Direktorenhaus Berlin: Summer Break VA / Neue Arbeiten

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 www.direktorenhaus.com

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