Hands and feet are the “outposts” of our bodies and are the preferred means of keeping us in “touch” with our environment. Wanting to protect or adorn them—depending on the situation—is an understandable reaction to their prominent position in our existence as physical beings.

A ubiquitous factor from which we frequently have to protect ourselves is the weather. For this purpose there are gloves for our hands, and hosiery and shoes for our feet. In contrast, sporting activities and dangerous occupations are reasons to use specialized protective clothing. Shoes and gloves belonging to dignitaries can become objects of great symbolic value, as is the case in Christianity, for example.

Hands and feet have been adorned for millennia. On display here are artistically striking pieces from the MAK Collection that originate from Europe and Asia. The shoes and gloves, jewelry for hands and feet, bags, tobacco tins, fans, and design objects shown range from the Middle Ages to the present day. These pieces are not presented as mere chic accessories, but rather they are revealed to be multifaceted cultural objects thanks to the various subject areas in which they are embedded.

Protecting and Adorning, MAK DESIGN LAB, May 2014 – August 2016
Thomas Hoke: armlet Unterarmstück [Lower Arm Piece], Vienna, 1983


Thematic area Protecting and Adorning