Interview with Karl Schlamminger

Phone interview with Karl Schlamminger (Artist)

Former member of Rasht 29

Date: 1 November 2017

Time: 11:00 am

Interviewer: Sara Shaban-Azad (Research Assistant)


Mr. Schlamminger began the interview by giving a briefly describing Iran in the 60s and the story of his marriage to Nasrin Azarba.


“My last teacher in Munich was Mr. Johannes Itten, one of the most influential at the Bauhaus. From him I learned how to teach art, how to arouse a student’s curiosity for learning, not just forcing them to copy their masters. I continued his teaching method while teaching art in Iran. I first started at the Istanbul College of Fine Arts. After my son was born, we moved to Tehran and I started teaching at the Decorative Arts College of Tehran University. That was when I met Parviz Tanavoli and Kamran Diba and we decided to do something positive together; that’s how I was connected to Rasht 29 Club.


Rasht 29 was a place where like-minded people would get together. Tanavoli’s brother Jamshid played an important part in managing the establishment and we helped out as well.

We were just like a family and then later on, more and more people came.

It had a very free atmosphere, far from the bourgeois silliness that was going on at the time. It didn’t start out as an artistic venue. Back then the only places where people would go and hang out were the American and French clubs and the only professional art gallery was Seyhoun art gallery (still active).


Rasht 29 was unique and everybody wanted to know what went on there and who would show up. If people wanted a good meal they either went to Shamshiri or another place where they only served chicken kebab. There wasn’t much variety in the food served at restaurants those days. So after the club opened, people had the option of going to a different place and experiencing new food, drinks and people. The food was quite good. Simple European food that satisfied Iranian taste. People were just discovering Filet Mignon and strange new sauces—they had no clue what a steak was! Since my family had owned a hotel/restaurant for years I already knew how to prepare a proper steak, so I started preparing the meals there.


It had a very nice and cosy vibe. They weren’t pretending to be something else. Sometimes a Kamanche player would come and play. People could easily make friends there. There were artists, poets and actors. You would go in and see a table full of artists. It had character.


It wasn’t really an exhibition space, just a restaurant with paintings on the walls as decoration. It was a place where people would come to dine and spend time together. Most of the people that came were Iranians but if someone had foreign guests and wanted to show them a good time, they would surely bring them there. I remember whenever I had guests from Germany or elsewhere, I’d take them to the club. The only thing that baffles me was why it closed down so abruptly.