5 New Design Exhibitions for October 2014

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” exclaims Anne Shirley in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, “it would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”

Yes Anne, it would.

Yet while Ms Shirley turned her youthful attention to decorating her bedroom with the brightly coloured maple branches so prevalent on Prince Edward Island at this time of year, our joy is found in the new architecture and design exhibitions opening in the coming weeks.

In no particular order, and as Anne would no doubt phrase it, our top five thrills for October 2014……

“Studio Wieki Somers – Out of the Ordinary” at Museum Boijmans, Rotterdam, Holland

We first came across the work of Rotterdam based Studio Wieki Somers a.k.a. Dylan van den Berg and Wieki Somers through their contribution to the 2012 exhibition “Contemporary Dutch Design Live” at the Vitra Design Museum. Yes the fact that they were presenting a 100 kilo chocolate praline helped attract our attention, but much more impressive was the way Studio Wieki Somers employed a relatively brutal and direct process to elicit a delicate, almost unseen transformation in the pattern of the praline. And this attention to the finer details of aesthetic and construction, an ability to bring the inner beauty of an object to the surface without comprising the functionality, underscores much of the Studio Wieki Somers’ canon. In addition to having their work produced by manufacturers as varied as Kahla Porcelain, Tectona or Droog, Studio Wieki Somers have also cooperated with the likes of Galerie Kreo Paris, the Textile Museum in Tilburg and Galerie Vivid Rotterdam. To celebrate the studio’s tenth anniversary the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam are presenting an exhibition of the studios output. Featuring projects such as their 2004 Trophies drinking glasses, the 2005 Bathboat or their 2010 Frozen in Time collection, Out of the Ordinary promises to provide a succinct overview of a very interesting design studio. A particularly nice touch is that with the exhibition running over winter visitors will be able to make use of the Merry-Go-Round Coat Rack Studio Wieki Somers created in 2009 for the entrance of the Museum Boijmans.

Studio Wieki Somers – Out of the Ordinary opens at Museum Boijmans, Museumpark 18, 3015 CX Rotterdam on Saturday October 11th and runs until Sunday January 11th.

 “Chocolate Mill” by Studio Wieki Somers created in context of the exhibition “Contemporary Dutch Design Live” at the Vitra Design Museum, 2012

“Skud på Stammen 2014” at Trapholt – Museum of Modern Art, Applied Art, Design and Architecture, Kolding, Denmark

Since 2007 the programme Skud på Stammen – roughly “Chip of the old block” or “New branches ” – has paired carpentry students from Copenhagen Technical College with experienced designers to work on a collaborative project. And since 2007 the results of these co-operations have been presented in an exhibition at the Trapholt art and design museum in Kolding. Following on from the themes “From seed to…” in 2011, “Recession” in 2012 and “Globalisation” in 2013, Skud på Stammen 2014 asked participants to work on the theme “Over the line”: a theme which takes 2014 and Hans J Wegner and Børge Mogensen 100th birthdays as a starting point to challenge popular conceptions of “Danish Design” as represented by the works of the two centenarians. A not altogether unfitting theme as it was co-operations between designers/architects such as Mogensen or Wegner and carpenters which laid the foundations for the works that today form the popular understanding of the much hyped “Danish Design”. An understanding we know many younger Danish designers have real problems with; yet from which carpenters and cabinet makers still benefit. Thus it should be interesting to see how the invited contemporary designers, including, Kasper Salto, Sigurd Larsen and Jonas Pedersen, and the students cooperate. And who has the greater say in the finished works.

Skud på Stammen 2014 opens at Trapholt – Museum of Modern Art, Applied Art, Design and Architecture, Æblehaven 23, DK-6000 Kolding on Tuesday October 28th and runs until Sunday February 1st

Børge Mogensen FDB Chair Danish Museum of Art and Design Copenhagen

A Børge Mogensen FDB Chair and an 18th/19th century English chair, as seen at Danish Museum of Art and Design in Copenhagen. A perfect demonstration of the origins of "Danish Design" in traditional carpentry.

“Frank Gehry” at Le Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

We’re not going to claim to be the biggest fans of Canadian architect Frank O Gehry’s buildings. Or perhaps better put we’re not going to claim to be the biggest fans of Gehry Partners’ formulaic repetition in their constructions, something we most recently noted in our post on Gehry Partners’ planned tower block for Alexanderplatz in Berlin. In that post we also argued that the “blame” doesn’t lie with Gehry alone, but that the largest part must be accepted by those who commission Gehry with the tacit expectation of a building that looks like something he previously built. Frank Gehry should obviously say no to such commissions. But one can’t really blame him for accepting them. Yet while we find the debates surrounding Gehry Partners’ projects important they do however distract somewhat from the undeniable contribution Frank Gehry has made to contemporary architecture, including his early experimentation with deconstructivist forms, his reconfiguration of modernist standards, his considerations on perception of space or his role in developing the use of 3D computer based planning in architecture, innovations which underscore the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury’s 1989 Citation that “Gehry’s work is a highly refined, sophisticated and adventurous aesthetic that emphasizes the art of architecture.”1 The Centre Pompidou’s forthcoming exhibition would seem to offer an excellent chance to weigh up such positions. Curated by Frédéric Migayrou and Aurélien Lemonier from the Musée National d’art Moderne the exhibition is, according to the organisers, the first major Frank Gehry retrospective in Europe and will feature some 225 drawings and 67 models through which 60 Gehry projects are investigated, including the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and, naturally, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. And by lucky coincidence October also sees the opening of Frank Gehry’s latest “signature” work: The Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Gehry-sur-Seine, as it were.

Frank Gehry opens at Le Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75191 Paris on Wednesday October 8th and runs until Monday January 26th

1. http://www.pritzkerprize.com/1989/jury Accessed 29.09.2014

vitra design museum frank gehry

The Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. Frank Gehry's first building in Europe.

“Gaudí. Eine zukunftsweisende Architektur” at the Architekturzentrum Wien, Vienna, Austria

Those wanting a more complete impression and/or deeper understanding of d’oeuvre Frank O Gehry are probably best advised to travel from Paris to Vienna for an exhibition devoted to another great exponent of signature architecture: Antoni Gaudí. As indeed are all who want to understand more about the man and architect behind the Parc Güell and La Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Organised by the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, “Gaudí. Architecture Ahead of its Time” promises to explore not only Gaudí’s most famous creations but also his lesser known early works, his design work, including furniture, in addition to explaining how he approached his projects and his empirical, model based, methods for calculating the statics and load bearing capacity of his constructions, and thus aims to provide an image of the man that goes beyond mosaic covered lizards and unfinished churches.

Gaudí. Eine zukunftsweisende Architektur opens at the Architekturzentrum Wien – Alte Halle, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna on Thursday October 2nd and runs until Sunday November 2nd

Antoni Gaudí. Krypta der Kirche der Colònia Güell. Innenansicht (1898-1917)

Antoni Gaudí. Crypt of the church in the Colònia Güell. Interior. (Photo © Ricard Pla i Pere Vivas. Triangle Postals. Courtesy of Architekturzentrum Wien)

“Villa Tugendhat” at Weissenhofwerkstatt im Haus Mies van der Rohe, Stuttgart, Germany

Just as universally identifiable with Barcelona as Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família is without question Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Pavilion for the German trade mission to the 1929 International Exposition. Parallel to developing the Barcelona Pavilion Mies van der Rohe was also working on a further project that would confirm his position as one of the most important architects of his generation, the so-called Villa Tugendhat in Brno. As with his Barcelona Pavilion Mies van der Rohe ignored “traditional” construction principles for Villa Tugendhat preferring instead an iron reinforced concrete frame, a decision which negated the need for internal supporting walls, thus allowing for a more individual, and for all more open, room plan. A construction principle which was truly revolutionary in its day. The majority of the rear wall meanwhile is given over to floor-to-ceiling windows, thus not only allowing for an increased feel of lightness and openness but also offering spectacular views over Brno. In addition to revolutionary construction principles the Villa Tugendhat is also remarkable for the advanced technology employed, including an electronic window opening system and an integrated heating/cooling system. Besides the building Mies van der Rohe was also responsible for the fixtures and fittings, largely relying on his own furniture including the Barcelona Chair and MR 20 cantilever chair in addition to two chairs developed specially for the project, the “Tugendhat Chair” and “Brno Chair. The one major exception to the self-created interior was the decision to use Poul Henningsen’s new PH Lamps. Curated by the Villa Tugendhat Study and Documentation Centre the exhibition in Stuttgart aims not only to explain and explore the construction itself but also the recently completed renovations and thus promises to provide a delightful and accessible introduction to a most fascinating construction.

Villa Tugendhat opens at the Weissenhofwerkstatt im Haus Mies van der Rohe, Am Weissenhof 20, 70191 Stuttgart on Saturday October 11th and runs until Sunday November 30th.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Villa Tugendhat Brno

Villa Tugendhat Brno by Ludwig Mies van der Roh, rear view (Photo © David Židlický, Courtesy of Villa Tugendhat Study and Documentation Centre)



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