5 New Design Exhibitions for March 2017

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

“Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr Jr. und Philip Johnson. Bauhaus-Pioniere in Amerika” at the Kunsthalle, Bielefeld, Germany

As we’ve oft noted, Bauhaus can partly thank its mythical status to the way it was received in America, and for all the manner in which the leading Bauhaus protagonist were championed by the contemporary American architecture and design community.

Two leading roles in the story were played by Alfred H. Barr, founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, New York and the architect, and first director of the MoMA Architecture Department, Philip Johnson: not only through the various design and architecture exhibitions they organised in the 1930s, and in which Bauhaus and its protagonists were given a prominent place, but also for their roles in helping the migrant Bauhäusler establish themselves in America.

Organised and curated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Partners in Design promises to explore Barr and Johnson’s contribution to the establishing of Bauhaus/Modernism in America through an exploration of their both professional and personal support for the movement and also their private interest in modernism/functionalism as represented by impressions of their own homes, and features in addition to Bauhäusler, works by American designers such as Allan Adler, Charles & Ray Eames or Eva Zeisel which the curators argue can be seen as arising from the Bauhaus ideals as promoted by Barr and Johnson.

Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr Jr. und Philip Johnson. Bauhaus-Pioniere in Amerika opens at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Artur-Ladebeck-Strasse 5, 33602 Bielefeld on Saturday March 25th and runs until Sunday July 23rd.

Philip Johnson and Alfred Barr, Lake Maggiore, Switzerland, April 1933. (Photo © The Museum of Modern Art)

Alfred H. Barr (l) and Philip Johnson (r) , Lake Maggiore, Switzerland, April 1933. (Photo © The Museum of Modern Art)

“Modern Life!” at Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland

2017 sees Finland celebrate the centenary of its independence, and as befits such an occasion a year long programme of events is being staged dedicated to all things Finnish. One of the central events in terms of Finnish creativity is the exhibition Modern Life! Organised by Helsinki Art Museum in collaboration with the Alvar Aalto Museum, the Finnish Museum of Photography, the Design Museum and the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Modern Life! promises to present not only a comprehensive overview of modernism in Finland, but for all explain how modernism helped the fledgling nation establish a sense of national identity. And vice versa how ideas of “Finnishness” influenced the art, architecture and design of the period, in both Finland and further afield. In addition the exhibition promises to be a simple celebration of Finnish talents such as Alvar Aalto, Viljo Revell, Kaj Franck, Tapio Wirkkala or Eliel Saarinen.

Modern Life! opens at Helsinki Art Museum, Eteläinen Rautatiekatu 8, 00100 Helsinki on Friday March 3rd and runs until Sunday July 30th

Paimio Chair by Alvar Aalto for Artek

Paimio Chair by Alvar Aalto for Artek. Finest Finnish Modernism.

“Monobloc – A Chair for the World” at the Vitra Design Museum Schaudepot, Weil am Rhein, Germany

In 1972 the French plastic goods manufacturer Stamp released the Fauteuil 300 plastic armchair by Henry Massonnet. A moulded plastic chair which over forty years later is universally known as the Monobloc. And which is universal. Ubiquitous. If not omnipresent. Although not necessarily always in the form of the Fauteuil 300, the intervening decades having seen numerous other manufacturers produce their versions of Massonnet’s original. Yet all are inescapably Monoblocs. With the exhibition Monobloc – A Chair for the World the Vitra Design Museum aim to not only explore the contemporary relevance and status of the Monobloc, but also to explain its development in context of the evolution of furniture design and furniture manufacturing. And arguably thereby demonstrating that the Monobloc, might just, deserve it ubiquity.

Monobloc – A Chair for the World opens at the Vitra Design Museum Schaudepot, Vitra Campus, Charles-Eames-Strasse 2, 79576 Weil am Rhein on Friday March 17th and runs until Sunday June 18th

Monobloc - A Chair for the World, Vitra Design Museum Schaudepot (Photo Christoph Sagel, courtesy Vitra Design Museum)

Monobloc – A Chair for the World, Vitra Design Museum Schaudepot (Photo Christoph Sagel, courtesy Vitra Design Museum)

“Rietveld’s Masterpiece; Long live De Stijl!” at the Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Holland

In October 1917 the first edition of the magazine De Stijl was published, thus formally announcing the arrival of the eponymous Dutch avant-garde art movement. In 1918 Gerrit T. Rietveld joined De Stijl and in 1924 translated the ideals of De Stijl into architecture with the so-called Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht. By way of marking De Stijl’s centenary Utrecht’s Centraal Museum is presenting an exhibition which uses Rietveld as a conduit towards creating a new interpretation of one of De Stijl’s central architectural works. Promising a comprehensive overview of Rietveld’s life, work and motivations, as expressed through both Rietveld’s works as well as those of his contemporaries such as Theo van Doesburg, Bart van der Leck and Willem van Leusden, Rietveld’s Masterpiece “concludes” with an evolving art installation in which the Dutch artist David Bade will transform visitors responses to the question “What is your labour of love?” into a new, alternative, Rietveld Schröder House.

Rietveld’s Masterpiece; Long live De Stijl! opens at the Centraal Museum, Agnietenstraat 1, Utrecht on Saturday March 4th and runs until Sunday June 11th

The Rietveld Schröder House (Photo & © CMU/Ernst Moritz/Pictoright)

The Rietveld Schröder House (Photo & © CMU/Ernst Moritz/Pictoright)

“Imprimer le monde” at Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

Slowly but surely 3D printing is moving from the Kingdom of the Nerd to the real world. And before too long promises to become an inescapable component of daily life. It’s not there yet. But it’s coming. With their exhibition Imprimer le monde the Centre Pompidou in Paris aim to explore the influence of 3D printing technology across the worlds of art, design and architecture, and by extrapolation how the technology is changing both creative processes and also perceptions of objects, space and materials: and that not only through changes in production processes but also through the new typologies allowed by the new technology. Featuring contributions from 30 young creatives, such including Joris Laarman, Fabio Gramazio & Matthias Kohler, Achim Menges and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Imprimer le monde promises to provide a nice introduction to and overview of the current thinking around 3D printing technology and thus help us all visualise what is possible, where it could take us and what that could mean………

Imprimer le monde opens at the Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris on Wednesday March 15th and runs until Monday June 19th

Dutch Design Week 2014 Dirk Vander Kooij Chubby Chair

The 3D printed Chubby Chair by Dirk Vander Kooij, here as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014