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Katja Kullmann | Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017 | Being Modern

Katja Kullmann

Katja Kullmann is a writer, newspaper journalist and freelance sociologist. In her work, she puts the focus on the mechanics of distinction – especially on "lifestyle" as a political feature, always intertwined with matters of social class and identity. Her latest book Rasende Ruinen. Wie Detroit sich neu erfindet (2012) is a commentary on the attempts of resurrecting the infamous Motor City. In 2011, she published Echtleben. Warum es heute so kompliziert ist, eine Haltung zu haben, an essay about the often absurd exploitation of labor in the post-industrial era. She holds an MA in Political Science, Sociology and American Studies, was awarded with the German Book Prize (2003) and is currently still working as vice editor-in-chief and head of the culture section at the weekly Der Freitag. She has terminated her contract recently and will be off to write a new book soon. 

Talk: The Political Impact of Billy: How a Bookshelf Became an Indicator for Socio-Cultural Shifts

Conference: Peak Individualism
Date: Day 2 – 15:30
Location: E-Werk Kesselsaal, Weimar

Everybody knows it, many live with it in their homes – and in each Billy-biography there are moments of love and hate, of pride and shame. Hardly any other piece of modern furniture tells so much about the ongoing status wars in society as Ikea's Billy-shelf does. When inventing it in 1978, its designer Gillis Lundgren thought of it as democratic: “Billy has allowed so many people to have their own home library”, he once said. Billy was indeed born in an era, when left-libertarian ideas about the welfare state and about the improvement of mass-education prevailed. In the 1990s, with the surge of the neoliberal ideology, these ideas collapsed. And so did Billy – almost. Ikea decided not to produce it any longer, and Neocons discussed it as an example of a "too socialist" way of living. But Billy survived, mainly due to worldwide consumer protests in defence of "their" Billy. Just recently, Billy underwent another small revival, under the fashionable feuilletonistic caption "Normcore". At the same time, public educational systems are currently being dismantled even more radically, individual purchasing power is drifting apart even more, and status anxiety is strongly on the rise again. It might be the right time to re-read and re-use Billy as a political symbol.

Under the patronage of

Deutsche UNESCO Kommission

Supported by


Organized by

Media and event partners

brand eins
Uni Weimar