5 New Design Exhibitions for May 2014

Mayday! Mayday!

Don’t panic. It’s just a public holiday. You’ll survive. Barbecue something……

And afterwards, when everyone else is back at work and things have calmed down a little, why not enjoy one or more of the following design and architecture exhibitions opening around Europe this coming May.

“Fritz Haller. Architekt und Forscher” at the S AM Schweizerisches Architekturmuseum, Basel, Switzerland

Everyone knows Fritz Haller. He designed one of the few truly iconic and genuinely modular storage and shelving systems of the post war age.

Fritz Haller was however principally an architect. And understood himself as such: albeit more a theoretical architect than a practising, building, architect. A situation which means a lot of his work isn’t that accessible. Or indeed visible. And that by extension Fritz Haller himself remains a relative anonymous character.

In our 2012 interview with Georg Vrachliotis he mused on this anonymity, concluding “Fritz Haller never understood the architect as an author, was never interested in ideas of  “author architecture”. Fritz Haller developed systems and not buildings and so ultimately Fritz Haller himself was anonymous, the antithesis of the modern star architect. Through his work Fritz Haller evaporated as architect and only the structure remained.”  As co-curator of Fritz Haller. Architekt und Forscher Georg Vrachliotis now has an excellent opportunity to allow Fritz Haller himself to be given a little more prominence.

Covering Haller’s canon from the late 1940s until the late 1990s “Fritz Haller. Architekt und Forscher” promises to explore all facets of his career – including his nine years at Konrad Wachsmann’s “Institute for Building Research” at the University of Southern California, his numerous public buildings in his native Switzerland, his MINI, MIDI and MAXI modular building system and of course the USM Haller furniture system that evolved therefrom – and so help produce probably a more complete and accessible image of the man than has ever been publicly presented.

Fritz Haller. Architekt und Forscher opens at the S AM Schweizerisches Architekturmuseum, Steinenberg 7, 4051 Basel on Friday May 16th and runs until Sunday August 24th

fritz haller usm münsingen

The USM building in Münsingen, Switzerland by Fritz Haller (Photo courtesy of USM U. Schärer Söhne AG)

“Unsichtbare Dinge. Typisch chinesisch. Typisch deutsch.” at the Museum für Völkerkunde, Hamburg, Germany

Sadly we’ve still not seen the exhibition “Rolf Sachs – typisch deutsch?” at the Cologne Museum für Angewandte Kunst. Had we, we could now cleverly link it to the Droog Lab project “The New Original” and onto Hans J. Wegner‘s fascination with an old Chinese chair to introduce the exhibition, “Unsichtbare Dinge. Typisch chinesisch. Typisch deutsch.” – Invisible Things. Typical German. Typical Chinese – at the Museum für Völkerkunde in Hamburg. Presenting objects classed as either typically German or typically Chinese the exhibition aims to allow an exploration of the one culture by “reflecting” it in the culture of the other. Or put another way, when as a German, or indeed European, you understand what makes something “typically Chinese” you view juxtapositioned objects that are classed “typically German” in a new light. And so, hopefully/potentially, can better interpret what is “typically German”.

With such exhibitions there is always the risk that it is nothing more than a collection of unconnected, incoherent, objects that collectively don’t demonstrate very much. They can however also be wonderfully illustrative. And isn’t half the fun of visiting exhibitions, the uncertainty if you’ll enjoy it or not?

Unsichtbare Dinge. Typisch chinesisch. Typisch deutsch opens at the Museum für Völkerkunde, Rothenbaumchaussee 64 20148 Hamburg on Sunday May 18th and runs until Sunday November 23rd

Unsichtbare Dinge Typisch chinesisch Typisch deutsch at the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg Germany erledigt

The efficiency of the bureaucrat. Typically German? (Photo: Oliver Schuh, courtesy of Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg)

“Grey Matter Helsinki” at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, Finland

In the past couple of months we’ve had numerous opportunities to expound on our distaste for the majority of contemporary architecture photography. And so we are particularly joyed to see that the Aalto University and the Museum of Finnish Architecture presenting further examples of possible alternatives to the current predictable perspectives. In the course of the joint project “Grey Matter Helsinki” architecture and photography students from the Aalto University photographed buildings in Helsinki’s downtown Töölö Bay district. Each location was photographed twice: once as a “standard” architecture photograph, and a second, more creative shot. In the exhibition the two photos will be juxtapositioned with one another.
We’ve not seen any of the works, and sadly the museum’s press department didn’t see fit to answer our email, and so we have absolutely no idea how good or bad the exhibition might be. But it does all sound highly entertaining.

As far as we can tell it is a fairly small exhibition, and it only runs for a couple of weeks; but if you happen to be in Helsinki…..

Grey Matter Helsinki opens at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Kasarmikatu 24, 00130 Helsinki, Finland on Thursday May 15th and runs until Sunday June 1st

Haus am Waldsee Berlin Ola Kolehmainen Geometric Light Konstruktivizm Infantil

As we sadly have no images of or from Grey Matter Helsinki - 2 photos by Finnish architecture photographer Ola Kolehmainen....

“WerkStadt Vienna – Design Engaging the City” at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Dresden, Germany

It is very rare that the context of an exhibition excites us more than the promise of the exhibition itself, but with WerkStadt Vienna – Design Engaging the City at the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Dresden that is very much the case. When Tulga Beyerle was appointed Director of the Kunstgewerbemuseum we wrote “… until now the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden has never struck us an institution with any ambitions above securing its own existence. For example, we can’t remember any special exhibitions being organised there….

Does the decision to present WerkStadt Vienna mark a change in approach by the Kunstgewerbemuseum? Is Tulga Beyerle a new broom that will bring sweeping changes to the dusty world of Dresden’s museums? Or is the exhibition just a “Welcome gift” from Tulga Beyerle to her new employers, the new director presenting her credentials, a sort of museal Letters of Introduction, as it were? Time will tell.

And even ignoring the context “WerkStadt Vienna – Design Engaging the City” is a delightful exhibition, presenting as it does highlights from the Passionswege programme, one of the genuine highlights of Vienna Design Week and indeed one of the most interesting design programmes around. Among the projects to be displayed in Dresden are Matylda Krzykowski @ Norbert Meier Brushmaker and Petz Horn Manufacturer, Tomas Kral @ Mühlbauer Hutmanufaktur, Mark Braun @ J & L Lobmeyr and the ever delightful Julia Landsiedl @ Erwin Perzys Original Wiener Schneekugeln.

WerkStadt Vienna – Design Engaging the City opens at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Schloss Pillnitz, Bergpalais, August-Böckstiegel-Straße 2, 01326 Dresden on Thursday May 1st and runs until Wednesday August 27th

Milan Design Week 2013 Werkstadt Vienna

WerkStadt Vienna – Design Engaging the City, as seen during Milan Design Week 2013

D’DAYS. Festival de design. Paris. Pantin.

The end of May sees the D’DAYS design festival in Paris and neighbouring Pantin. Whereas for anyone with a reasonable grasp of World War II history “D-Day” is and was about the beginning of the end of Nazi terror on French soil, for the Parisians “D’DAYS” is an informal design week featuring a healthy mix of in-store showcases and gallery exhibitions.

Although many of the in-store shows will invariably be nothing more than an extension of the stores normal presentations, OP! by and featuring Patrick Norguet at Cassina and Vincent Tordjman’s installation “The Mechanics of Creation” at the B&B Italia flagship, certainly look worth checking out. Much more interesting however promises to be the gallery exhibitions, in particular, Eppur si muove by Hilda Hellström at Gallery S. Bensimon, Hand in Hand at the Bastille Design Center and Noortje de Keijzer & Dirk Vander Kooij at the Dutch Design pOps up exhibition in the Institut Néerlandais sound very promising.

In addition on Thursday May 22nd and Friday May 23rd half-a-dozen Parisian design studios are opening their doors to the public to offer a glimpse behind the velvet curtain that is the product design process.

D’DAYS. Festival de design. Paris. Pantin. 2014 runs from Monday May 19th until Sunday May 25th at various locations throughout Paris and Pantin.

d days paris pantin

D'DAYS. Festival de design. Paris. Pantin.


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