The annual sailing regatta in the northern German town of Kiel dates back to 1882. It is now the world’s largest event of its kind, always taking place in the second week of June. Both World Wars interrupted the series; there were no Kieler Wochen organized in the years 1914–18 and 1940–46.
Nowadays some 2,000 boats with a total crew of 5,000 competitors take part, and the city of Kiel organizes many cultural events to accompany ‘Kiel Week’. The event deserves its reputation as ‘the Mother and Father of all regattas’. In the years 1936 and 1972 Kiel staged the Olympic sailing competition. Now each year, more than 3.5 million spectators attend this multi-faceted festival. When the event resumed after the Second World War, a new tradition was born. To promote Kieler Woche in all of its aspects, a design competition was established. It soon got out of hand. Even in 1952 the open competition gave the jurors the hard task of judging 694 designs. Three years later there were 1,228 entries, 11 percent of which came from abroad. The competition had become ‘a lottery for dilettantes’, as the organizers later wrote. After an intermediate solution for 1957 and 1958 the time was ripe for further limited contributions. A modest group of graphic designers were allowed to take part by invitation.
The visual theme for each year is implemented in a wide range of ways. The invited German designers are supplemented by a limited number of reputed colleagues, mainly from Western European countries; at each event, a ‘newcomer’ on the design scene is also given her or his chance. Bruno Wiese and his fellow professor Fritz Seitz were for several years the organizers of the competition, and a large majority of their invited competitors were AGI members. Quite a few AGI members, both winners and non-winners, included Kieler Woche designs among their items selected for this book. Taking part was fun and an honour in itself.
This exhibition is far from complete. We have only included posters that were submitted by AGI members who took part in this book.
Ben Bos, Amsterdam, 2007
Essay taken from 'AGI: Graphic Design Since 1950' by Ben & Elly Bos