The catalogue of a unique collection, ROBOTS 1:2 presents the space-themed toys in the R. F. Robot Collection held by the Vitra Design Museum. “Small kinetic sculptures of great originality”: that is how Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman Emeritus of Vitra and founder of the Vitra Design Museum, describes the objects in his collection. In many years of careful research, he compiled a rare Wunderkammer of toy robots made mainly in Japan between 1937 and 1973.
The term robot was coined in 1921 by Czech writer Karel Capek in his play R. U. R., which foreshadowed some of the impact robots have had on human lives – from relieving us of hard, dangerous, or unpleasant tasks to taking over our jobs, from small everyday dependencies to shifts in social power dynamics.
While the large-format predecessor to this book presented the exhibits in their original size, ROBOTS 1:2 shows the space toys on a 1:2 scale. The largest robot determines the size of the book: this conveys a sense of the uncanny ambivalence that clings to even the most playful representatives of their kind. The fantastic pictures on the original packaging often displayed alongside the figurines vividly illustrate an image of the future that by this time is itself part of our past.
QR codes give access to short films showing a number of robots in action.
The R. F. Robot Collection, housed in the »Wunderkammer« on the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany, can be visited as part of a guided tour.For more information please go to www.design-museum.de.