April 2014, as every April we can ever remember, means Milanese purgatory.
Apparently it is meant to cleanse the soul, purify our thoughts and generally mitigate for the sins of the past, and so allow us to proceed to higher plains and greater virtues.
And boy must we have sinned. We can’t remember exactly when, far less how. We just hope we enjoyed it at the time. Because now we are paying.
When, if, we return these are the new design exhibitions we’re planning on visiting to help us recover.
“Sitting – Lying – Swinging. Furniture from Thonet” at the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts, Leipzig, Germany
As we have repeated on numerous occasions in the past, the back catalogue and archive of German manufacturer Thonet is of the kind to make the soul of even the most hardened design critic melt with longing. As one would, should, expect from a furniture manufacturer who have helped usher in two furniture design revolutions: the industrial production of furniture through mass-scale wood bending in the late 19th century and the use of bent steel tubing in the early 20th century.
The Grassi Museum for Applied Arts in Leipzig however have chosen to, more or less, ignore these moments, and so the first 130 years of the company history, and focus instead on furniture produced since the end of World War II in the company’s Frankenberg (Eder) base.
A decision that is as brave as it is commendable.
Presenting some 130 items the exhibition promises to present well known, lesser known and unknown works by the likes of Stefan Diez, Konstantin Grcic, Sir Norman Foster, Verner Panton or Alfredo Häberli.
The first ever major presentation of Thonet’s contemporary output Sitting – Lying – Swinging not only promises to allow a chance to place the more modern works in the company’s tradition and history but also to understand the role Thonet continues to play in the development of contemporary furniture design. We suspect it will also illustrate how, and why, the company lost its way a little in the wake of the the cultural and aesthetic rethinking of the 1980s, before regaining ground in the past decade.
Sitting – Lying – Swinging. Furniture from Thonet opens at the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts, Johannisplatz 5-11, 04103 Leipzig on Thursday April 17th and runs until Sunday September 14th.
The bar stool 404H and chair 404 by Stefan Diez awaiting lacquering at Thonet's Frankenberg (Eder) production facility.
“Otl Aicher – Ordnungssinn und Dolce Vita. Fotografien der 1950er Jahre” at the HfG-Archiv Ulm, Germany
Although best known as a graphic designer, and for all through his work for Braun, Lufthansa and the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, Otl Aicher was a classically trained sculptor and so was, unsurprisingly, active in other artistic fields. Including photography.
The first exhibition of Otl Aicher’s photography for many a long decade, Ordnungssinn und Dolce Vita is, in effect, two exhibitions in one skin.
The Ordnungssinn – Sense of order – is explored through a presentation of some 50 original prints from a recently rediscovered collection of Otl Aicher photographs from the 1950s. Largely depicting landscapes and “structures” the exhibition organisers promise that the displayed works will allow both a glimpse into how Aicher perceived and understood the environment around him and also document the spirit of change/chance of the 1950s.
In addition to the rediscovered works the exhibition will also (re)present an exhibition of Otl Aicher’s photos that was originally shown in the Ulmer Museum in 1959 and which, and assuming we’ve understood the exhibition information correctly, largely presents studies from a tour of Italy undertaken by Aicher, and which present the Dolce Vita of the 1950s that still dominates German impressions of Italy. A particular highlight, if you think like us, promises to be an image of a non-leaning tower of Pisa – an image that unifies Ordnungssinn and Dolce Vita.
Otl Aicher – Ordnungssinn und Dolce Vita. Fotografien der 1950er Jahre opens at the HfG Studio, HfG-Archiv, Am Hochsträß 8, 89081 Ulm on Friday April 11th and runs until Sunday October 12th
Otl Aicher - Ordnungssinn und Dolce Vita. Fotografien der 1950er Jahre" at the HfG-Archiv Ulm (Photos: Otl Aicher © Florian Aicher / HfG-Archiv/Ulmer Museum, Germany)
“Okolo Offline” at Depot Basel, Basel, Switzerland
After what feels like an eternity, everyone’s favourite Basel based design collective finally return with a new exhibition. An exhibition devoted to everyone’s favourite Prague based design collective, Okolo.
Established in 2009 by Jakub Štěch, Matěj Činčera, Adam Štěch and Jan Kloss Okolo have spent the past five years designing, curating exhibitions and publishing – online and offline.
Okolo Offline promises to give 25 Okolo blog posts from the past five years a physical, tactile form and so – hopefully – help explain the group, their approach to and understanding of contemporary creativity and so introduce the collective and their work to a wider audience.
In addition to the exhibition itself Okolo Offline also marks the launch of MINUTE a series of short films on design history produced by Okolo.
Okolo Offline opens at Depot Basel, Voltastrasse 43, 4056 Basel on Friday March 28th and runs until Sunday April 27th.
Okolo Offline at Depot Basel...... Basel
“Ola Kolehmainen – Geometric Light” at Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany
“I use architecture as a starting point and source of inspiration, not as the ultimate final result. In fact my work is an examination of space, light and color, which reflect and question our way of looking at things.”
So explains the Finnish photographer Ola Kolehmainen his approach to his work. An approach that is as structured and methodical in its preparation as it is abstract and deconstructed in its result.
Until May 17th the Berlin gallery Haus am Waldsee is presenting Ola Kolehmainen’s latest project “Geometric Light” a series of photographs in which he ignores the buildings even more than before and concentrates on the light and shadow within and around the works.
Inspired and initiated by and during a tour of Spain in 2013 Geometric Light includes works from that Spanish tour in addition to photos originating, for example, in the Hagia Sophia.
Originating in. Not necessarily “of”……
Ola Kolehmainen – Geometric Light opens at Haus am Waldsee, Argentinische Allee 30, 14163 Berlin, Germany on Saturday April 5th and runs until May 17th
Ola Kolehmainen, Konstruktivizm Infantil XII, 2013 (© Ola Kolehmainen, Courtesy: Gallery Taik)
“WEGNER – Just one good chair” at the Designmuseum Danmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
Hans J. Wegner is one of the most important representatives of Danish modern design. We know this because it is invariably the opening sentence of any given Wegner biography.
Yet he remains a designer about whom there is a genuine dearth of reliable, insightful information. And certainly a subject of much fewer books and exhibitions than most of his contemporaries.
And so punctually to his 100th Birthday the Designmuseum Danmark Copenhagen are presenting the largest, most in depth exhibition devoted to Hans J. Wegner and his oeuvre ever staged.
Presenting some 150 exhibits, including original furniture, drawings, models and photographs, Just one good chair promises not only to explain Wegner’s life and work, but also through analysing Wegner’s contribution to the Danish design tradition also explain how Danish Modernism and Organic Modernism in general developed. And how that all led to the abiding myth of Danish Design as a style in its own right.
In addition to the Wegner objects, Just one good chair promises to round the history by juxtaposing Wegner’s work with that of his contemporary such as Charles & Ray Eames, Finn Juhl or Arne Jacobsen and contemporary designers including Jasper Morrison or Konstantin Grcic.
WEGNER – Just one good chair opens at the Designmuseum Danmark, Bredgade 68, 1260 Copenhagen on Thursday April 3rd and runs until Sunday November 2nd
Hans J Wegner (l.) and Johannes Hansen (r.) inspect a JH550/PP550 "Peacock Chair" (Photo: Designmuseum Danmark, Copenhagen)