information on ordering image templates: sammlungen@museum-gestaltung.ch