It’s not quite radio smow. Not yet. But we hope it is another way to enjoy, and understand, the smow blog…….

6 D 030 Z by Charles Ray Eames for Evans for Zenith Radio, as seen at Radio Days. Tube Radios, Design Classics, Internet Radio, the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne


The handicraft training in the Bauhaus workshops was not an end in itself, but an irreplaceable educational tool. The aim of this training was to create designers who, thanks to their precise knowledge of materials and processes, were able to influence the industrial production of our time.” Walter Gropius, 1955*

The tensions caused by the practical question of how this influence was to be expressed, and the parallels with the industrial production of our time, are explored in the exhibition Craft becomes Modern. The Bauhaus in the Making at Bauhaus Dessau.

Craft becomes Modern. The Bauhaus in the Making at Bauhaus Dessau


One of the genuine highlights for us at Milan Furniture Fair 2017 was without question the launch of USM Haller E – a new development by which electricity can be supplied to USM Haller units, electricity which can be used to power LED lighting or USB chargers housed unobtrusively in the structural tubes. “Unobtrusively” being the keyword as it means the functionality of the system is extended without altering, adjusting or otherwise impacting on the aesthetics of the system. A genuinely very exciting development and one which extends not just the functionality but also the value the system.

And which got us thinking…….

USM Haller E, as seen at Milan Furniture Fair 2017


Backrests appeared to be a major feature of those new products Konstantin Grcic presented at Milan Furniture Fair 2017. Or perhaps better put, from those new product we saw by Konstantin Grcic, we interpreted the backrest as being central components. But it wasn’t all about backrests, a few thoughts on new products for Magis, Plank, Flos and Mattiazzi.

Noctambule by Konstantin Grcic for Flos, as seen at Milan Furniture Fair 2017


Much as we moan, moan, and moan about Milan Furniture Fair, it is a rare opportunity to get a snapshot of where individual designers are currently at: differing products for differing manufacturers being displayed in relatively proximity allowing for a nice overview. A few considerations on the latest projects by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra, Magis, Flos and Mattiazzi.

Verticale by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Flos, as seen at Milan Furniture Fair 2017


In our post The Sedentary Workers: Orchestra Musicians we explored the unique world of orchestra musicians’ chairs. One of Europe’s largest, and most experienced, manufacturers of orchestra and musicians’ chairs is Esslingen based Wilde+Spieth. Who thus seemed an ideal address to learn more about the orchestra chair and the orchestra chair market…..

Musicians Chair by Wilde+Spieth, based on the SE 68 by Egon Eiermann


As older readers will be well aware, little gets us down quite like Milan Furniture Fair. Every year our only wish as we cross the Alps is that we will find something to make us thankful that we did. Milan Furniture Fair 2017 produced more such moments than the average year, which we suppose means we’ll be back next year!!

Our Milan Furniture Fair 2017 High Five!!


Although the evidence is not, yet, conclusive, recent years have seen an increasing confidence in the theory that sitting for too long can have a negative impact on health, and that all whose job involves prolonged sitting should regularly stand, move and generally change their body position.

But what about those workers who can’t? What about those workers whose job is defined by long periods of sitting?

Orchestra musicians at work. Seated. Specifically, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Riccardo Muti at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, January 2017 (Photo © Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Elbphilharmonie Hamburg)


While it’s hard to feel anything even vaguely resembling joy in a month which sees the UK start its senseless and cowardly, withdrawal from the European Union … life goes on!!

Our five top distractions for April 2017 features new design and architecture exhibitions in Berlin, New York, Paris, Dessau and Milan.


Thingness. Noun. [ˈthiŋ-nəs] The quality or state of objective existence or reality1

Thingness. Exhibition. [ˈthiŋ-nəs] A comprehensive Jasper Morrison retrospective currently on show at the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin.

Jasper Morrison. Thingness @ Bauhaus Archiv Berlin


It may lack the Unicorn Horn that graced so many Renaissance era Cabinets of Curiosities, but with The Room of Desires Keum Art Projects present a collection of objects with just as much beauty, mystery and grace as could be found in the Wunderkammer. And yet which are grounded much more in reality.

The Room of Desires @ Raumwerk Munich


The exhibition Divine Golden Ingenious. The Golden Ratio as a Theory of Everything? at the Museum for Communication Berlin featured two projects by Berlin based designer Mark Braun, projects which, largely, if not exclusively, owe their form to deliberations on and experimentation with the Fibonacci number. A state of affairs, we considered, makes Mark Braun an ideal person with whom to speak to about the role, attraction and relevance of the Fibonacci number and Golden Ratio in product design.

And so ahead of the exhibition’s opening at the Museum for Communication Frankfurt, we did just that…..

Les Trois by Mark Braun


The Bayerischer Staatspreis für Nachwuchsdesigner is one of the more interesting international design prizes. Not only because it is biennial and thus steadfastly refuses to play with the “every year new” ethos of the contemporary design industry, nor only because it is exclusively for young designers, but also because in addition to the “usual” categories it also recognises Design Research and Applied Crafts. And thus promotes a pleasingly healthy and positive understanding of the term “Design”

The winners of the 2016 Bayerischer Staatspreis were announced on Monday March 6th at an awards ceremony in Munich.

Merhaba by Susanne Honsa – Winner Applied Crafts, as seen at Bayerischer Staatspreis für Nachwuchsdesigner 2016 exhibition, Munich


For George Orwell nothing heralded spring quite like the re-appearance of toads, emerging from their subterranean hibernation and setting off, once again, on life’s great cycle.

Our toads are the flurry of new design and architecture exhibitions which open globally every March, as the international museum and gallery community awake from their winter slumber.

Our highlights for March 2017, featuring new exhibitions in Bielefeld, Helsinki, Weil am Rhein, Utrecht and Paris

5 New Design Exhibitions for March 2017


The German designer and silversmith Christian Dell is arguably best known for the numerous lighting designs he realised during the 1920s and 1930s.

Christian Dell was however also one of the pioneers of plastic design. If all too briefly.

Christian Dell (1893 - 1974)


Ambiente Frankfurt 2017 allowed an all to seldom reunião with Portuguese brand Vicara. And an occasion which served to remind us that we really should catch up with them more often…..

Vicara at Ambiente Frankfurt 2017


Amongst all the fake flavours at Ambiente Frankfurt 2017 the Umami of Japanese design studio Bouillon was a genuine delight.


“Have you ever met a robot?” asks the Vitra Design Museum.

The answer is yes.

The answers to the other 13 questions posed by the exhibition Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine are not necessarily so easily answered: but are important for defining our relationship with digital technology.

Vitra Design Museum presents Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine


Our picks from the new architecture and design exhibitions opening in February 2017, featuring showcases in Weil am Rhein, Falkenberg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Berlin and Groningen.

five new design exhibitions february 2017


As a fair IMM Cologne 2017 didn’t impress, but one or the other product did. Our IMM Cologne 2017 High Five!! And a few words of comfort from Epictetus.

IMM Cologne


The German architect and designer Ferdinand Kramer didn’t just translate the new principles of construction and design which arose in the inter-war years into his architecture, furniture and industrial designs, he was also a very eloquent writer on such matters, and thus helped, and continues to help, explain the motivations behind, and fascination with, functionalist ideals.

The Kramer Principle Design for Variable Use Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt am Main Chair B 403 Thonet


With the exhibition 5 Years kaschkasch Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider aka studio kaschkasch celebrate, well, five years of studio kaschkasch.

5 Years kaschkasch, Cologne


The 1973 film Ceremony by Italian architecture group Superstudio features individuals who inhabit the “Invisible House”, a house devoid of not only a physical structure but, we are told by the narrator, all forms of furniture.

The inhabitants of the invisible house are happy.

Despite this and their other regular very public pronunciations against architecture and design, from their earliest days Italian architecture group Superstudio also designed furniture and lighting: a selection of which can be enjoyed in the exhibition Superstudio Mobilia 1966-2016 at Ungers Archiv für Architekturwissenschaft, UAA, in Cologne.

Superstudio Mobilia 1966-2016 at Ungers Archiv für Architekturwissenschaft Cologne


Passagen Design Week Cologne 2017 is playing host to Naked Objects, the fifth edition of the exhibition series “Nieuwe German Gestaltung” – and an exhibition which as with the previous four is an unashamed celebration of the diversity and vitality of contemporary German product design.

Naked Objects: Nieuwe German Gestaltung #005 Cologne


With the exhibition 21 Common Things designer Thomas Schnur explores his personal relationship with everyday objects. And in doing so the concept of functionality.

Thomas Schnur - 21 Common Things