The school desk: from concept to object

In the authors’ aim to go beyond the ‘silent’ school desk they returned to sources
such as public contracts, photographs, advertising leaflets and (the often
neglected) patents kept in the municipal archives of Brussels. In this article, they
focus on the first half of the twentieth century and two phases of the ‘life-cycle’
of the school desk, namely the design phase on the one hand and the production
phase on the other hand. What desks were designed and by whom (cf. patents)?
Which desks were effectively produced for use in the municipal schools of
Brussels? The transition between these two phases – the place where only some
designs were brought to ‘life’ – occupies a special place. The paper concludes with
a case study on the school furniture of Oscar Brodsky, a designer who kindled the
authors’ interest through his publicity campaign of the 1920s and 1930s.

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