The period from the end of the Second World War to the mid 1970s was a time of great political tension and exceptional creativity. Art and design were not peripheral symptoms of politics during the Cold War: they played a central role in representing and sometimes challenging the dominant political and social ideas of the age.
Video: Jested Telecommunications Tower and Hotel
As part of Cold War Modern: Design 1945-70, exhibition curator Jane Pavitt visited the Ješted telecommunication tower and hotel in Liberec, Czech Republic. The hotel is situated on top of a mountain and was built in the mid-1960s as the telecommunication point of the Soviet state network. The telecommunication towers were a unique building form of the Cold War period.
Video: Dieter Rams, designer - Cold War Modern
This rare film, originally commissioned for the V&A's Cold War Modern exhibition, visits Rams in his German home. It explores Rams's uncompromising design philosophy and asks him about classic objects such as the SK4 record player which have made Rams a 21st-century cult figure. As design director of the German company, Braun, Rams led a design revolution that brought Modernist rigour and elegance to every electronic object in the home.
Video: Ken Adam, designer - Cold War Modern
Sir Ken Adam trained as an architect, after which he joined the film industry as a set designer. He made his mark with the vibrant villain's lair for Dr No, attracting the attention of maverick director, Stanley Kubrick who asked him to design the set for his 'Cold War comedy' Dr Strangelove. This film looks at Adam's difficult but productive relationship with the director.
Modernism in design and architecture emerged in the aftermath of the First World War and the Russian Revolution – a period when the artistic avant-garde dreamed of a new world free of conflict, greed and social inequality. It was not a style but a loose collection of ideas. Many different styles can be characterised as Modernist, but they shared certain underlying principles: a rejection of history and applied ornament; a preference for abstraction; and a belief that design and technology could transform society.