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Gestures belong to the oldest of human actions and interactions. Have accompanied mankind through good times and bad, through its innumerate technical, cultural and social revolutions.

And are so intuitive, we are often barely aware of them.

With the exhibition Gestures – Past, Present and Future, the Sächsische Industriemuseum Chemnitz explores not only the (hi)story and importance of gestures, but for all their role in our smart, digital, autonomous futures.

Gestures - Past, Present and Future at the Sächsische Industriemuseum Chemnitz


Visitors to the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig have long been able to rest on Jasper Morrison’s Vitra Bench, an object liberally distributed throughout the museum complex.

With the exhibition Thingness the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig offers visitors a deeper insight into Jasper Morrison’s oeuvre, and creative processes.

Jasper Morrison - Thingness @ Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig


As any fule kno, an echo requires a surface off which to reflect.

Otherwise it is just shouting into the void.

With the exhibition Echoes – 100 Years in Finnish Design and Architecture at the Felleshus, Berlin, that reflective surface is the traditions, cultures and landscapes of north-east Europe.

Echoes - 100 Years in Finnish Design and Architecture @ Felleshus, The Nordic Embassies, Berlin


The old adage that the only certainties in life are death and taxes has become (more than) a little passé of late.

However even the accountants and investment bankers cannot, yet, avoid death.

With the exhibition Tod & Ritual – Kulturen von Abschied und Erinnerung the Staatliches Museum für Archäologie Chemnitz, smac, explore the historical and cultural traditions and rituals of that last remaining timeless, universal, and utterly inescapable phenomenon.

Tod & Ritual - Kulturen von Abschied und Erinnerung, Staatliches Museum für Archäologie Chemnitz


Back in the day one of the joys of reading the British Yellow Pages was the entry for Boring: “See Civil Engineers”*

Oh how we laughed! And still do!

Partly to counter such negative associations, partly to explain what Civil Engineers do, and partly to explain just how fundamentally that what Civil Engineers do has contributed to our contemporary society, and the multitude of possibilities available to us, whether we choose to take them or not, the Oskar von Miller Forum Munich is staging the exhibition Visionäre und Alltagshelden. Ingenieure – Bauen – Zukunft.

Visionäre und Alltagshelden. Ingenieure – Bauen – Zukunft @ the Oskar von Miller Forum Munich


When we spoke with designer Patrick Frey in context of our #campustour, the plan was quite simply to discuss contemporary design education; however, the natural flow of the conversation took us in a raft of interesting directions, including his experiences as a freelance designer, the question of development payments in the furniture industry and the background to his and Markus Boge’s joint diploma project, a project in many regards personified by the tables Kant and Marketing.

Kant by Patrick Frey & Markus Boge for Nils Holger Moormann


Can innovation be an end to itself? Are we living in excess? Do things bewilder and inspire us still? Does a museum collection inevitably lose its link to reality as time goes by? What is good design?

The exhibition Hella Jongerius & Louise Schouwenberg – Beyond the New at Die Neue Sammlung Munich poses a lot of questions.

Questions which needn’t necessarily find answers, but which should serve as inspiration and motivation to further questions, and thus a deeper discourse on design.

Hella Jongerius & Louise Schouwenberg - Beyond the New, Die Neue Sammlung - The Design Museum, Munich


Architects are always very keen to stress how they are working in the interests of society, for society. Often selflessly so.

Yet little polarises society quite like architecture.

And no architecture polarises quite like Brutalism.

Whereas in discourses on other architectural genres the middle ground is a place where those of moderate opinions can meet objectively and attempt to approach one another’s position: there are no Brutalism moderates.

With the exhibition SOS Brutalism – Save the Concrete Monsters, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt becomes that objective middle ground and thereby enables a very welcome discussion on Brutalism, its origins and its legacy.

SOS Brutalism - Save the Concrete Monsters at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt


Modular lighting is a seldom encountered genre, and when it is encountered, then invariably in a very technical form, a form that implies the computer software has taken a greater role in the creative process than the designers understanding of form-giving,

There are however exceptions…..

304 by Nick Beens, as seen at Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2017


While figuratively “blowing the roof off” is arguably an aim of every design festival; physically having your roof blown off is not.

Sadly that is what happened to Designblok Prague 2017; Storm Herwart, when not completely de-roofing the Art Deco Palace of Industry which hosted the event, causing damage sufficient to force organisers the cancel the last two days of the five day festival.

A situation not only unfortunate and irksome for the organisers and exhibitors, but disappointing all those who had planned spending the Sunday and/or Monday at the event.

Does however give the organisers a relevant and fitting theme for Designblok Prague 2018 …… but before we get there, our Designblok Prague 2017 High 5!!

Designblok Prague 2017: High Five!!


Although as an event Dutch Design Week has always had a focus on presenting design in context, design in practice, our feeling is that of late that focus has intensified, something we thoroughly approve of as it helps make tangible that design is, can be, more than pretty objects; does however mean that you increasingly need to take more time with you to Eindhoven. Or accept that you are going to miss a lot of, potentially, interesting and thought provoking presentations.

Necessity meant that this year we followed option two.

But that still left us more than enough time to discover projects to get cross about, be confused by or simply quietly admire.

Or indeed vocally admire: our Dutch Design Week 2017 High Five!!

Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2017: High Five!!


Like gardens mottled with the vibrant leaves of autumn, so too is November 2017 bestrewn with a multicoloured carpet of new design and architecture exhibitions. We could have published three such lists, seriously considered it …. have however instead taken the opportunity to bring our monthly recommendations average up to where it should be. Five.

Back in August we only had four new recommendations, and so to compensate summer’s shortfall, here we present six, technically seven. Although it could have been 15.

Which all of course means you, dear reader, have no excuse for not visiting a new design or architecture exhibition, for wherever you may be, there is one opening near you. So get out there and start raking up those leaves exhibitions!!!

5 New Design Exhibitions for November 2017


In context of Designblok Prague 2017 the winners of the fourth edition of the pan-European design graduate competition Diploma Selection were unveiled at a ceremony in the city’s Palace of Industry.

Diploma Selection 2017 winners, nominated, jury, Uncle Tom Cobley and all at Designblok Prague 2017


“Marcel Breuer seeing a pair of bicycle handle-bars decided to make chairs using the same industrial process”, notes Jasper Morrison in his text, The Poet will not Polish, “the new world constructor seeing a pair of bicycle handle-bars decides to use them as they are and save himself the trouble and expense of bending the tube.”*

On seeing an aluminium tube, Eindhoven based studio OS ∆ OOS followed, in many respects, a similar logic. The result is the Tunnel collection.

OS ∆ OOS @ Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2017


Algorithms as dance, a tactile architecture guide and a future-proof flat sharing platform.

On Thursday October 26th the winners of the 2017 Kölner Design Preis were unveiled at a ceremony in the city’s Museum für Angewandte Kunst, MAKK; and where until Sunday November 19th the three winning, and all nominated, projects, can be viewed in a specially conceived Kölner Design Preis 2017 exhibition.

Kölner Design Preis 2017 exhibition at Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln, MAKK


As we believe we’ve noted before, the joy in that exhibition format in which designers present objects which are important and/or relevant to them, is that no matter how often it is repeated it is always new.

Same, same, but different.

For their 2017 show Dutch Invertuals are presenting collections of objects from 45 alumni which have an importance to/relevance for them, or which simply represent an object of wonder and inspiration to the relevant designer. And because it’s Dutch Invertuals they have taken things a step further and each collection is also the starting point for the development a personal container.

Exposing yourself and then using that as the basis for visibly enclosing yourself. A double encapsulation, If you will.

Dutch Invertuals - Fundamentals, Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2017


“The problem of the construction of affordable housing for the lowest earning sections of the population is currently a primary concern in almost all civilized countries.”

Thus invited the Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne to their second congress, a three day event which opened on Thursday October 24th 1929 in the Palmengarten Frankfurt am Main, and which saw some of the leading protagonists of inter-war architecture discuss potential solutions for that most primary of concerns.

The success of the Frankfurt congress can perhaps be best summed up by the contemporary relevance of the invitation.

Furniture for Neue Frankfurt by Ferdinand Kramer, as seen at Germany versus France. The Struggle over Style 1900-1930, Bröhan Museum Berlin


The Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne, ECAL, isn’t actually in Lausanne, but the community of Renens on the western edge of Lausanne.

Édith Piaf famously opined that, je ne regrette rien, but how many of this year ECAL graduates would be singing, je regrette Renens?

Or perhaps better put, how many of this year’s graduates would Renens regrette?

To gauge the mood, we anchored on the shores of Lac Léman to visit the 2017 ECAL Graduation Show………

Ecole Cantonale d'art de Lausanne ECAL


As regular readers will be well aware, here at smow blog HQ we’re very much of the opinion that fashion isn’t design. Never was. Never will be. Design, and without wanting to wade too deep into the definition quagmire, arose from applied craft/applied art, fashion is applied craft/applied art. And so while unquestionably a creative discipline, isn’t design. Neither is Graphic.

Design can however inspire and influence fashion, past decades recalling numerous occasions of fashion houses being motivated by designers’ works, a particularly apposite recent example being the news that Swiss fashion house Akris have based their Spring/Summer 2018 collection on the works of Alexander Girard, news which motivated us to retrieve a few classic items from the smow blog wardrobe……


Ukrainian designers haven’t featured often in these pages.

Arguably never.

And may never have, had it not been for the exhibition Transformation staged at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre during Paris Design Week 2017

The installation Pulse of Life by Nikolay Kabluka & decorKuznetsov, as seen at Transformation, Ukrainian Cultural Centre, Paris Design Week 2017


Aachen is famous for its Cathedral, its Rathaus, as a sedes regia, Royal seat, and coronation location of Germanic monarchs for 600 years, and its confectionery.

But for its design?

The network Designmetropole Aachen aim to change that, through both promoting the work of Aachen based designers in exhibitions and events, and also through being a network, a variagted structure in which local creatives support local creatives. Among Designmetropole Aachen’s current projects is as co-curators of the exhibition LuForm – The Design Department at the Ludwig Forum Aachen, an exhibition which has just received its fourth Update.

To find out more about LuForm, and creativity in and around Aachen, we met up with Designmetropole Aachen co-initiator Fabian Seibert.

Depressed Lamp by Patricia Yasmine Graf & Fabian Seibert (Photo Bartosz Plodovski © Sülzkotlett )


Just as the Eamsien adage proclaims that “the details are not the details; they make the product”, so too are a design school’s teaching staff not the teaching staff, they make the school.

Consequently, it follows that to better understand not only an individual institution, but also both the wider contemporary condition, and possible future directions, of design education, it is important to talk to, and understand, design school teaching staff; both those full-time Professors, and also those practising designers who have accepted the responsibility of instructing future generations.

Practising designers such as Patrick Frey, Assistant Professor at the Hochschule Hannover.

Patrick Frey. Designer and Assistant Professor, Hochschule Hannover


Whereas most design schools stage their annual exhibition at the end of the summer semester, there are exceptions, such as the Folkwang Universität der Künste, Essen, who present theirs just before the start of the winter semester.

And so nigh on three months after all others have ended.

Because, one wonders, they fear its brilliant glow would place all other schools in its shade, and they want to remain fair to their colleagues elsewhere? Because they have something to hide, and hope by waiting till October no one will visit?

Our #campustour may have long since been parked up for 2017, but keen to learn more we cranked it up and set course for Germany’s Ruhrgebiet…….

SANAA Building, Zeche Zollverein Essen, location for Finale 2017, Folkwang Universität der Künste Essen


“October is the month of painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight”

Before Henry David Thoreau’s twilight comes, our five painted leaves, flashing their rich glow round the world from Nürnberg, Lausanne, Hamburg, Eindhoven and Barcelona.

5 New Design Exhibitions for October 2017


With their 1997 exhibition The Work of Charles and Ray Eames the Vitra Design Museum staged one of the first major Charles and Ray Eames retrospectives

Twenty years later they return to two of the 20th century’s most important creatives with An Eames Celebration: less of Charles and Ray, and more of the diversity, depth and continuing relevance of their work.

Charles & Ray Eames. The Power of Design, Vitra Design Museum