Bauhaus University Weimar: Summaery 2014

July 11th, 2014

On the evening of Thursday July 10th the annual Bauhaus University Weimar “Summaery” student showcase exhibition opened for its 2014 edition.
In terms of product design, and without meaning to be disingenuous, it wasn’t the strongest Summaery we’ve ever been to. There were however a few projects that allowed us to leave without the feeling of having completely wasted our train fares. And so, and in no particular order…..

WOob by Lisa Kästner (Realised in context of the class: MACHEN? – Anschluss 2014)

With its red MDF and small rubber tyre WOob looks like a product that belongs in the collection of an infamous Aschau im Chiemgau based contemporary furniture producer. But that’s not why we like it. There are currently numerous objects on the market that can be used as make-shift, ad-hoc desks. Generally however they are wall mounted. WOob is a trunk. And that creates numerous advantages. On the one hand you can more easily integrate a greater array of features. Speakers for example. Also it makes it not just an object for compact and bijou domestic spaces. Many companies, especially start ups have colleagues who aren’t in the office on a regular bases, yet who need a desk when they are there. Keeping a desk free for such colleagues is in most instances a luxury; WOob gives you an object you can use as a piece of normal office furniture on those days when no desk is required. And finally, older readers will remember the project Bedcrate by Jack Brandsma from the Gronicles #4 showcase at Passagen Cologne 2014. Jack Brandsma and Lisa Kästner should really, urgently, get in touch. No honestly! Get in touch!

Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014 WOob by Lisa Kästner

WOob by Lisa Kästner, as seen at Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014

Stance by Zhaowei Jia (about:form – porcelain/function/meaning)

The seminaer “about:form – porcelain/function/meaning” proved to be a very happy hunting ground for us, producing as it did projects such as Stance by Zhaowei Jia. Quite aside from the undeniable aesthetic charm of the piece, there is something deliciously mischievous, if not dadaistic, about a porcelain knife. Just a genuine joy.

Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014 Stance by Zhaowei Jia

Stance by Zhaowei Jia, as seen at Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014

Gesten der Esskultur by Irene Nitz (Master of Fine Arts Final Project)

Projects involving less than perfect porcelain objects have been very popular for a few years now. The concept invariably being the same; challenging ideas of standardised perfection in a post industrial society. Irene Nitz approaches the subject from a different perspective. A large part of the resource usage in pottery is concerned with heating and firing the kilns. What if you fired objects stacked within one another? Such is possible, but, according to Irene, is generally rejected because of the irregularities in form that arise. But who cares? Resources are finite, if you can fire more pottery for a set amount of resources is that not good? Do we even need to ask that question? We do hope not. In addition to experimenting with various firing strategies Gesten der Esskultur also looked at reusing the so-called kiln furniture, those objects inside the kiln that support the porcelain, ensure order during the firing process and which are currently disposed of after firing.

Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014 Gesten in der Esskultur by Irene Nitz

Gesten der Esskultur by Irene Nitz, as seen at Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014

Akustik in biomorphen Formen by Felicia Schneeweis (about:form – porcelain/function/meaning)

Over the years we’ve seen various porcelain speaker projects, but never one that really got us rocking. Felicia Schneeweis’ Rabbit Ears didn’t quite have us pogoing round the atelier, but we were feeling it. We suspect what’s holding us back is that it is obviously only a product for very tidy people. After two weeks in the (smow) blog flat the things would be so full of dust we might as well be listening to the neighbour’s stereo. But if you keep an orderly ship……………….

Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014 Akustik in biomorphen Formen by Felicia Schneeweis

Akustik in biomorphen Formen by Felicia Schneeweis, as seen at Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014

Torus by Nils Brack (Independent Project)

Ask any novelist for a tip on how to write a bestseller and they’ll invariably tell you to write about what you know. Ideas flow more easily from familiar situations. Similarly a lot of student projects involve solutions for problems that affect students and their friends, rather than say, real world problems. Which isn’t to say that students can’t produce excellent work. As Torus eloquently demonstrates. Essentially Torus is a system for transforming a bed into a practical space when it is not being used for sleeping in. Perfect for those who live in confined spaces where room for furniture is at a premium. Like students. If we’re honest, in the matter of hours since we saw Torus we’ve already mentally developed it further. A lot further. And not just in context of student flats. We hope Nils Brack gets the chance, or better put, takes the chance, to do the same.

Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014 Torus by Nils Brack

Torus by Nils Brack, as seen at Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014

Handwerk Plus by Evelyn Reuß (Bachelor of Fine Arts Final Project)

As a general rule we don’t like knitted furniture and home accessories. Really don’t. Knitting is for jumpers. Projects such as llot llov’s Lucille macramé flower pot holder and Andrea Brena’s arm knitted objects being obvious exceptions. But what attracts us to Handwerk Plus from Evelyn Reuß is less the oh so homely knitted optic and more the fact that having experimented with forms Evelyn started experimenting with materials. Consequently what looks and feels like nothing more advanced than rope, is in fact rope with a iron wire core. The seats have no internal support, no skeleton structure providing stability: are constructed solely from iron wire filled rope. And that we do like. A lot. And we know that there an awful lot of people who do like a knitted optic……. And that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Handwerk Plus in the coming months. Presumably under a new name.

Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014 Handwerk Plus by Evelyn Reuß

Handwerk Plus by Evelyn Reuß, as seen at Bauhaus University Weimar Summaery 2014

Summaery 2014 can be viewed at the Bauhaus University Weimar until Sunday July 13th 2014. In addition to product design the showcase presents works from across the university’s departments including architecture and art.

Full details can be found at

(smow) blog compact: Bundespreis Ecodesign 2013 Exhibition, Umweltbundesamt Dessau

July 10th, 2014

Back in November the winners of the 2013 German Federal Ecodesign Award – the Bundespreis Ecodesign – were announced at a slightly less than glittering ceremony in Berlin. In February 2014 an exhibition featuring the 12 winners and further 19 nominated projects opened in Ludwigsburg. Following a brief stop at the designforum in Vienna the Bundespreis Ecodesign 2013 exhibition is currently being presented at the headquarters of the Umweltbundesamt – the German Federal Environment Agency – in Dessau.

Bundespreis Ecodesign 2013 Exhibition Umweltbundesamt Dessau

Bundespreis Ecodesign 2013 Exhibition at the Umweltbundesamt Dessau

As any fool know, the most ecologically responsible approach to design is of course not to produce things. But given that things in all possible connotations are occasionally necessary, if not desirable: how do we produce them in a sensible, responsible, future-orientated fashion?

Viewing the 2013 Bundespreis Ecodesign exhibition one sees, roughly speaking, four favoured approaches: recycling, new materials and new approaches to energy generation/use. In addition to reducing consumption.

What one also sees is that environmentally responsible design isn’t just about protecting the environment but also about increasing social equality and so not only helping extend the length of time that planet Earth is habitable, but making it a planet we want to inhabit.

Insights that make the sparse but very accessible and informative exhibition very easy to recommend

Not that we’re suggesting anybody should make a special trip to Dessau to view the exhibition, apart from anything else that would be ecologically irresponsible; however, should you find yourself  in Dessau this summer, say visiting Bauhaus Dessau or the exhibition Unter Zwischen im Ampelhaus in Oranienbaum, the  Umweltbundesamt is next door to Dessau train station and it is well worth investing the time for a visit. For everybody else, all nominated and winning projects can be viewed on-line at

The Bundespreis Ecodesign 2013 Exhibition can be viewed in the foyer of the Umweltbundesamt, Wörlitzer Platz 1, 06844 Dessau-Roßlau until Sunday August 24th. Entrance is free.

(smow) blog compact: Finn Juhl – a Danish Design Icon at Design museum Gent

July 8th, 2014

By way of a final addendum to our “5 New Design Exhibitions for July 2014” post, the Design museum Gent are currently hosting an exhibition devoted to one of the true masters of 20th century design, Finn Juhl.

A designer who, as regular readers will be aware, we yield ground to no man to in our admiration for.

Finn Juhl Chieftain Chair

Finn Juhl in his Chieftain Chair (Photo: © Trapholt Museum Kolding, courtesy Design museum Gent)

Born in Frederiksberg, Denmark in 1912 Finn Juhl studied architecture at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Following his graduation in 1934 Finn Juhl took up a position with the modernist architect Vilhelm Lauritzen, before establishing his own studio in 1945. As with many architects of his age Finn Juhl’s first furniture designs were for his own apartment, his public début coming at the 1937 Copenhagen Cabinetmaker’s Guild exhibition. In the same year Finn Juhl’s first works were produced by the Copenhagen cabinet maker Niels Vodder, the beginning of a partnership that lasted until 1959. In addition to Niels Vodder Finn Juhl’s furniture designs were also produced by France & Søn, Ludvig Pontoppidan, Bovirke and Baker Furniture from Grand Rapids, Michigan; a partnership which highlights just one of the differences between Finn Juhl and his compatriot Hans J. Wegner who initially refused to have his furniture produced in America for fear of losing quality of craftsmanship. Being a “pure” architect without any form of carpentry or general craft training Finn Juhl had no such qualms. He trusted that Americans were as skilled craftsmen as their Danish colleagues.

In addition to his furniture designs Finn Juhl also completed numerous notable architecture projects, including Bing & Grøndahl’s flagship store in Copenhagen and the chamber of the UN Trusteeship Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, in addition to teaching at the Copenhagen School of Interior Design and the Institute of Design, Chicago. Finn Juhl died in Copenhagen on  May 17th 1989.

Finn Juhl Poet Sofa

Poet Sofa by Finn Juhl (Photo: © Trapholt Museum Kolding, courtesy Design museum Gent)

From a young age Finn Juhl had planned to follow a career in art history, his father, thankfully, manoeuvring him towards architecture. His passion for art however never left him and contemporary art, and for all abstract sculpture, served as a major influence on his architectural and furniture design work. With flowing, self-confident, almost regal objects such as the Poet Sofa, Chieftain Armchair, Pelican Chair or Eye Table Finn Juhl not only helped introduce complete new form languages and conventions into furniture design but also helped establish the tenacious myth of “Danish Design”.

Finn Juhl – a Danish Design Icon was originally shown in 2012 at the Trapholt Museum of Modern Art, Applied Art, Design And Furniture Design in Kolding, Denmark, and in addition to presenting examples of Finn Juhl’s work also explains the source of his various inspirations, how he interpreted them into his work, juxtapositions Finn Juhl with his contemporaries and so helps explain why Finn Juhl is such an important designer. And why his works are more than just endearing visual masterpieces.

Finn Juhl – a Danish Design Icon runs at Design museum Gent, Jan Breydelstraat 5, 9000 Gent until Sunday October 12th 2014.

Full details can be found at www.designmuseumgent.

Finn Juhl through One Collection. Here at CODE 10, Copenhagen

Direktorenhaus Berlin: Summer Break VA / Neue Arbeiten

July 7th, 2014

As if to help underscore the assertion in our “5 New Design Exhibitions for July 2014” Post that July and August tend to be quiet months in terms of design and architecture exhibitions because near everyone is on holiday, Berlin’s Direktorenhaus Gallery have titled their 2014 summer exhibition “Summer Break VA”. The VA being shorthand for “various artists”.

“We’re not here” they seem to be saying, “but if we were here, these are the sort of delights you could enjoy”

Direktorenhaus Berlin Summer Break VA Neue Arbeiten Mark Braun Fortune

Fortune by Mark Braun, as seen at Summer Break VA / Neue Arbeiten, Direktorenhaus Berlin

Established in 2010 Direktorenhaus Berlin is, predominately, a location for contemporary art – the owners also being responsible for the annual Illustrative Festival of illustration and graphic art. However, despite their more artistic focus over the years the Direktorenhaus has curated numerous exhibitions devoted to contemporary product designers, perhaps most notably Vienna based studio Vandasye or the young British designer Benjamin Hubert, in addition to the 2012 exhibition Handmade in Germany which presented objects by 30 designers and manufacturers whose work, in the curators opinion, not only reflects a high-quality of craftsmanship but a commitment to traditional production methods and of small(er) scale production over mass market.

Handmade in Germany also presents the context of Summer Break VA / Neue Arbeiten.

More or less.

This coming autumn Handmade in Germany will be presented in St Petersberg as the first stage of a two year global tour. By way of a convivial “Bon Voyage”, or perhaps better out “Счастливого пути”, the Direktorenhaus Berlin are showcasing selected works by eight young(ish) German product design studios who although not included in the Handmade in Germany exhibition compliment the showcase’s focus in that their work, largely, demonstrates a commitment to finding contemporary applications for traditional production process and reinterpretations of traditional forms and practices

Direktorenhaus Berlin Summer Break VA Neue Arbeiten Rejon Armchair Valter

Rejon Armchair & Valter shelving system, as seen at Summer Break VA / Neue Arbeiten, Direktorenhaus Berlin

Although presenting eight design studios, the lion’s share of the exhibition space is given over to Potsdam based Rejon.

A decision with which we have no problem.

We can’t remember exactly when we were first introduced to Rejon’s work, suspect it was in context of a Fachhochschule Potsdam student show; we are however certain that since we first saw the work we have been fascinated by the studio’s output. Characterised by an almost brutalist clarity of form and material Rejon’s work has a lightness, naturalness and easy accessibility that makes it very difficult to resist. In addition, with objects such as the “table lamp” or the “plant pot table” Rejon offer products that present new perspectives on domestic furniture and so open new possibilities for the organisation of our living spaces.

For all unfamiliar with Rejon Summer Break VA / Neue Arbeiten is an excellent starting point.

Aside from Rejon Summer Break VA features works by Florian Schmid, Daniel Becker, Maria Bruun, Rimma Tchilingarian and established (smow) blog favourites Uli Budde, Karoline Fesser and Mark Braun. The furniture and accessories being wonderfully supported by painting and illustrations by Berlin based artist Martin Haake.

Despite the implication in the exhibition title not all the works on show are especially new, one or the other is in truth very old, but what links them is not only their use of craft but much more their deeper significance. At first glance all objects appear to be very simple works created for their visual charm alone; a deeper look however reveals objects that in their genesis, functionality or production process represent an attempt on the designer’s part to focus attention on aspects of our contemporary lifestyles, consumption patterns and/or resource use.

Mark Braun’s Fortune carafes, for example, being unashamedly luxury items, but luxury items that force the owner to reflect on the fact that water is increasingly becoming a luxury item; Mirror Mirror by Maria Bruun extending a mirrors traditional field of vision in the hope of encouraging us all to do the same; while Rejon with their focus on close co-operations with local craftsman proving that all often the best really is to be found on your own doorstep.

Direktorenhaus Berlin Summer Break VA Neue Arbeiten C58 dressing table Florian Schmid All Wood Stool Karoline Fesser

Carla by Florian Schmid - available through Zeitraum - and All Wood Stool by Karoline Fesser, as seen at Summer Break VA / Neue Arbeiten, Direktorenhaus Berlin

Almost the perfect summer design exhibition – not especially extensive nor taxing and staged in a space almost as impressive as the works on display – Summer Break VA / Neue Arbeiten is more about allowing the selected designers to present a visiting card, their credentials, than it is about any in-depth exploration of contemporary design per se

Which is fine. And for us the point of such group exhibitions.

The only slight problem for us is that as with all exhibitions in the Direktorenhaus Berlin viewing is by advance appointment only. We understand why that is, but just feel that for such a light summer exhibition one could have found a lighter, more summery, solution.

Summer Break VA / Neue Arbeiten runs until Wednesday July 30th at Direktorenhaus Berlin, Am Krögel 2  10179 Berlin.

Full details and contact information for arranging a visit can be found at

(smow) blog compact: It takes more than one by mischer’traxler at Design Miami Basel 2014

July 5th, 2014

When we met up with Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler aka mischer’traxler ahead of the exhibition Castling. Designers meet the collection at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden, we also briefly discussed their “It takes more than one” project which was presented at Design Miami Basel 2014 by Victor Hunt Designart Dealer.

Created in context of the studio’s tenure as the 2011 “W-Hotels Designer of the future”, It takes more than one is a mirror that requires two people for it to function.

And as such is a reminder, if not a warning, for our increasingly narcissistic modern society that self-reflection is a process that requires external input. Despite an all-encompassing belief to the contrary, as an individual you cannot develop and mature by yourself. You need help. You need interaction. Need to trust people and ask for help if you want to grow.

mischer’traxler advised us that would be quite a difficult object to photograph.

They hadn’t bargained on us managing to rope in John Stam from Commonplace Studio and “Victor Hunt”* himself to help us. Or of us having loads of time on our hands.

* We sadly can no longer read our note of the galerist’s real name. Apologies! And thanks!

It takes more than one by mischer’traxler

It takes more than one by mischer’traxler at Victor Hunt Designart Dealer, Design Miami Basel 2014

It takes more than one by mischer’traxler

As Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston taught us......

It takes more than one by mischer’traxler

..... it takes two baby!

(smow) blog compact: We Traders. Tausche Krise Gegen Stadt at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien Berlin

July 4th, 2014

Weltstadt – Who creates the city?“, we wrote in our review of the eponymous exhibition at the Deutsches Architektur Zentrum, DAZ Berlin, “is about promoting a dialogue, of encouraging discussion and for all about motivating each and every one of us to think about our own communities and our own cities and to consider what could be improved. And for all how.”

Practical examples of just how projects to achieve such could be organised and what they could, potentially, achieve can currently be studied in the exhibition We Traders. Tausche Krise Gegen Stadt – We Traders. Swapping Crisis for City -  at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien Berlin.

We Traders Tausche Krise Gegen Stadt at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien Berlin

We Traders - Tausche Krise Gegen Stadt at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin

The similarities between “Who creates the city” and “We Traders” is naturally no chance occurrence; We Traders is, in effect, a sub-project of Who creates the city and is funded from the same funds made available by the Goethe-Institut, the German state culture institute. Following showcases in Madrid and Turin, Berlin represents the half way point on the exhibition’s tour.

Presenting 24 projects from 5 European cities We Traders aims to show the possibilities offered by alternative, de-central initiatives while at the same time inspiring visitors to think more critically about their own town, community, environment.

And so we have, for example, the Miraorti urban gardening project in Turin, Cozinha popular da Mouraria, a collective cooking project in Lisbon that seeks to foster a closer, more integrated community or Bois & Cie in Toulouse which seeks to promote and encourage more recycling of timber and better, more environmentally and socially responsible, construction. That the exhibition is currently showing in Berlin projects from the city naturally form a central focus; specifically the urban gardening organisation Allmende-Kontor, the betahaus co-working space, Open Design City co-workshop space, the Initiative Möckernkiez which is building a communal residential district in Berlin and Rütli-Wear, a clothing company established in a Berlin school in context of an anti-stigmatisation programme.

Despite the relatively limited space available in the Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien the intelligent exhibition design concept from Berlin based designer Alex Vader allows for an easy to follow, accessible and for all entertaining exhibition.

Yes there is a lot of voting to be done on the way round and opinions to be expressed, but then given that most of the projects set very loud “plenum” alarm bells ringing, that is probably to be expected.

And doesn’t in any way distract from the enjoyment.

Not least because, and unlike your average plenum, you don’t have to participate. Or indeed spend the first two hours of a half hour meeting discussing if you can begin or not.

Probably more important than the exhibition however is the fringe programme of workshops, presentations and discussion by and in context of the 24 featured initiatives and We Traders’ wider foci. More or less every day of the exhibition’s six week stay in Berlin sees some form of event.

We Traders Tausche Krise Gegen Stadt at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien Berlin

We Traders - Tausche Krise Gegen Stadt at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin

The background to We Traders is relatively simple: the effects of the financial crises in Europe have focussed attention on the need to analyse our existing social, cultural and economic models while at the same time looking for possible alternative structures, different ways of organising ourselves, to ensure a more resilient society and so avoid the problems currently being experienced in many regions of Europe.

Not all featured projects represent new ideas. The context in which they are being tested is however new. And that is what makes them, and the exhibition, so interesting and worth exploring. As with Who creates the city, you won’t like all the projects nor agree with all the positions. But they are all worth getting to know.

We Traders. Tausche Krise Gegen Stadt runs at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin until Sunday August 17th and is presented bi-lingual German/English.

Following Berlin the exhibition can be viewed in Lisbon and Toulouse.

All projects can also be viewed on line at

(A truly ridiculous URL which tends to indicate that the Goethe-Institut themselves need to alter the way they approach everyday problems and situations……..)

(smow) blog compact: Aufbruch! Architektur der 1950er Jahre. Photographic exhibition in Stiftung Stadtgedächtnis Cologne

July 2nd, 2014

Popular opinion is that old buildings deserve be preserved, restored, used and loved.

Popular opinion however has a very singular and narrow definition of “old.” A definition normally based on a simplified, generic, understanding of visual beauty rather than age or historical relevance.

Something that means a lot of 1950s buildings are all too often classed as meaningless post-war quick-fixes.

And so ignored.

Allowed to fall in disrepair.


Munich based photographer Hans Engels felt something needed to be done and so started the photo project “Aufbruch! Architektur der 1950er Jahre” – Takeoff! 1950s Architecture – to highlight some of the delights of 1950s architecture still to be found in Germany.

The photo project became a book and the book has become an exhibition which from Thursday July 3rd can be enjoyed at the Stiftung Stadtgedächtnis in Cologne.

Presenting 23 large format photos by Hans Engels the exhibition aims to show that 1950s architecture isn’t all about soulless concrete functionality but does include some truly delightful objects that are not only valuable architectural creations in their own right, but which have also contributed positively to the story of German architecture.

Buildings such as the Park-Café in Cologne’s Rheinpark.

Designed by Austrian architect Rambald von Steinbüchel-Rheinwall in context of the 1957 Cologne Garden Festival, the Park-Café is characterised by a free standing kidney shaped roof terrace floating above a glass fronted first floor dining room. And is very much a building of its time. Organic, modern and completely untroubled by any inclination as to what either of those terms may mean.

It is also currently empty. A situation the initiative Perle sucht Dame hope to change.

The exhibition Aufbruch! Architektur der 1950er Jahre has been organised by Perle sucht Dame with the intention of helping stimulate a debate about our relationship to 1950s architecture and so encourage more people to take an active interest in those works that surround them. Such as the Park-Café.

Aufbruch! Architektur der 1950er Jahre runs at the Stiftung Stadtgedächtnis, Große Budengasse 10, 50667 Cologne from Thursday July 3rd until Saturday August 30th 2014.

Park-Café Rheinpark Koln

Park-Café Rheinpark Cologne (Photo:

5 New Design Exhibitions for July 2014

June 30th, 2014

Tradition being the predictable beast that it is, July and August tend to be quiet months in the design universe – most everyone taking themselves off to their Gîtes, Dachas, Ferienwohnungen, Vakantiehuis and lakeside bungalows for a few weeks of quiet reflection ahead of the autumn trade fair and design week season.

Most. But not all.

A few hardy souls remain, stocking the furnaces of creative culture with architecture and design based exhibitions intended to inspire, excite and entertain.

Our five hot coals from the new offerings opening during July 2014………

“Disobedient Objects” at the V&A, London, England

In recent years “social design” and “critical design” have become increasingly present as ever more people realise that design isn’t a profession, but a way of thinking, and a force for change. Or at least can serve as an impetus for change. And something that is much more effective than songs or poetry. Such concepts however are nothing new and from July 26th, and as far as we are aware in the first exhibition of its kind, the V&A in London is presenting an exploration of the role of art and design in social and political change. Looking at, for example, objects created in context of direct action and solidarity protests, the architecture and planning of protest camps and methods of communication designed to avoid censorship, Disobedient Objects also promises to present case studies of specific protest actions including Guerrilla Girls masks and an action by the Barbie Liberation Organisation in which GI Joe and Barbie voiceboxes were switched to highlight gender stereotyping. Especially interesting is that many of the items on show have been loaned by activist groups themselves, making Disobedient Objects not only a unique exhibition but an institutional acknowledgement of the activists efforts.

Disobedient Objects opens at the Porter Gallery, V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL on Saturday July 26th and runs until Sunday February 1st.

Disobedient Objects at the V&A London

Inflatable cobblestone, action by Eclectic Electric Collective in co-operation with Enmedio collective during the General Strike in Barcelona, 2012 (Photo: © Oriana Eliçabe/

“NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial” at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, USA

In a similar vein to the V&A’s exhibition the New York Museum of Arts and Design is devoting its summer 2014 exhibition to 100 New York “Makers”: that sub-genre of creative who ignore traditional rules, institutions, definitions and models and simply……. make.

The 100 Makers presented in the exhibition were selected by the museum’s Director Glenn Adamson and exhibition curator Jake Yuzna from a long list nominated by a “selection panel” comprised of 300 figures from the New York cultural and creative scenes. At this point we should really write something along the lines of: “Featuring a who’s who of the New York maker scene…..”; but we recognise hardly any of the names on the list.

Which is one of those things that makes the exhibition so interesting for us: the chance to explore, discover, not like, learn, not understand, adore….

And to discover exactly how Gaetano Pesce, the Metropolitan Opera and Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band fit into the melee.

In addition to a presentation of projects by the 100 Makers the exhibition also features an accompanying fringe programme of performances, culinary events and fashion shows, and thus promises to provide an interesting, informative and for all accessible introduction to the current maker scene in New York.

NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial opens at the Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019 on Tuesday July 1st and runs until Sunday October 12th

NYC Makers The MAD Biennial at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York

NYC Makers The MAD Biennial at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York

“The Good Cause: Architecture of Peace – Divided Cities”, at the Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität München, Germany

Much like sports officials never tire of telling us how positive their particular sport is for the development of a peaceful, healthy, stable society, so to are architects always available for a quick quote about how their constructions make the world a better place. But how much truth exists behind such sound-bites? And given the nagging suggestions that war, famine, suffering and poverty may in fact be rife on our planet, what can architecture actually do for society?

No honestly, what?

The TU Munich Architecture Museum’s exhibition may not directly answer such a question, but does aim to show the positive that can be achieved when projects are developed in close co-operation with the local community, their needs, histories and traditions. Rather than just parachuted in by a headline hungry st*r architect.

The first part of the exhibition presents examples of reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, South Africa, Israel, Palestine, Rwanda and Kosovo which in the curators opinion show the positive, healing, powers of architecture. The second part of the exhibition is more specific, looking as it does at the problems associated with divided cities, in particular Belfast, Nicosia, Mitrovica and Mostar.

Sounding very much like a conflict specific version of the excellent Netherlands Architecture Institute exhibition “Testify! The Consequences of Architecture”, The Good Cause promises to provide some interesting perspectives on the role of professional planning and architecture in post conflict situations.

The Good Cause: Architecture of Peace – Divided Cities opens at the Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität München, Pinakothek der Moderne, Barer Straße 40, 80333 München on Thursday July 17th and runs until Sunday October 19th

The Good Cause Architecture of Peace Divided Cities at the Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität München

Visitor Centre, Pamir-i-Buzurg, Afghanistan (Photo: AFIR Architects / Anne Feenstra)

“Pierre Charpin” at L’Appartement 50, Marseille, France

In 1952 Le Corbusier completed construction of his La Cité Radieuse project. A 165 m long, 24 m deep and 56 m high block of 337 apartments in the southern quarter of Marseille, La Cité Radieuse represented Le Corbusier’s vision of the future of urban living.

In 2008 Jean-Marc Drut, resident of Apartment Number 50 invited Jasper Morrison to furnish said apartment with a selection of his works, and works by others which Morrison felt complemented his own works, the apartment and Le Corbusier’s intentions with La Cité Radieuse. And then opened the display to the public.

A sort of positive antithesis to George Orwell’s (in)famous Room 101.

In 2010 Jean-Marc Drut repeated the exercise with Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec and in 2012 with Konstantin Grcic.

The 2014 edition of the L’Appartement 50 Biennale, as we believe it now deserves to be called, sees Paris based Pierre Charpin take on the challenge.

Promising a representative collection of Charpin’s works for clients as varied as Galerie Kreo, Ligne Roset, Post Design and Venini, and thus an excellent opportunity to get know more about the designer and his oeuvre, the exhibition is also a wonderful opportunity to get to know, and understand, one of the most interesting moments in the story of European modernist architecture.

Pierre Charpin at L’Appartement 50 opens at Unité d’habitation Le Corbusier, Appartement 50 / 5ème rue, 280 Boulevard Michelet 13008 Marseille on Tuesday July 15th and runs until Friday August 15th

Pierre Charpin at L'Appartement 50, Marseille

Pierre Charpin at L'Appartement 50, Marseille

“Unter Zwischen im Ampelhaus”, at Ampelhaus, Oranienbaum, Germany

If Berlin’s star as the most creative centre in Germany is waning. And if Leipzig’s star as the most creative centre in Germany is ascending. Then Oranienbaum, positioned as it is half way between the two, is obviously the celestial source of all creativity in Germany.

A fact we suspect the Oranienbaum based galley Ampelhaus will ably prove this summer.

Following on from 2013′s King Size: Art and Design fit for a King, and 2012′s Use it Again, Ampelhaus’ 2014 exhibition sees them explore the underbelly of contemporary art and design. Or at least their own cellar. The artistic intervention that last year saw the first floor of the gallery be transformed into an exhibition space despite strict fire regulations restricting public use to the ground floor, being inverted to allow access to the cellar. Thus turning the gallery, in the organisers words, into een levensgrote kijkdoos, “a life-size diorama” in which the presented objects are largely viewed from afar through gaps and openings.

Which sounds more like een levensgrote Zwitserse kaas to be perfectly honest.

And that, at the moment, is all we can say about Unter Zwischen im Ampelhaus. For we have no further information. Other than it will feature works by Dutch and German artists and designers. But something in the bottom of our collective stomach tells us it will be well worth visiting.

Unter Zwischen im Ampelhaus opens at Ampelhaus, Brauerstraße 33, 06785 Oranienbaum on Saturday July 12th and runs until Saturday September 20th

King Size Art and Design Fit for a King Ampelhaus Oranienbaum

Ampelhaus, Oranienbaum

Fabriek van Niek – nachBAR for the Dutch Embassy in Berlin: Reprise

June 29th, 2014

As we noted in our original post on Niek Wagemans’ nachBAR project for the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, we sadly had to depart Berlin before construction was finished.

“What we’ve seen so far however impresses.”, we noted, “And we can’t imagine our position will change dramatically.”

It hasn’t.

A delightfully compact, well proportioned and very welcoming object, nachBAR proudly presents it origins and with its sheet steel cladding and rounded edges radiates something of the aura, and arguably spirit, of Jean Prouvé, while remaining very much its own object.

And an object that more that holds its own against Rem Koolhaas’ Dutch Embassy. Despite, or maybe because of, the difference of scale.

But as we noted in our original post, nachBAR isn’t about the architectural merits or otherwise of the finished work. But how the object came about and what it represents. And for all how everyone who comes into contact with it interprets the ethos behind the project and applies the conclusions they reach to their own life.

The nachBAR has now been parked within the safe confines of the Embassy but will be used, as a café/bar, on a regular basis.

If you get the chance to enjoy a drink there do take it.

And who knows, with the Oranje doing so well at the football world cup maybe the Ambassador himself will pull a few celebratory, neighbourly, beers should Holland win.

Just a thought……………….

A few impressions:

(smow) blog compact: Petstools by Hanna Emelie Ernsting in the VitraHaus….

June 28th, 2014

In our post on the Pulpo Galerie in Lörrach we noted that “you don’t get your products shown in the VitraHaus just because you happen to have the correct postcode…….”

Being local doesn’t count. Isn’t an advantage. Your work must be good. And as if to prove our point……

Jason Miller’s postcode is New York 11232 and his Modo chandelier for Roll and Hill can be found in the VitraHaus.

Lars Beller Fjetland‘s postcode is 5032 Bergen and his Re-Turned birds for Discipline can be found in the VitraHaus.

Hanna Emelie Ernsting’s postcode is 60487 Frankfurt am Main….. and her delightful Petstools family have now inhabited the VitraHaus.

And look very, very much at home!

We first came across the Petstools family at the 2013 Cologne Design week Showcase “Objects for the Neighbour” before meeting them again at DMY Berlin 2013 and then most recently on Hanna Emelie Ernsting’s stand at Salone Satellite 2014 in Milan, and it’s probably fair to say that with every meeting our appreciation of the product has grown.

More than just stools with a cartoon-esque charm, Petstools are footstools designed to allow you to bury your feet into the material; thus allowing you to warm cold feet on an autumn evening or simply find security, solace, tenderness even, after a particularly long, tiring day at the office. Comfort famously not just being what you sit on, but how you feel. A state of mind.

And yes with their cute animal optic they are also a welcoming sight when you arrive home after said long, tiring day.

Hanna Emelie Ernsting produces and markets Petstools herself, full details can be found at

Petstools Hanna Emelie Ernsting VitraHaus Daisy

Daisy from the Petstools family from Hanna Emelie Ernsting relaxing with some new friends in the VitraHaus


Petstools Hanna Emelie Ernsting VitraHaus Ella Alcove Bouroullec

Ella gets to know the Alcove Sofa by Ronann and Erwan Bouroullec

Petstools Hanna Emelie Ernsting VitraHaus Daisy Oda Artek Karuselli

Daisy, the Karuselli lounge chair by Yrjö Kukkapuro through Artek and the Oda lamp by Sebsatian Herkner for Pulpo


Petstools Hanna Emelie Ernsting VitraHaus Ella forest

Ella escapes from the public for a quite rest in the VitraHaus "forest"