Category: Architecture


If you are planning visiting an architecture or design museum, anywhere in the world, in 2019, it will be staging a Bauhaus themed special exhibition. Guaranteed. There are literally millions of them lined up. If not billions.

Which is no complaint. Or at least not unless they are exhibitions based on formulaic, lazy clichés. Then it is very much a complaint. But if they are exhibitions which take open, honest and unblinkered views on either the institution as a whole or a specific, ideally, under researched, aspect of the institution, and of course remember that it is 100 years Bauhaus Weimar, and not 100 years Bauhaus Dessau, then it is no complaint.

Consequently, December 2018 could be your last chance to experience anything else for a goodly while.

Our Bauhaus free recommendations or December 2018 can be found in Vienna, Dortmund, New York, London & San Francisco……..

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for December 2018

Much as ever increasing co-working is altering understandings of and relations to work practises and office spaces, so to is ever increasing co-habitation altering understandings of and relations to domestic practises and spaces.

Albeit domestic understandings that are altering without as much public discourse as afforded those occurring in the workplace.

With the exhibition Together. The new architecture of the collective the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig explore, and thereby allow for a focus on, contemporary communal living.

Poolhaus Vienna, as seen at Together. The new architecture of the collective the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig

How many stories can a city tell? There are the public, collective, communal stories told by its buildings, by its peoples, by its industries, by the development of its cultural institutions and through the actions of famous/infamous citizens; but there are also the myriad private, individual stories, the scurrilous, the appalling, the romantic, the comic, the tragic, the improbable, and of course the secret, whispered, ones.

At the risk of sounding like a city marketing platform, a city is the sum of its stories. And is thereby always in flux.

For Waidblicke #3 smow Cologne invited selected professional and student architects, photographers and designers to reflect on Cologne’s Stadtgeschichte(n) – City (Hi)stories

The Cologne City Wall as imagined by Corporate Architecture students from Cologne Institute of Architectural Design (CIAD), as seen at Waidblicke #3: Stadtgeschichte(n), smow Köln

Remember, Remember!
The fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot……

Thus begins the traditional song commemorating, and urging us all never to forget, Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators attempts to overthrow the English parliament of the day, their plotting to install a new parliament, one more in line with their ideological position, for all one more in line with their ideological understanding of the English parliament’s future relationship to the dominant extra-governmental power of contemporary continental Europe.

That however was Westminster in November 1605. Such treachery and plotting would be unimaginable in Westminster in November 2018.

And so we can all relax and sing,

Remember, Remember!
The five smow blog architecture and design recommendations of November,
Ditzel, von Borries, Japan, Latvia and Duchamp.

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for November 2018

Recycling, reuse and reappropriation are not only subjects for product design, but also for architecture, which hopefully isn’t new information, even if considerations on such (arguably) aren’t always at the forefront of architects thoughts, far less architectural planning.

Even if they (equally arguably) should be.

With the exhibition Transform the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum Basel make an appeal not only for more, better considered, recycling, reuse and reappropriation in architecture, but explore three contemporary projects which demonstrate how such can function, and thereby serving as impeti* for further projects.

Cité du Grand Parc Bordeaux by Lacaton & Vassal, Druot Hutin - left what was, right the new extension, as seen at Transform S AM Swiss Architecture Museum Basel

“I am happy to supply you with photos of a larger building that has recently been completed, and which, for me, is one in which I have succeeded in most clearly expressing my views on art”, wrote the German architect, designer and artist Peter Behrens in 1931, “it is the central warehouse and the associated administration building of the Gutehoffnungshütte Oberhausen, Rhineland”1

With the exhibition Peter Behrens – Art and Technology that clearest expression of Behrens’ view on art hosts an exhibition explaining how he arrived at such an expression, and the wider development of his understanding of the relationship between art and technology.

Peter Behrens - Art and Technology @ the LVR-Industriemuseum Oberhausen

Fragility is in many regards the natural state of all systems and organisms.

Something the Second Law of Thermodynamics tends to support.

Given this inherent fragility, the secret to existence is largely a perpetual struggle to prevent fragility becoming the defining condition of a system/organism, in keeping the fragility in the background: something our organic and non-organic systems have developed very clever and astute methods for achieving, so much so that we normally are unaware of fragility, although it is always present.

Which, arguably, is the reason we find such strong, contradictory, emotions in fragility: for example, on the one hand the beauty we find in fragility, on the our other how our, and our environment’s, fragility can elicit fear and despondency.

Considerations on, and responses to, our, and our environment’s, fragility are one the central themes of the 2018 Reciprocity Design Triennale Liège.

Precarious Architecture & Design, Fragilitas, La Boverie, as seen during Reciprocity Design Triennale Liege 2018

If Jean-Claude Juncker gets his way October 2018 could see the clocks of Europe turned back an hour for the final time.

And thereby bringing to an end the long tradition of local newspapers publishing bi-annual articles documenting the curious tales and legends of town clocks, stories from the Schwarzwald on the largest and smallest cuckoo clocks, and photographs of horologists surrounded by the 350+ clocks and watches they need to reset.

For our part, we’ll miss them.

It will also mean you won’t have that extra hour the last Sunday in October to enjoy an extra leisurely visit to an architecture and/or design exhibition, so take the chance while you can…..

Our five recommendations for using that extra hour in October 2018 can be found in Hamburg, Weil am Rhein, Zürich, Paris and Helsinki.

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for October 2018

While for most locations a design week is sufficient, Brussels takes a whole month. We’ve never asked why, just assume it is because in the bi-lingual Franco-Dutch city where everything has to be repeated twice, thrice when one considers the more or less obligatory English required for the large diplomatic community in the de facto European capital, everyone is just used to things taking a little longer and plan accordingly.

Whatever the reason, throughout September Brussels is playing host to a wide variety of design events, events reflecting various definitions, understandings and degrees of design, and over the next couple of weeks we’ll bring you some of those projects which particularly caught our attention, starting with an exploration of nature that while presenting unmistakable parallels to Brussels’ Art Nouveau heritage, couldn’t be further removed.

Marcin Rusak - Nature of Things II at the Horta Museum Brussels

According to Germanic lore, “ein guter Septemberregen kommt nie ungelegen“, a good rain in September is never inopportune.

This year arguably more so than ever.

Similarly a good architecture and design exhibition in September is never inopportune.

And, and keeping with rain metaphors, while we can all remember what rain is, September 2018, sees a proper downpour of new architecture and design exhibitions. A downpour that is particularly opportune. Following July’s drought and its meagre 4 recommendations we have a ongoing deficit of one in our annual quota, the current deluge however means that for September 2018 we can present 6.

And so grab your umbrellas and take yourselves to an architecture and/or design exhibition this September. Our recommendations can be found in Kolding, Munich, London, Herford, Moscow and Weil am Rhein……..

5 new Architecture & Design Exhibitions September 2018

Multi-storey car parks are many things to many people. For skateboarders a playground, for love-torn teens a place of privacy, for authors and film-makers an all too easy metaphor, and for yet others ….. somewhere to park their car.

For the German architect Paul Schneider-Esleben the multi-storey car park represents his career breakthrough. And one of his most defining projects.

Lichtplatz Car Park (Hanielgarage), Düsseldorf by Paul Schneider-Esleben

Counting amongst its alumni the likes of Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, Nanna Ditzel, Kaare Klint, Georg Jensen, do stop us if we get boring, Verner Panton, Thorvald Bindesbøll, Ole Wanscher, Poul Kjærholm, and pretty much any other Danish designer or architect of whom you’ve ever heard, and a great many more of whom you haven’t, the Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi Copenhagen was formally inaugurated on March 31st 1754 in honour of the 31st birthday of Frederik V.

But is it a gift that keeps on giving?

A visit to the Schools’ of Architecture, Design and Conservation 2018 graduation exhibition promised to provide some answers……

KADK, Løsninger

Systems bring order to chaos, allow relationships to be understood/defined, enable standardisation. And depend on a carefully considered, well designed and constructed connector.

In 1939 the German architect Konrad Wachsmann developed a metal connector which subsequently became the central component of the General Panel prefabricated construction system developed by Wachsmann in cooperation with Walter Gropius.

In 2018 the Bauhaus Lab reflected on that connector, Konrad Wachsmann and standardised, prefabricated construction systems. The results of those reflections were discussed in a one day symposium, and can be viewed in the exhibition The Art of Joining: Designing the Universal Connector at Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau.

Bauhaus Lab 2018. The Art of Joining: Designing the Universal Connector, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau

“It is a peculiar tension that precedes a first visit to a painting exhibition”, opined the Dutch art critic Jacques van Santen Kolff in the introduction to his four part review of the 1875 exhibition at the Teeken-Akademie Den Haag, “there is a unique charm, something stimulating in that nervousness, an eminently “picturesque” tension.”1

Kolff wasn’t disappointed, that which he had sensed in the air was confirmed by that which hung on the walls and led him to coin the term “Hague School”, thus giving a name, a status, a relevance, to a contemporary movement in Dutch art, one which, according to Kolff, was a “new ultra-radical movement.”

We felt that peculiar tension, that unique charm and stimulating nervousness as we approached the Teeken-Akademie’s successor, the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten Den Haag’s, 2018 Graduation Festival.

But would we be as fundamentally convinced by what we saw in 2018 as Kolff was in 1875? Would we subsequently speak of a “new ultra-radical movement” in Dutch design?

And would our review run to four parts………

Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten Den Haag

Writing to his friend Heinrich Köselitz in August 1881 Friedrich Nietzsche remarked, “My dear friend! The August sun hangs over us, the year drifts by, it is quieter and more peaceful on the mountains and in the forests. On my horizon thoughts have arisen, the likes of which I have never known….”

We like to imagine that those thoughts arose through his having visited an architecture and/or design exhibition. Were he still with us, we’d suggest he visited the following vista extending showcases opening in Saint Petersburg, Weil am Rhein, Rostock, London and Hasselt….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for August 2018

Since 2000 Utrecht has been home to, when not the world’s longest poem, then certainly the world’s longest-term poem: running its way down Oudegracht through the heart of the inner-island, De Letters van Utrecht is extended every Saturday by the addition of a new letter, a process planned to continue ad infinitum. And which is in many ways similar to how smow blog posts are formed: we start writing, adding new words at regular intervals, without any real plan, far less any intention, ever to stop, but rather to just keep going on and on and on and on and on and on…….

As we strolled down Oudegracht towards the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht’s Exposure 2018 Graduation Exhibition the last letter set was number 965, was to be the first letter of a new word, and was a Z. But what would the new word be? Zaaien? Zaakkennis? Zakken, zalig, zalf, zagen, zangliefhebber, zakdoekjesboom, zandloperdolfijn?

Putting down our dictionaries we headed for the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht…….

Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, Design Department, Pastoe Fabriek

“We are children of the age of the steam engine, the telegraph and electricity. We have turned our backs on the beautiful, and that is why we no longer understand it”, bemoaned the Dutch draughtsman, designer and educator Johannes Ros in his 1904 text “Het doel” [The goal/target/objective]

How Johannes Ros and his contemporaries attempted a return to the beautiful, indeed what was understood as beautiful in the Netherlands at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, and for all the particular Dutch accent of that attempt/understanding is explored in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag’s exhibition Art Nouveau in Nederland.

Art Nouveau in Nederland, The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Tracing its history back to 1899 the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design a.k.a The Cass has an established place in the (hi)story of English design, for all in woodcraft based design including toys, music instruments and furniture.

But as we all know a long history and illustrious alumni are poor hooks on which to hang the future of an institution, much more robust are the current staff, students and their work.

The 2018 Cass Summer Show allowed some insights into the contemporary Cass……

Cass London, Calcutta House

The Dog Days of summer are with us and, as is traditional, the international curatorial community have removed themselves to the cooler climes of their storerooms, archives and libraries to sit out the heat until autumn’s bracing breeze tempts them back out.

Which, logically, means a great sparsity of new architecture and design exhibitions opening in July 2018.

A sparsity however isn’t a nontity and in four of the world’s cultural and meteorological hotspots one finds exhibition curators more accustomed to the heat and humidity of July……
five new architecture and design exhibitions july 2018

Whoever thinks of Switzerland thinks of Swiss clockwork, Swiss railways, Swiss chocolate, Swiss precision.

It’s therefore all the more surprising that Dada has its European origins in Switzerland, and for all in the legendary Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich.

But would the 2018 Zürcher Hochschule der Künste graduates prove as anarchic, confrontational, spirited and revolutionary in their creativity……..?

Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Toni-Areal, Zürich.

“Memphis in June,
A shady veranda under a Sunday blue sky,
Memphis in June,
And cousin Amanda’s makin’ a rhubarb pie”

(Memphis in June, Hoagy Carmichael)

Sounds lovely Hoagy, but we’ll have to pass, because despite Memphis having some interesting museums, we can’t find one opening a new architecture or design exhibition in June 2018.

Consequently, and unlike Marc Cohn, we’ll not be “Walking in Memphis” this June, but in Düsseldorf, Espoo, Andelsbuch, Rotterdam and San Francisco…..

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for June 2018

“This exhibition intends to acknowledge the cultural achievements of Italian design in the last decade, to honor the accomplishments of its gifted designers and incisive critics, and to illustrate the diversity of their approaches to design by presenting a collection of the most interesting examples of their work.”1

Thus announced the curators of the Museum of Modern Art’s 1972 exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape their intentions.

The New Domestic Landscape portrayed by the gifted designers accomplishments and diversity of their approaches wasn’t however, necessarily, one inhabited by voluminously upholstered sofas and elegant lighting…….

Italy The New Domestic Landscape The Museum of Modern Art, New York 1972

For the German architect, designer, artist Peter Behrens it was important that the exterior reflected a building’s intended function, that the exterior provided information about the nature of the building and its occupants.

We suspect therefore he would greatly approve of the title of the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne’s exhibition in honour of his 150th birthday, neatly encapsulating as it does the nature of its protagonist.

#all-rounder

Peter Behrens. #all-rounder, the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne

In the wonderful month of May,
As all the buds bloomed,
My heart became,
With Love consumed

In the wonderful month of May,
As all the birds did sing,
I confessed to her
My desire and yearning.

Heinrich Heine, Im wunderschönen Monat Mai, 1827

And then???

Heinrich, don’t leave us hanging! It all started out so positive!

It’s an awkward month May, the vitality of blooming buds and oratorio of singing birds luring us into hopeful fantasies, utopian visions of what lies ahead: but what will become of them? Will the freshly bloomed buds survive the inevitable late frost? Will the birds’ new chicks evade their predators to flee the nest and carry their song to pastures new? Will she respond to your confessions of desire and yearning?

Probably not. And so therefore rather than losing your May to romantic dreaming, before May becomes but a painful memory of what could have been, something destined to remain forever in the past tense, use it to improve your understandings of the realities of the world around you, to learn to talk confidently in the future.

Our five recommendations for new architecture and design exhibitions opening during May 2018………

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for March 2018

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