Category: Architecture


Curated by Carwan Gallery Beirut co-founder Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, Unsighted presents projects by eight international designers; the title making reference to the fact that the designers weren’t told for what they were being commissioned, had no external context; were working, as it were, Unsighted.

During Milan Design Week 2018 all became clearer…

Unsighted, Milan Design Week 2018

“Shake of all the props – the props tradition and authority offer you – and go alone – crawl – stumble – stagger – but go alone”, encouraged the Scottish architect, designer and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh his audience during his 1902 lecture Seemliness.1

How Charles Rennie Mackintosh himself attempted to do just that can be explored in the exhibition Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Making the Glasgow Style.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Making the Glasgow Style @ Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

According to the German philologist, mythologist, folklorist and definer of the Germanic Umlaut, Jacob Grimm, an old belief states that the Cuckoo never sings before the 3rd of April; and, “should you have money in your pouch when you hear him sing the first time, you will be well off all that year, if not, you will be short the whole year” 1

Much like the cuckoo, our five new architecture & design exhibitions recommendations for April 2018 begin with their songs after April 3rd; and should you have money in your pouch when in their vicinity, and use it to visit one, we can’t guarantee a year of financial wealth, but they all sound like providing not only a couple of hours entertainment, but a lifetime of joy through helping you develop your understanding of architecture and design, and thereby the world that surrounds you….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for April 2018

Following on from the Collective in 2015, Movement in 2016 and Substance in 2017, the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau’s annual theme for 2018 is the Standard; a central component of the teaching at Bauhaus Dessau yet one which is and was freely open to artistic, technological and functional interpretation.

And one the Bauhäusler freely interpreted artistically, technologically and functionally

The first exhibition in context of the annual theme explores the work of the German architect Carl Fieger, how he applied his understanding and interpretations of standardisation of architecture and design from his days at Bauhaus in the 1920s to his time at the East German Bauakademie in the 1950s, how he evolved and developed as an architect in that period and his contemporary relevance.

Carl Fieger. From Bauhaus to Bauakademie at Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau

1918 was a bad year for the Wiener Moderne, losing as it did with the deaths of Koloman Moser, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Otto Wagner four of its leading protagonists.

To mark the centenary, and help underscore the important role Vienna played at the turn of the 19th/20th century in the development of art, architecture, music and literature, museums across Vienna are staging a wide range of specially themed exhibitions throughout 2018; the Hofmobiliendepot – Imperial Furniture Museum – taking the opportunity to celebrate not only Otto Wagner, but his younger contemporaries Josef Hoffmann and Adolf Loos.

Wagner, Hoffmann, Loos and Viennese Modernist Furniture Design. Artists, Patrons, Producers

While it is generally the case that the development, evolution, of product design is dependent on the development, evolution, of technology, such is particularly the case in context of lighting design: ever since a burning stick was first employed to create a relaxing evening atmosphere in a neolithic cave, technological developments have been the driving force behind the development of lighting design, be that formally, functionally or technically.

The nature of Light + Building Frankfurt, the fact that it is much more of case of “Light in and around Buildings”, means that the majority of the projects presented are about technical lighting in architectural contexts, and in terms of technical evolution most manufacturers are atop of the game: demonstrating technical competence being a key element in any lighting manufacturers’ self-image. Does however by necessity mean that often the required functionality is largely pre-defined by the very specific nature of the usage, while the form is in many cases irrelevant.

A small section of Light + Building does however present objects of more freer nature, and there one does/could find a few design led projects which in addition to adopting technological innovation approach new formal and functional solutions and thus new understandings of what lighting can/should be. As ever we’ve not seen everything, have invariably missed one or the other gem, apologies all-round, but with that in mind, and in no particular order, our Light + Building Frankfurt 2018 High Five!!

Light + Building Frankfurt 2018: High Five!!

Nightclubs and discos are not only about entertainment and sensory overload, but also provide a society with means of expression and reflection.

With the exhibition Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein explore five decades of club culture.

Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 - Today, Vitra Design Museum

In front of the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich stands a Futuro House by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, a work realised in 1968 as his response to considerations on questions concerning our future society.

And an object which resembles a flying saucer. And arguably does so more now than it did then. Then it was a bright new future enabled by contemporary technology: now it is a piece of late 1960s science fiction.

Inspired by the Futuro House 28 students from the Industrial Design and Architecture Master’s degree programs at the Technische Universität München undertook their own considerations on questions concerning our future society.

The results of their deliberations are presented in the exhibition 50|50. Die Welt 2068.

Futuro House by Matti Suuronen @ the Pinakothek der Moderne Munich

Following three years of renovations and redesign the principle house of the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich is once again open for visitors.

Three years which have not only seen the physical structure renovated and redesigned, but also the presentation concept and foci.

Museum für Gestaltung Zürich

Arguably because Passover/Easter is early this year, every, but every, museum is opening a major exhibition in the course of March 2018, in preparation for the unofficial start of the tourist season in April.

A situation which leaves us with the daunting possibility of creating 5 such Top 5 lists. And still having some exhibitions left over.

Faced with a similar situation back in November 2017 we referred to the abundance of options which lay before us as being akin to “gardens mottled with the vibrant leaves of autumn”, here it is much more the case of lawns bestrewn with the tantalising hues of Easter Eggs. And while some will unquestionably be those disappointingly hollow ones, the majority look like being solid lumps of architecture and design endorphin loaded goodness into which to sink your teeth, and thereby celebrate the end of winter’s paucity and the coming spring.

In that sense, our top 5 new architecture and design EGGsibitions for March 2018 …. Bon appétit!!!

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for March 2018

With the exhibition INSIDE architecture by Åke Axelsson, Jonas Bohlin, Mats Theselius Sweden’s Konstakademien, Royal Academy, pay tribute not to the architecture of Messrs Axelsson, Bohlin & Theselius, but to the interior and furniture design work of three: and in doing so neatly underscore the function of the interior architect and the important link between interior design and furniture design.

Works by Mats Theselius, as seen at INSIDE architecture by Åke Axelsson, Jonas Bohlin, Mats Theselius @ Konstakademien, Stockholm

Organised by the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design, IKEA, the City of Malmö and ArkDes, Sweden’s national architecture and design museum, the annual Ung Svensk Form/Young Swedish Design award/platform, premiers young design talents not only of Swedish birth, but non-Swedes currently based in Sweden, regardless of genre, but who, in the words of outgoing Swedish Society of Crafts and Design CEO Ewa Kumlin, “experiment freely, venture without fear, believe in their ideas and have the strength to implement them”

Celebrating its 20th edition Ung Svensk Form/Young Swedish Design 2018 features the work of 29 creatives; works which can be experienced in the Ung Svensk Form/Young Swedish Design 2018 Exhibition at ArkDes, Exercisplan 4, Skeppsholmen Stockholm until Sunday March 18th.

As ever with such competitions, the jury have made their choices, the work is on display, and now it is up to the visitors to form their own opinion on the validity, or otherwise, of the inclusions. For those who can’t make it to Stockholm, the exhibition will be touring, see local press for details, and all winners are listed online at http://ungsvenskform.se

We have made it to Stockholm, a few thoughts on some of the projects….

Ung Svensk Form/Young Swedish Design 2018 Exhibition, ArkDes Stockholm

One of the early highlights of our 2017 #campustour was the Arc Collection by Marie Hesseldahl & Nanna Neergaard created in context of their Diploma project at Design School Kolding.

Consequently it was a particularly pleasing mødes igen with the Arc Collection at IMM Cologne 2018 where it was launched as a product family by Danish manufacturer Le Klint.

Arc Pendant Lamp by Manér Studio for Le Klint, as seen at IMM Cologne 2018

We can’t remember exactly when we first came across Prague based creative collective Okolo, but certainly by the autumn of 2014 we were very much liking what they were doing: April 2014 seeing the exhibition Okolo Offline at Depot Basel and in September Okolo Offline Two – Collecting at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden, both of which in their own gentle ways guided the visitor into and through the Okolo world.

Keen to better understand that world we met up with Okolo co-founder Adam Štěch…..

Okolo Magazine Lausanne (Photo courtesy Okolo)

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a ticket for a design exhibition.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two tickets for two design exhibitions, and a ticket for a design exhibition.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…… You get the idea.

Our five goohoold rings for December 2017 are new architecture and design exhibitions in Winterthur, Barcelona, New York, Munich and Moscow.

5 New Design Exhibitions for December 2017

Whereas exhibitions featured in these pages are normally still in the first flush of youth, having recently enjoyed their vernissage and thus making their first public appearance, the presentation of Two German Architectures 1949-1989 at the Technische Universität Berlin is much more a finissage.

After a 13 year, 26 city, global tour, the exhibition has, in many regards, come home to retire.

Two German Architectures 1949 - 1989 @ the Technische Universität Berlin

The first metaphors may, or may not, have been animal based, but materials are just as adaptable. And few are as adaptable as glass. The Glass Ceiling as the impenetrable, yet invisible boundary. The Heart of Glass as a state of extreme emotional weakness. Yet when most people use glass as a metaphor they are using in itself as a metaphor, for transparency.

With the exhibition Welt aus Glas. Transparentes Design the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus Bremen abstract that metaphor to explore the link between transparency in design and architecture, and transparency in society.

Welt aus Glas. Transparentes Design at the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus Bremen

As any fule kno, an echo requires a surface off which to reflect.

Otherwise it is just shouting into the void.

With the exhibition Echoes – 100 Years in Finnish Design and Architecture at the Felleshus, Berlin, that reflective surface is the traditions, cultures and landscapes of north-east Europe.

Echoes - 100 Years in Finnish Design and Architecture @ Felleshus, The Nordic Embassies, Berlin

Back in the day one of the joys of reading the British Yellow Pages was the entry for Boring: “See Civil Engineers”*

Oh how we laughed! And still do!

Partly to counter such negative associations, partly to explain what Civil Engineers do, and partly to explain just how fundamentally that what Civil Engineers do has contributed to our contemporary society, and the multitude of possibilities available to us, whether we choose to take them or not, the Oskar von Miller Forum Munich is staging the exhibition Visionäre und Alltagshelden. Ingenieure – Bauen – Zukunft.

Visionäre und Alltagshelden. Ingenieure – Bauen – Zukunft @ the Oskar von Miller Forum Munich

Architects are always very keen to stress how they are working in the interests of society, for society. Often selflessly so.

Yet little polarises society quite like architecture.

And no architecture polarises quite like Brutalism.

Whereas in discourses on other architectural genres the middle ground is a place where those of moderate opinions can meet objectively and attempt to approach one another’s position: there are no Brutalism moderates.

With the exhibition SOS Brutalism – Save the Concrete Monsters, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt becomes that objective middle ground and thereby enables a very welcome discussion on Brutalism, its origins and its legacy.

SOS Brutalism - Save the Concrete Monsters at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt

Like gardens mottled with the vibrant leaves of autumn, so too is November 2017 bestrewn with a multicoloured carpet of new design and architecture exhibitions. We could have published three such lists, seriously considered it …. have however instead taken the opportunity to bring our monthly recommendations average up to where it should be. Five.

Back in August we only had four new recommendations, and so to compensate summer’s shortfall, here we present six, technically seven. Although it could have been 15.

Which all of course means you, dear reader, have no excuse for not visiting a new design or architecture exhibition, for wherever you may be, there is one opening near you. So get out there and start raking up those leaves exhibitions!!!

5 New Design Exhibitions for November 2017

“The problem of the construction of affordable housing for the lowest earning sections of the population is currently a primary concern in almost all civilized countries.”

Thus invited the Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne to their second congress, a three day event which opened on Thursday October 24th 1929 in the Palmengarten Frankfurt am Main, and which saw some of the leading protagonists of inter-war architecture discuss potential solutions for that most primary of concerns.

The success of the Frankfurt congress can perhaps be best summed up by the contemporary relevance of the invitation.

Furniture for Neue Frankfurt by Ferdinand Kramer, as seen at Germany versus France. The Struggle over Style 1900-1930, Bröhan Museum Berlin

“October is the month of painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight”

Before Henry David Thoreau’s twilight comes, our five painted leaves, flashing their rich glow round the world from Nürnberg, Lausanne, Hamburg, Eindhoven and Barcelona.

5 New Design Exhibitions for October 2017

The September architecture and design exhibition recommendations are arguably the cruellest to write: the fact that the majority of the exhibitions end in the depths of the European winter meaning that as we sit here hoping that summer keeps going just a little, little, longer…. we’re forced to think about winter jackets and gloves.

And so before things get that far, best get out there and visit an exhibition!! Our five recommendations for September 2017 feature new exhibitions in Weil am Rhein, Los Angeles, Utrecht, Frankfurt and Malmö…….

smow blog 5 New Design Exhibitions for September 2017

Without wanting to in any way detract from the work undertaken by Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee students in the past year, a highlight of our visit to the 2017 Rundgang summer exhibition was the thunderstorm which broke while we there. Calling it biblical would be to trivialise the ferocity with which it smit the day asunder, turning in its fury the Bühringstraße in front of the school into a Bühring Straits. And the first of three storms which broke over Berlin in quick succession, almost sinking the German capital.

Magnificent, imposing and a joy to behold. But would the 2017 Rundgang also make such a positive and lasting impression……..?

Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee