Between Brussels and Shanghai: Industry, technology, and arts

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Lásló Moholy-Nagy-Lichtspiel Schwarz-Weiss-Grau, 1933

Eindhoven became a place where artists, entrepreneurs, and designers from Europe and beyond connected technology and industry with design and arts.

In 1936, Henri van Abbe, a wealthy entrepreneur who earned his fortune in the city’s cigar industry, opened the Van Abbe Museum. In 1971, the museum obtained a replica of László Moholy-Nagy’s Licht-Raum Modulator. The Hungarian artist, who was also a teacher at the famous German Bauhaus, designed the apparatus in the 1920s for theatrical, marketing, and even radio transmitting purposes. By connecting these functions to an object of art, Moholy-Nagy was way ahead of his time.

So was Philips, which combined music, architecture, and design in a Gesamtkunstwerk at the 1958 World Expo in Brussels. The Poème électronique was a multi-media showpiece with electronic music accompanying wall projections in a futuristic building designed by the Greek architect and composer Iannis Xenakis and the French architect Le Corbusier.

In 2005, the British magazine Icon ranked the Design Academy Eindhoven amongst the world’s top five most influential institutions, persons, and objects in design. The 2010 World Expo in Shanghai featured ‘Happy Street’, an architectural piece of art by Dutch artist John Körmeling, who lives and works in Eindhoven.

Eindhoven has a longstanding and successful tradition of connecting technology, design, and art. The question is whether the city can further develop this quality and become an international hub in this fusion of creativity and knowledge.

How to cite this page


Eric Berkers, 'Between Brussels and Shanghai: Industry, technology, and arts ', Inventing Europe,


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  2. Weitemeier, H. Licht-Visionen. Ein experiment von Moholy-Nagy. Berlin: Bauhaus-Archiv, 1972.
  3. Caton, J. Harris. The Utopian Vision of Moholy-Nagy. Ann-Arber: UMI Research Press, 1984.
  4. Make it new. Le poème électrique. Onderzoek voor de reconstructie van het Philips-paviljoen uit 1958 in Eindhoven, edited by H. le Blanc and others. Eindhoven: Stichting Alice, 2006.
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  8. “21 Most Influential.” ICON Magazine Online, (March 2005). Accessed March 2013.



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About this tour


Eindhoven: Bulbs, Brains, and Design

In the course of a century, Eindhoven developed from a regional trade center to a global technological hub. Philips, car and truck factory DAF, and subsequently VDL Group and Philips offshoots ASML, FEI, and Neways Electronics made the city famous for technology and innovation. While design became another of the city’s trademarks, innovation center Brainport is working hard to secure the region’s future in valorizing knowledge.

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World Expo Brussels, 1958

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