ROBOTS 1:1 explores the space-themed toys in the R. F. Robot Collection
held by the Vitra Design Museum. Largely
produced in Japan between 1937 and 1973, these figures of robots (and the
occasional astronaut) have been carefully researched and compiled over the
years by Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman Emeritus of Vitra and founder of the Vitra
Design Museum, who describes them as “small kinetic sculptures of great
Ever since the term’s
first appearance in Czech writer Karel Čapek’s science fiction play R.U.R. in
1921, robots have both served and taken over the work of humans, creating human
dependency and at times a shift in the power dynamics of a society. ROBOTS 1:1
is unique in that it shows the toys and their original packaging (when
available) in a scale of 1:1, with the largest robot determining the size of
the book. In this way, it conveys something of the uncanny nature of the robots
and their ambivalence, while the vivid illustrations on the boxes give an idea
of the futuristic fantasies developed over the period.
ROBOTS 1:1 is limited to
an edition of 1,000 copies, numbered and signed by Rolf Fehlbaum. A USB stick
with 34 short films demonstrating a selection of robots in action is integrated
into the spine of the book, alongside a poster featuring 80 robots in
chronological order of their release.
The R. F. Robot Collection, housed in the »Black
Box« on the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, is open to the public and can be
visited as part of a guided tour.