Exhibition from the oeuvre of outstanding Hungarian designer Sándor Borz Kováts opens in Brussels

Distinguished Hungarian designer and architect, former student and later teacher at the predecessor of MOME Sándor Borz Kováts is featured in an exhibition at the Design Museum Brussels. This is the first comprehensive exhibition to explore and contextualise his body of work. Renowned for his diverse designs ranging from Hungary’s first catamaran on Lake Balaton to innovative music schools, university campuses, tubular and fiberglass furniture, modular lamp collections, and even boutiques in the 1960s, Borz Kováts had a career that was tragically cut short at a young age and is now examined through the lens of international contemporaries and young designers today.

In 2023, MOME students explored the legacy of iconic alumnus and assistant lecturer at the Hungarian Academy of Applied Arts Borz Kováts under the guidance of designer and teacher András Kerékgyártó DLA, and curator and concept owner of the exhibition Judit Horváth PhD. Horváth’s curatorial concept was the starting point of the exhibition, and also represented the contemporary design positions of current students of the institution that is now MOME. During the 2023 spring course, students made a thorough assessment of Borz Kováts’ works in the museum’s collection, made a video of GIFs modelling the structure of these objects, and created a 1:7 scale mockup of the 1970s Borz Kováts exhibition held at the academy, which was later installed in Brussels. 

The students also designed the distinctive crates used in the Belgian exhibition. The concept was to create a highly portable exhibition showcasing the design of Eastern Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, and ensure that the objects can be installed on the very same crates in which they are transported. Compactness of transportability is all the more important as the curatorial concept also focuses on featuring items from the local design collection alongside Borz Kováts’ works, presenting outstanding items from behind the iron curtain and beyond side by side, and illustrating the relationship between Hungarian and local design cultures.  As a result, the Brussels exhibition also features works by Bellini, Bonetto, Aarnio, and Mattioli from the Design Museum Brussels collection, alongside Borz Kováts’ pieces. 

During the spring semester of 2024, students designed furniture inspired by the works of Borz Kováts, which were showcased at the spring end-of-semester exhibition on the Zugligeti Road campus.  Reflecting on Kováts’ lamps, tubular frame furniture with castor wheels, and armchair designs, Márton Takács created the Enso, Márton Hunyadi the Bolygó, and Veronika Antal the Claret lamp, along with various armchairs, including Bernadett Garai’s Zip, Levente Buzás’s BO!, Kinga Zsanett Székely’s Ribbon, József Brindzik’s Chair, and Benedikt Ritterbach’s seating furniture, as well as Lilla Erika Sárközi’s R71 floor lamp and Sára Fruzsina Nagy’s storage furniture. 

The newly opened exhibition in Brussels can be seen as an attempt at symbolically extending Borz Kováts’s tragically short life by placing the few remaining objects in an international context and also by providing university students with a deeper understanding of his forgotten body of work through courses dedicated to his oeuvre. Despite only living for thirty-three years, he was one of the most significant Hungarian designers of his time. He was among the first to advocate for systemic design in Hungary, striving for optimal minimum in his work, utilising available resources, and practicing responsible design to avoid generating excess, ahead of his time. 

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Innovating across Borders: Reflections on the Oeuvre of Sándor Borz Kováts, Design Museum Brussels, 8 May – 9 June 2024 

Curator: Judit Horváth PhD 

Course lead: András Kerékgyártó DLA 

Students involved in designing the exhibition: Benjamin Bechtold Fülöp, Rebeka Csiby-Gindele, Dóra Eiler, Nóra Panna Fehérvári, Eszter Hankó, Balázs Kisgyörgy, János Dániel Máth, Laura Schillinger 

To read more about Borz Kováts’s oeuvre and the exhibition, visit the IMM website

Photo: Dóra Eiler

Szerző: Anna Göttler