Category: Architecture


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

Summer traditionally sees a fall off in the number of new exhibitions opening, the 2017 drought is however especially hard, so much so that we can only find four recommendations. Either the global museum community assume we’re all at the beach, and thus not interested, or expect the world to end in September and so don’t see the point in new exhibitions.

It is a little unclear.

However, not only are we interested, but it takes a little more than the threat of an imminent apocalypse to keep us away from an interesting exhibition ….  our recommendations for August 2017 with new exhibitions in Zürich, Copenhagen, Moscow and Weimar.

5 New Design Exhibitions for August 2017

The Hochschule Wismar is an institution we have wanted to visit for a long time; and no, not just because it means a trip to the Baltic Coast and the historic Hanseatic port, but much more for despite being in no respect the largest design school in Germany, it is one of the most present: from Milan to Berlin to Cologne hardly a design week passes without Wismar.

And so we wanted to understand the school a little better. Which is of course one of the stated aims of our 2017 #campustour, developing a better understanding of contemporary design education and those schools responsible.

The thought of a Sunday afternoon on the Baltic Coast admittedly didn’t make the decision any harder…..

Hochschule Wismar Faculty of Design

Although older than Bauhaus Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle has arguably never achieved the same popular acclaim as its fêted near neighbour.

Is however still in existence, and thus need not live on its laurels, but rather can continually develop its legacy through the efforts and ideas of its staff and students.

The 2017 annual summer exhibition provided insights into the contribution made, and being made, by the current crop……..

Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle: The Goldbau

Sited in the gentile calm of Pimlico, Chelsea College of Arts sits between the independent free-thinking of the Tate Britain, the original Tate with its collection of British and international art from 1500 until today, and the state control and surveillance of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, in their unobtrusive bunker on the opposite bank of the Thames

But where would the conformity/rebellion equilibrium be found amongst the current crop of Chelsea students…….

Chelsea College of Arts, London. Tate Britain on the left, the College builing on the right

Few materials can have claimed to have influenced architecture and design in quite the way plywood has.

And thereby remained as anonymous as plywood, easily overlooked in public and barely researched in an academic context as it is.

With the exhibition Plywood: Material of the Modern World, the V&A Museum London aim to redress both.

Plywood: Material of the Modern World at the V&A London

As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations Design School Kolding are staging the exhibition Beyond Icons – New perspectives on design, a showcase of 50 objects which presents a very personal interpretation of good design and thereby challenges popular conventions.

Beyond Icons - New perspectives on design at Koldinghus, Kolding

The Cass is situated in London’s Whitechapel, not far from the East London Mosque and in an area long a centre of London’s Muslim community. The day we visited the Cass Summer Show it was Eid al-Fitr, a festival of family, feasts and finery. The narrow streets of Whitechapel awash with smartly attired, good humoured locals, or possibly just smartly attired locals high on sugar, for Eid al-Fitr is also a festival of sweetness at the end of Ramadan.

Cakes and sweets as far as the eye could see. And far, far beyond.

But would we find any bonbons in the Cass Summer Show…….

Central House, home of the Cass, London

“What are you going to do this summer, Amory?”, Tom D’Invilliers asks of Amory Blaine in F Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise.

“Don’t ask me”, comes the somewhat languid reply, “same old things, I suppose. A month or two in Lake Geneva — I’m counting on you to be there in July, you know — then there’ll be Minneapolis, and that means hundreds of summer hops, parlor-snaking, getting bored…..”

Sorry Amory, but you’ll have to survive the magnificence of Lake Geneva on your own, would have been our response. We’ve got new design and architecture exhibitions in London, Berlin, New York and Holon to visit!

But we’ll definitely catch up with you afterwards in Minneapolis for a bit hopping and parlor-snaking…….

5 New Design Exhibitions for June 2017

Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue…..

Life is so simple as a child.

Yet whereas in almost all other respects the progression to adulthood is one of simplicity to complexity, in terms of our understanding of colour we never lose our inner child.

With the exhibition Breathing Colour at the Design Museum London the Dutch designer Hella Jongerius encourages us to sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow new.

Noon colour catchers, as seen at Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius, London Design Museum

With their eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead, the riders in the 2017 Tour de France prologue time trial through the streets of Düsseldorf on July 1st will have no thoughts for the buildings they pass.

Which is a shame, because as a city Düsseldorf has more than its fair share of buildings which are not only architecturally interesting and important, but whose stories are often interesting and important in wider cultural contexts.

Interesting and important architecture and stories the Tour de France competitors could become acquainted with. If they just slowed down.

Cycling at a pace which allows one to enjoy Dusseldorf's architecture, such as the 1926 Rheinterrasse

It is fair to say that Malmö University wasn’t on our radar before we began our 2017 #campustour.

Which is in no way to detract from the institution, far from it, much more it highlights our ignorance. And also one of the aims of our tour, achieving a better understanding of contemporary European design education.

Form/Design Center Malmö

At the opening of the exhibition Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec – Rêveries Urbaines at the Vitra Design Museum we intimated that the first projects arising from the brother’s research into urban spaces were in an advanced state of planning.

With Oui the Kunsthal Aarhus present the first realised project.

Oui Fireplace by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec at Kunsthal Aarhus

As the apostle Paul once wrote to the people of Galatia, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The manifestation of that wisdom can be observed in the twisted reality of our contemporary farming and food production systems.

What we could, should, sow in order to reap a more sustainable and democratic future harvest, and for all the role our personal relationships’ to food plays in approaching such an answer, is explored in the exhibition Food Revolution 5.0. Design for Tomorrow’s Society at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

Food Revolution 5.0. Design for Tomorrow’s Society at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

In northern hemispheres June marks the start of both astronomical and meteorological summer.

In southern hemispheres June marks the start of both astronomical and meteorological winter.

The one rejoices, the other laments …. and we don’t even notice, far too busy as we are perusing architecture and design exhibitions. Our five recommendations for June 2017 features new shows in Den Haag, Frankfurt, New York, Leipzig and Brussels.

5 New Design Exhibitions for June 2017

On May 1st 1851 Queen Victoria opened The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park London: the first “World’s Fair”, an event which celebrated the advances of the industrial age, and whose influence on industry, engineering, science, architecture and society was to resonate globally for decades, acting as it did as the motor for the quickening technological advances of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. While the profit generated from the 6 million visitors allowed for the construction of London’s Science Museum, Natural History Museum and neighbouring Victoria and Albert Museum.

If any of the numerous architecture and design exhibitions opening globally in May 2017 will become quite so pivotal remains to be seen. Our top five can be found in Hamburg, Atlanta, Amsterdam, London and Stuttgart.

5 New Design Exhibitions for March 2017

While it’s hard to feel anything even vaguely resembling joy in a month which sees the UK start its senseless and cowardly, withdrawal from the European Union … life goes on!!

Our five top distractions for April 2017 features new design and architecture exhibitions in Berlin, New York, Paris, Dessau and Milan.

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

“Have you ever met a robot?” asks the Vitra Design Museum.

The answer is yes.

The answers to the other 13 questions posed by the exhibition Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine are not necessarily so easily answered: but are important for defining our relationship with digital technology.

Vitra Design Museum presents Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine

Our picks from the new architecture and design exhibitions opening in February 2017, featuring showcases in Weil am Rhein, Falkenberg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Berlin and Groningen.

five new design exhibitions february 2017

The German architect and designer Ferdinand Kramer didn’t just translate the new principles of construction and design which arose in the inter-war years into his architecture, furniture and industrial designs, he was also a very eloquent writer on such matters, and thus helped, and continues to help, explain the motivations behind, and fascination with, functionalist ideals.

The Kramer Principle Design for Variable Use Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt am Main Chair B 403 Thonet

The 1973 film Ceremony by Italian architecture group Superstudio features individuals who inhabit the “Invisible House”, a house devoid of not only a physical structure but, we are told by the narrator, all forms of furniture.

The inhabitants of the invisible house are happy.

Despite this and their other regular very public pronunciations against architecture and design, from their earliest days Italian architecture group Superstudio also designed furniture and lighting: a selection of which can be enjoyed in the exhibition Superstudio Mobilia 1966-2016 at Ungers Archiv für Architekturwissenschaft, UAA, in Cologne.

Superstudio Mobilia 1966-2016 at Ungers Archiv für Architekturwissenschaft Cologne

Bauhaus Dessau was officially opened on December 4th 1926, and by way of celebrating the institution’s 90th anniversary on December 4th 2016 the foundation stone will be laid for the new Bauhaus Museum Dessau; an act which comes just one month after the foundation stone was laid for the new Bauhaus Museum Weimar. Both museums being built in preparation for the coming centenary of Bauhaus’s 1919 inauguration.

An apposite moment we thought to reflect on how Bauhaus was received, or at least how it was received in the early years, in its new, old, East German home1

Bauhaus Museum Dessau , view from Stadtpark (Image © Gonzalez Hinz Zabala courtesy Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau)

Five recommendations for new architecture and design exhibitions opening in December 2016, featuring shows in Copenhagen, Weimar, Nürnberg, London and Munich

5 New Design Exhibitions for December 2016