Michael Erlhoff

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Michael Erlhoff (born May 27, 1946 ; † May 1, 2021 ) was a German design theorist, art theorist and author . In 1991 he became the founding dean of the design department at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (today Cologne International School of Design ), where he was professor of design history and theory until his retirement in 2013 .


Erlhoff studied and received his doctorate in German literature and sociology at the University of Hanover in 1982 with the dissertation On an attempt at politicizing aesthetics, Raoul Hausmann, Dadasoph . In addition, he worked as an assistant director at the Staatstheater Hannover .

He was a research assistant at the University of Hanover, edited the magazine zwei with Uta Brandes , was editor-in-chief of the art magazine K , published an annual Kurt Schwitters almanac for over ten years and was a member of the advisory board of documenta 8 (1985 to 1987).

From 1987 to 1990 Erlhoff manager was the Design Council / German Design Council in Frankfurt am Main . From 2002 to 2006 he was dean of the cultural studies department at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences and in 1997 visiting professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University .

From 1992 to 2006 he was President of the Raymond Loewy Foundation, which he designed . Together with Uta Brandes, he organized the St. Moritz Design Summit (2000 to 2006).

With Uta Brandes he founded an office for design consulting, conception and research in Cologne. He was a member of the German Society for Design Theory and Research and led projects and workshops as a guest lecturer at universities in Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, New York and Sydney.

On May 31, 2016, the HBK Braunschweig celebrated with a ceremony that the retiree took over an honorary professorship there .


Michael Erlhoff organized and curated the following exhibitions, among others:

  • 4: 3 - 50 years of Italian and German design, Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany , Bonn 2000
  • Today is tomorrow: On the future of experience and construction (together with Hans Ulrich Reck), Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn 2000
  • Designed in Germany (Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, Nagoya et al.), 1988-89
  • Robert Filliou , Kunstmuseum Hannover with the Sprengel Collection, Kunsthalle Bern , Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1984
  • On the appearance of words, Kunstmuseum Hannover with the Sprengel Collection, Hannover, 1980


  • Michael Erlhoff: In the shadow of design, Bauwelt Fundamente, Vol. 172, (Birkhäuser), July 2021, ISBN 978-3-0356-2381-9
  • Michael Erlhoff: Musils Mulis, Roman (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König), April 2021, ISBN 978-3-96098-999-8
  • Michael Erlhoff / Wolfgang Jonas (Ed.): NERD - New Experimental Research in Design, (Birkhäuser), 2021, ISBN 978-3-0356-1680-4 (Engl.)
  • Michael Erlhoff: Theory of Design, (Wilhelm Fink), 2013, ISBN 978-3-7705-5285-6
  • Uta Brandes / Michael Erlhoff (eds.): My Desk is My Castle - Exploring Personalization Cultures (Birkhäuser), 2012, ISBN 978-3-0346-0774-2 (English only)
  • Uta Brandes / Michael Erlhoff (eds.): Dada's Best, Hamburg (Nautilus) 2009, ISBN 978-3-89401-601-2
  • Uta Brandes / Michael Erlhoff / Nadine Schemmann: Designtheorie und Designforschung, Stuttgart (UTB) 2009, ISBN 978-3-8252-3152-1
  • Michael Erlhoff / Tim Marshall (ed.): Dictionary Design, Basel - Boston - Berlin (Birkhäuser), 2007 ISBN 978-3-7643-7738-0 / English Edition: Design Dictionary, Basel - Boston - Berlin (Birkhäuser), 2007 ISBN 3-7643-7739-9
  • Ruedi Baur / Michael Erlhoff: Studieren Design, Stuttgart (UTB) 2007 ISBN 978-3-7705-4488-2
  • Uta Brandes / Michael Erlhoff: Non Intentional Design, Cologne (Daab) 2006, ISBN 978-3-937718-93-4
  • Uta Brandes (ed.): Michael Erlhoff & Friends, Basel - Boston - Berlin (Birkhäuser), 2006, ISBN 3-7643-7689-9
  • Michael Erlhoff / Hans Ulrich Reck (eds.): Today is tomorrow, Bonn (Hatje Cantz), 2000, ISBN 3-7757-0915-0
  • Michael Erlhoff: Using instead of owning (Steidl), 1995, ISBN 3-88243-348-5
  • Michael Erlhoff: The train has left (Steidl), 1992, ISBN 3-88243-217-9
  • Michael Erlhoff / German Design Council, Bernd Busch, Helge Aszmoneit: German Design 1950–1990 / Designed in Germany, Munich (Prestel), 1990, ISBN 3-7913-1079-8
  • Uta Brandes / Richard Bachinger / Michael Erlhoff (eds): Corporate Culture and Tribal Culture, Darmstadt (Verlag der Georg Büchner Buchhandlung), 1988, ISBN 3-927902-26-8
  • Uta Brandes / Rolf-Peter Baacke / Michael Erlhoff: Design as an object. The new shine of things, Berlin (Frölich & Kaufmann) 1983, ISBN 3-88725-008-7
  • Michael Erlhoff (ed.): Raoul Hausmann - Texte bis 1933, Munich (Edition Text + Criticism), 1982 ISBN 3-88377-092-2
  • Michael Erlhoff et al. (Ed.): Kurt Schwitters Almanach, Hanover (postscript), 1981–90

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Hochparterre from May 2, 2021: A big one of the design has died, by Köbi Gantenbein , accessed on May 2, 2021
  2. Honorary professorship to Prof. Dr. Michael Erlhoff , HBK Braunschweig May 30, 2016, accessed April 6, 2017
  3. Review on lesejury.de, accessed on May 2, 2021