That unfamiliar bouquet in the air in Karlsruhe is the wind of change blowing through the Hochschule für Gestaltung: having guided, nurtured and, one assumes, wisely counselled, the design department since 1994 as Professor for Product Design Volker Albus is departing.
What that all means for the future is anyone’s guess, it’s very much a case of watch this space; for now all we could do is to what we do whenever a wind of change blows, and follow the Moskva down to Gorky Park and then on to the Hochschule für Gestaltung where the children of tomorrow were dreaming away at the 2018 Rundgang annual exhibition.
But would it be a glory night…….?
Inaugurated in 1992 in context of, and as a companion to, Karlsruhe’s Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie – Centre for Art and Media Technology – we discussed the history of the Hochschule für Gestaltung, HfG, Karlsruhe in our Rundgang durch die Lichthöfe 2016 post, and so dear reader we refer you there for more information
Presenting a mix of works realised in the various semester classes over the course of the year past, self-initiated projects and also Vordiplom, intermediate assessment, projects, the 2018 HfG Karlsruhe Rundgang was one of the more fulsome we can remember in recent years, and a quantity ably matched by the quality.
Among the results of semester projects such as Body Shape – Shape Sheets which took the human body as inspiration for objects which extend and support the same, or Bathware/Badgeschirr with its focus on bathroom accessories, one found that established HfG Karlsruhe favourite Logo! which, every year, asks students to create a marketing object for a company based on, and importantly, appropriate for/to that company’s logo; if, admittedly, this year we didn’t always understand the relevance/appropriateness of the objects presented, for example, a blood testing device for diabetics based on a Coke-Cola bottle? A Facebook crowbar? All most curious……
Elsewhere Repair? Create! challenged the students to use 3D printing technology to develop a new use for damaged household objects, to create a new object rather than repair an existing, and which produced a few delightful proposals including Flowers for Lunch by Luisa Hentsch which allows for the transformation of broken plates into a vase; the Cultural Studies project/installation Copy_Paste//Writing in the Age of Mass Text Production concerned itself with questions on how the technical conditions and social, cultural context in which texts are created influences both form and content of that text, and thereby also questioned creative freedoms in a digital future where individuals not only become increasingly less able, willing, to read a text longer than 300 words, but also do so on standardised electronic devices which suggest (carefully optomised) texts to them based on a (commercially motivated?) algorithm. And yes we are selfishly taking the opportunity presented to vent our frustrations; while, and keeping it all things mass production, with his Diploma project Fabian Schmid developed a production system for 3D printed ceramic objects thereby making a very nice sounding proposition viable.
Then there was MAGIS: Nomadic Cafe
Organised, as the title so subtly implies, in cooperation with Italian furniture manufacturer Magis, and under the guidance of Volker Albus and Stefen Leger, Nomadic Cafe set the brief, as the project description so delightfully phrases it, of “fundamentally rethinking the so-called “Café””; that the students took a very liberal interpretation of the brief goes without saying, as does the fact that the fact they did in no way detracted from the quality of the work realised. Arguably enhanced it.
Among a number of interesting proposals, Uncompleted Chair by Yifan Hu deliciously creates space for storing your hand luggage trolley within a cafe/lounge setting, a space which not only keeps it out the way, but also utilises the trolley handle as an armrest, if you will, to complete the chair; Lisa Ertel & Anne-Sophie Oberkrome developed with Neil the most sumptuous, and satisfyingly uncomplicated, moulded plywood chair, a work that tried to tell you it’s from the 1970s, but which all logic tells you can’t be; and Hauke Unterburg created with No Pain – No Gain a post-modern monster which takes the aesthetic sensibilities of a Hans J Wegner to the building site and dupes it into a suit of metal to realise a brute of an object which we tried really hard not to like. But ultimately did.
Moving away from chairs per se Johannes Bauer and Joshua Weber proposed with Lollipop a footrest-cum-charger which allows for a comfortable working position when not sat at a table, while with Tourist Sophia Stoewer, Hauke Unterburg & Mathias Lempart tackled the question of seating in waiting/public spaces and answered with a family of sculptural objects which allow for a wide range of modes of utilisation. Not entirely new as a principle, but one very pleasingly imagined and developed.
More loyal readers will remember one of our highlights of the 2017 HfG Rundgang being Bank der Tegernseer Gebräuche by Florian Knöbl, essentially a mass of wooden staves interwoven to form a bench. At Rundgang 2018 the Bank der Tegernseer Gebräuche was presented in context of MAGIS: Nomadic Cafe, albeit in an evolved and refined guise. Maintaining the same principle on which the original was based, specifically the inherent properties of wood and its rigidity when bent, Florian has tidied it up a little and added a metal frame; although it is barely that, the metal is barely there, and knows it. And is perfectly happy with the situation, a contentment which adds to the overall calm and grace of the object. An absolutely delightful piece of work particularly pleasing is how little Florian has created, essentially nothing, the material and raw statics do all the work. Which isn’t to say we’ve moved on from the 2017 Bank der Tegernseer Gebräuche. We’re still very much enjoying that and simply understand the two as cousins each with their own area of specialisation and preferred domain of use.
And at the risk of sounding like Florian Knöbl’s cousins ourselves, which we’re not, he was also co-responsible for one of our further highlights of the 2018 HfG Rundgang.
Given that Kantbank by HfG graduate Andreas Grindler is one of our reference projects, one of those projects we always return to when we begin to lose faith, there was a certain inevitability that we would become obsessed with Tripus by Florian Knöbl & Jannik Lang. And so came it. Our obsession however isn’t directly associated to the constitutional 4 x 4s, but rather with the complexity hidden by their brutality.
An ostensibly obvious table/desk Tripus offers a myriad of different methods of interaction and communication which make it much more an pro-active tool than a passive accessory; and achieves that without doing anything, without even being capable of doing anything, but rather alone through its honesty, integrity and logic. It’s almost a metaphor. And one that we’d argue Florian & Jannik should make available as Open Source project so that all can savour in it, play with it. A truly monumental piece of work Tripus is pleasingly reserved, is unmistakably there, but also isn’t. Only is when you need it to be. In October we’re off once again to the Orgatec office furniture trade fair in Cologne, we’ll be surprised if we discover more than three new projects there which appeal to us more than Tripus.
Full details on the Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe can be found at www.hfg-karlsruhe.de