5 New Design Exhibitions for March 2015

March is a month for caution.

Yes, the sun shines.

Yes, the days are getting longer

Yes, one can smell spring in the air.

But March has a temper. Meteorologically March is fickle with a hang to petulance and so it takes bravery and fortitude to expose oneself to March’s harsh, unforgiving vagaries.

Snowdrops risk it. And often regret it.

The following five museums have also taken that risk…. and we feel should be rewarded and applauded for their bravery.

“Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design” at the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany

When Vitra Design Museum Chief Curator Mateo Kries held his keynote speech at the Designtage Brandenburg 2013 Design Conference he made a few references to contemporary art and design in Africa. We thought nothing about it at the time, other than it occasionally seemed that the digital infrastructure in Africa was better than that to be found in rural Brandenburg. Now we understand why he was so well informed on all things African. For their major 2015 summer exhibition the Vitra Design Museum will present an exploration of the current state of African creativity. Featuring examples of contemporary art, fashion, graphics, architecture and design, Making Africa promises to explain how a new generation of young creatives are using the freedom and power offered by digital technology to accompany, encourage and drive change in 21st century Africa.

Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design opens at the Vitra Design Museum, Charles-Eames-Str. 2, 79576 Weil am Rhein on Saturday March 14th and runs until Sunday September 13th

Making Africa A Continent of Contemporary Design Vitra Design Museum

Vigilism, Idumota Market, Lagos 2081A.D. from the Our Africa 2081A.D. series, illustration for the I kiré Jones Heritage Menswear Collection, 2013 (Photo © Courtesy Olalekan (vigilism.com) and Walé Oyéjidé (ikirejones.com))

“Do It Yourself Design” at the Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich, Switzerland

What used to be a negation, a refusal to help, has become a battle cry. Do it yourself!

Be it as a reaction to the pressures of contemporary consumer culture, a longing for more sustainability or through a sense of empowerment generated by modern digital technology, Do It Yourself is increasingly infiltrating and dominating ever more cultural and creative sectors. Including design. Do it yourself and design are of course not new bedfellows, the (hi)story of design is littered with DIY projects, the current movement however not only has its roots in thoroughly modern conditions which are worthy of closer analysis, but also has more potential to produce lasting change than its predecessors. Divided into four sections focussing on “What is do it yourself?” , “Design for do it yourself” , “Consumer & Prosumer” and “Sustainability” Do It Yourself Design will seek to both explore the background to the current movement and also investigate how the Do it yourself ethos is influencing design and what that could mean for the future of design, the design profession and the design industry.

Created in collaboration with the MAK Wien Do It Yourself Design? is a reworked and refocussed version of the 2013 MAK Wien exhibition Nomadic Furniture 3.0. New Liberated Living?

Do It Yourself Design opens at the Museum für Gestaltung – Schaudepot, Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 96, CH-8005 Zürich on Friday March 20th and runs until Sunday May 31st

Do It Yourself Design" at the Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich

Do It Yourself Design at the Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich (Image © ZHdK)

“IN-Possible by Alessi” at the Design Museum Holon, Israel

As we’ve often noted in these pages, the development of a design project is often more interesting than the resultant product. And the development of a design project that doesn’t end in a resultant product is even more interesting. Why didn’t it work? Who stopped the project? How far advanced was it? Did it later evolve into something else? As part of an exhibition series to mark the museum’s fifth anniversary the Design Museum Holon will present a series of 50 projects by designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Philippe Starck, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and Patricia Urquiola which were planned for Alessi, but  which never reached completion. As a sponsored, cooperation exhibition curated by the Alessi Museum, we aren’t expecting it to be particularly extensive in scope, and would imagine it will also be somewhat corporate heavy; however, if it is honest about why the projects were stopped and who made the decisions then it could provide some very interesting insights into both the product design process and product design industry. And we really hope it does.

IN-Possible by Alessi opens at the Design Museum Holon, Pinhas Eilon St. 8 Holon on Wednesday March 25th and runs until Saturday June 6th

"Cyclepedia, Iconic Bicycle Design" at Design Museum Holon, Israel

Design Museum Holon, Israel

“Fast Fashion. Die Schattenseiten der Mode” at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Germany

At the risk of repeating ourselves, and of getting involved in ever more arguments, fashion isn’t design. It’s styling. And styling isn’t design. That said, fashion is very closely related to product design in that the creations need to be produced. And just as the conditions under which many consumer products are produced are anything but fair and sustainable so to does the reality of clothing manufacturing often contrast heavily with the carefully managed and controlled PR glamour of the finished garments. Everybody knows that, but a majority of consumers actively chose to ignore the reality so as not to spoil the enjoyment of their new clothes. Exploring themes such as, for example, fashion & victims, poverty & affluence, new fibre technologies or garments & chemicals Fast Fashion at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg aims to cast a light into these dark corners. Hopefully a light ever bit as bright as those which illuminate the catwalks of Paris, New York, London, Milan, et al. In addition to looking at the current situation Fast Fashion also promises to look at alternative models and possible new modi operandi for the fashion industry.

Fast Fashion. Die Schattenseiten der Mode opens at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Steintorplatz 20099 Hamburg on Friday March 20th and runs until Sunday September 20th

Fast Fashion. Die Schattenseiten der Mode at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Women cut up jumpers, jackets and coats using traditional vegetable cutters (Photo © Tim Mitchell, 2005)

“Vienna. The Pearl of the Reich. Planning for Hitler” at the Architekturzentrum Wien, Austria

That Adolf Hitler planned to transform Berlin into Welthauptstadt Germania and emphasise the power, authority and supremacy of his Nazi horde through monumental architecture and urban planning is well known and well researched. That Hitler also had big plans for Vienna is less well known. And much less well researched. Until now. Presenting previously unseen plans, documents and photographs largely garnered from the Klaus Steiner archives which passed into the Architektuerzentrum Wien’s possession in 2011, “Vienna. The Pearl of the Reich. Planning for Hitler” promises to explain and explore Hitler’s plans for Groß-Wien as the second city of the Third Reich, as the leading cultural centre of the Reich, a sort of cultural conduit if you will between east and west, but also as the administrative gateway to the regions of southern Europe. In addition to looking at Hitler’s plans for Vienna, the exhibition also aims to provide new perspectives and impressions on the role of architecture and urban planning in Nazi philosophy and propaganda as well as asking why the Nazi years have until now been generally omitted from discussions on Vienna’s architectural history and heritage.

Vienna. The Pearl of the Reich. Planning for Hitler opens at Architekturzentrum Wien, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna on Thursday Mach 19th and runs until Monday August 18th

Vienna The Pearl of the Reich. Planning for Hitler at the Architekturzentrum Wien

Building model of the redesign of Vienna with the Gauforum and the “Baldur von Schirach” Island, 1941(Photo  © Architekturzentrum Wien, Sammlung)

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