Category: Architecture


In 1947 the American designer Edward J Wormley reflected in the New York Times on what contemporary furniture could, should, be, and amongst his thoughts on beds, chairs, storage units et al, opined that “an ideal table would be a flat plane suspended in space”, and that not least because “it’s the legs that are the big nuisance”.

“Can we find this kind of furniture in today’s market?”, he asked his readers, albeit, rhetorically, “You know we can’t.”1

Which tends to imply Wormley didn’t visit the Home Show exhibition in New York in April 1930, for had he, he would have seen Friedrich Kiesler’s Flying Desk…….

Friedrich Kiesler's Flying Desk as seen at the 1930 Home Show, New York. Note also the base of the armchair on the left, a very nice early example of a sled base...... There is, in effect, only one photo of the Flying Desk and it is under copyright, and, as yet we don't have permission to publish it. We're trying to get that permission and are hopeful we can depixelise soon. Which would be great, because as a work it deserves to be, demands to be, seen, enjoyed, analysed, further developed...... Until then it can be seen in neigh on all books about Friedrich Kiesler.......

In September 1839 Henry David Thoreau and his brother John spent two weeks navigating the Concord and Merrimack rivers on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border. A boat trip, a journey, motivated by Thoreau’s long time observation of the Concord river, and for all its many organic and inorganic inhabitants, floating past him, “fulfilling their fate” as they did; and which inspired Thoreau to “launch myself on its bosom and float wither it would bear me.”1

Which is not only a very positive attitude to life, but also to approaching an architecture and/or design exhibition: launch yourself at it and see whither it bears you.

Our five recommendations for allowing yourself to carried off to pastures unknown, and possibly fulfilling fate as you are, in September 2022 can be found in Frankfurt, Hornu, Kolding, Rotterdam and Los Angeles…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for September 2022

Summer Break!!!

Not us!!!

We’re still here, tirelessly toiling to provide the fuel to keep your fires of inquiry burning bright and thereby powering your ongoing exploration into the depths and breadths of design. And your deconstruction of the simplifications, half-truths and objectifications that have become popularly confused for design.

But the international architecture and design museum community have collectively decided not to open any new exhibitions in August 2022.

We’re not bragging, it’s not what we do, but we do possess inarguably the largest global databank of architecture, design (and art) museums ever compiled, a resource that is continually growing, a resource through which we continually move, within which in many regards we live. And a resource which reveals no new architecture or design relevant exhibitions opening in August 2022.1

One.

Globally we found one new exhibition opening in August 2022 that would fit our criteria for being an exhibtion worthy of recommendation before it has opened and revealed what it actually it is not that which the curators claim it is.

But one is too few for a list. We will however visit it and, should it live up to its promise, report on it in due course.

Not that no new exhibtion openings means the global architecture and design museum community are all on holiday, far from it, they have simply retreated to the cool of their archives; and September and October should, will, offer veritable bounties of easily recommendable new shows.

Nor does no new exhibtion openings mean the global architecture and design museum community are closed. They are very much open, and very much should, must, be visited.2

Thus in place of a list of new exhibitions, we offer two geographically arranged lists of those architecture and design exhibitions on show in August 2022 and which you can, should, must, visit…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for August 2022

For all that the (hi)story of architecture and design is one staged against a background of economic, social, environmental, cultural, et al evolutions and developments, it is also a (hi)story fundamentally dependent upon developments and evolutions in materials, and also in the development and subsequent evolution of novel technologies. Novel technologies and materials which not only enable new approaches to the construction of our buildings and the manufacturing of our objects of daily use, but also enable new forms which offer the possibility of new functionalities and new relationships; new functionalities and new relationships appropriate for and demanded by the age, appropriate for and demanded by the contemporary economic, social, environmental, cultural, et al realities. And which ultimately allow that age to develop into, segue into, the next.

With PRINT3D. Reprint Reality the CaixaForum, Sevilla, allow space for reflections on the actuality, and future possibilities, of 3D printing, a technology that although it has been around for a few decades is, arguably, only now starting to fully reveal its potential and indicate where and how it could contribute to the future of architecture and design. And thereby contribute to future society…….

3D printed furniture by The New Raw at the entrance to PRINT3D. Reprint Reality, CaixaForum, Sevilla

Against the background of an ongoing climate emergency, rising nationalism, ever more politically active religious fanaticism of all hues, a Covid pandemic that refuses to go quietly, the return of War to Europe, amongst a great many other contemporary existential ills, there are a myriad questions we’d all rather be asked than if you believe in the future?

We’d all like to believe, but, well…….hhhmmm……. you know…….

The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg however considered the question particularly apposite, necessary even.

And so asked.

And ask.

Ask Me if I Believe in the Future, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

“One day in the midst of a burning July,
When meadows were parched and the rivulets dry,
A cluster of Bees in extreme……. anticipation,
Flew towards…… a design exhibition”1

(With apologies to Sara Coleridge)

Our five welcoming, stimulating, retreats for bees, or anyone or anything, from the parching burning of July 2022 can be found in Munich, Metz, Tulsa, Vienna and Bordeaux…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for July 2022

“Reinforced concrete is the best constructional material yet devised by mankind”, enthused the Italian civil engineer Pier Luigi Nervi in 1956.1

A position Nervi spent a circa sixty year career arguing for, both in innumerable texts and through a canon of varied, and varyingly challenging, constructions throughout Italy, and much further afield. And in doing so Pier Luigi Nervi not only helped advance a popular acceptance of reinforced concrete as a construction material, but also helped develop an argument that in context of our built environment how we construct is, in many regards, more important than what we construct. An argument that has lost none of its contemporaneous since Pier Luigi Nervi first advanced it…….

Pier Luigi Nervi (1891 1979)

With the Boötids, the Arietids and the Beta Taurids June is an eventful month for meteor showers; and a month of great promise for all those who hope their most earnest wishes for the future will be fulfilled through entrusting them to a shooting star.

If only their wasn’t the seemingly endless wait for nightfall, the seemingly endless sitting and streaming and snacking and stupor of waiting…….

Alternatively, use the day(s) ahead of the arrival of those celestial messengers of hope in perusing a good architecture and/or design exhibition: something that may enrich your life in ways you could never have imagined. Far less hoped for. And could lead you, could lead us all, to a future better, more promising and more fulfilling than you/we could ever have wished for. Could ever have achieved through the sitting and streaming and snacking and stupor of waiting for the future.

But you can still watch the meteors when they appear. And wish upon a star.

Our four meaningful distractions until nightfall in June 2022 can be found in Berlin, Rotterdam, Wrocław and Copenhagen……

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for June 2022

“The May of life blooms but once”, reflects Friedrich Schiller, continuing, “It has faded for me”.1

Cheer up Freddie!!!

And there’s nothing quite like a good architecture or design exhibition to revitalise all your faculties.

Our recommended fertilizers for the zest of life in May 2022 can be found in Berlin, Den Haag, Brussels, Pfäffikon SZ and Amsterdam…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for May 2022

“Green is beautiful” proclaims an anonymous youth, an anonymous youth blind since birth, from Sophie Calle’s 1986 photography project The Blind, “because every time I like something, I’m told it’s green. Grass is green, trees, leaves, nature too… I like to dress in green”.

An indication, a confirmation, that even for those who have never seen colour, colour can awaken associations, stir emotions, have agency on the human being.

With the exhibition Color as Program. Part One the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, explore colour beyond its physical reality, and in doing so allow for differentiated insights and perspectives into and on our relationships with colour, with colours.

Tanz RGBCMYK by Antje Majewski, as seen at Color as Program. Part One, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn

“Everything is sculpture” opined once Isamu Noguchi.1

But is it?

The exhibtion Isa­mu Noguchi in the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, Cologne, allows one to engage with, reflect on, immerse yourself in Isamu Noguchi’s life and work, and thus to better approach your own opinion on Isamu Noguchi’s firmly held conviction…..

Isamu Noguchi, Museum Ludwig, Cologne

As here in the northern hemisphere winter cedes to spring, not only is nature once again reawakening from its long repose but so too is the international museum community; and that, one senses, with more vigour than in the most recent springs where the Covid pandemic induced upsetting of the established order of the museal ecosystem, through both enforced closures and fundamental disruptions of essential exhibition development processes, dimmed somewhat the promise of the annual spring blush.

In spring 2022, one sense from wandering through the global museum landscape, the vitality, and for all variety, has returned to that landscape.

Which is to be welcomed, for little is as effective in helping us all broaden our minds, expand our perspectives, appreciate unseen associations, free us from prejudices, develop as human beings and as members of a functioning society, than a good museum exhibition. For while a good TV programme or a good podcast can inform, they tend to do so in definitives and in an unyieldingly linear fashion: they tell, they know, just how things were, are, will be. And in their telling tend to leave you bereft of tools of your own. A good museum exhibition in contrast gives you information but primarily bequeaths you a framework in which to develop your own understandings and positions, to question, to challenge, to expand on that which is presented; ’tis but a invitation to let your mind wander as it sees fit. And that in an environment which is devoid of time and space, where you are free to jump about as you wish, go back, rush forward. Stop.

 
 

Start again somewhere else

noiɈɔɘɿib bɘɈɔɘqxɘnυ nɒ ni ɘvoM

Discover new, uncharted, paths.

Thus whereas you can leave a TV programme or a podcast with new information on the subject at hand; you can leave a well organised exhibition not only with new information on the subject at hand, but with your thoughts immersed in a completely different subject and with your mind stimulated, receptive, restless.

And broad, receptive, questioning, unihibited, objective minds freed of definitives are very, very, important at this moment in global (hi)story.

Thus, get thee to an exhibition!

Our five recommendations for exiting the space-time continuum in April 2022 can be found in Essen, Brussels, Stockholm, Linz and Helsinki…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for April 2022

In December 1969 the Austrian TV station ORF broadcast a half-hour portrait of the architect Hans Hollein, including a presentation of Hollein’s Mobile Office project: essentially an inflatable plastic bubble in which one person could sit and work.

“Klingt vielleicht etwas verrückt”, mused the presenter, “sounds perhaps a bit crazy”.

And in 1969 a device, a construct, that allowed for the creation of a private domain in the midst of a public space, unquestionably did sound “etwas verrückt”.

And in 2022…….

Hans Hollein at work in his Mobile Office under the watchful eye of ORF

“It was one of those March days” reflects Philip “Pip” Pirrip in Great Expectations, “when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade”.1

And thus exactly the sort of dithering, indecisive, capricious, March day when rather than surreptitiously rowing down the Thames towards Gravesend, one should seek refuge in the consistent climate and warming intellectual atmosphere of an architecture or design exhibition.

Our five Great exhibition Expectations for March 2022 can be found in Weil am Rhein, Brussels, Wolfsburg, Vienna and Ulm…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for March 2022

According to the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro February 7th marks the first day of spring.

Which strikes us, as we’re sure it does you, as a little early; however, there was reason in Varro’s bold claim, for Varro further sets February 7th as the start of the year, and for all links February 7th with the rising of the west wind, a favourable, warming wind, whose arrival indicates the need to start cultivating your land and crops, specifically Varro advises, “these are things which should be done in the first period, from the rising of the west wind to the vernal equinox: All kinds of nurseries should be set out, orchards pruned, meadows manured, vines trenched and outcropping roots removed, meadows cleared, willow beds planted, grain-land weeded.”1

But not just the cultivation of your land and crops is important from the rising of the west wind to the vernal equinox, the cultivation of mind and spirit and character is of equal importance.

Our five non-agrarian cultivation tips for February 2022 can be found in Halle, Garðabær, Paris, Stockholm and Zürich…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for february 2022 smow blog

According to Germanic folklore, “If January is frosty and cold, a green woodland will soon entice us”.

The implication being that a severe January is the necessary pre-requisite not only for a timeous spring bursting forth with new life, but also for a warm, (meteorologically) settled, summer.

But in the frost and cold and dark and endlessness of January that green (deciduous) woodland is still a long way off, is unimaginable, is unreachable, is almost mythical; however, protection, and distraction, from January can always be found in the warmth and stimulation and light of a good architecture or art or design exhibition.

Our five enticing shelters from the climatic vagaries of January 2022 can be found in Berlin, Humlebæk, Bloomfield Hills, Moscow and New York…….

5 New Architecture and Design Exhibitions January 2022

1 x rounded piece of beech, 2 x quadratic pieces of beech, 3 x quadratic pieces of spruce…

1, 2, 3… An Ulmer Hocker1

With the exhibition The Ulmer Hocker: Idea ─ Icon ─ Idol the HfG-Archiv, Ulm, help elucidate that while an Ulmer Hocker is that simple, it is a deceptive, and highly informative, simplicity…….

The Ulmer Hocker: Idea - Icon - Idol, HfG-Archiv Ulm

In 1922 the Scottish novelist J.M. Barrie told the undergraduates at St. Andrews University “you remember someone said that God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December”, an allusion to the summer of your life filling your darkening winter days with colour and aroma, and an analogy he neatly reinforces a little later with a, “you have June coming”.1

But that was 1922. Roses were seasonal. Today roses are available all year round, which is not only symbolic of the short-sighted idiocy with which we’re intent on destroying our planet, but also means the rose has been reduced from a metaphor that can be so poignantly and joyously employed as Barrie did, to a cheap, stereotypical, derivative trope devoid of real meaning.

Not that a century later we can’t all do things to ensure that as we progress down life’s highway, as we all approach our own, personal, December, we do so with our emotional and mental capacities fully stimulated and finely honed. Amongst the most rewarding method of which is the regular visit to architecture or design exhibitions: spaces, experiences, whose intellectual and cultural stimulation and nourishment mean that it can be forever June.

Our five new Junes blooming forth in the non-metaphoric December 2021, can be found in Vienna, New York, Düsseldorf, Kanazawa and Paris.

And as ever in these times, if you are planning visiting any exhibition please familiarise yourself in advance with the current ticketing, entry, safety, hygiene, cloakroom, etc rules and systems. And during your visit please stay safe, stay responsible, and above all, stay curious……

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for December 2021

“The problem”, elucidated Herman Hertzberger in 1973, in context of his project for the Centraal Beheer insurance company in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, “was to make an office building that would be a working place where everybody would feel at home: a house for 1000 people.”1

How Herman Hertzberger sought to solve that problem not only helping explain aspects of the development of architecture in the course of the 20th century, nor only aspects of the development of office design in the course of the 20th century, but also being informative in context of the problems associated with designing our contemporary, and future, office spaces……

The Centraal Beheer Office Building, Apeldoorn, by Herman Hertzberger, at its official opening on November 1st 1972 (photo Nationaal Archief via https://commons.wikimedia.org cc0)

Whereas politics, economics or sport in West Germany and East Germany are well and widely studied, and the similarities and differences regularly and publicly analysed and contextualised, thereby allowing for more refined, nuanced, popular understandings; design in and from the two Germanys remains, largely, a niche subject for a small band of specialists, and on a popular level something not only repeatedly reduced to a few works, institutions and protagonists, but also defined by understandings that, popularly, have barely changed since 1989.

With the exhibition German Design 1949–1989. Two Countries, One History the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden challenge those ingrained understandings and thereby allow for the development of more differentiated and detached perspectives……

German Design 1949–1989. Two Countries, One History at the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Dresden

“November’s night is dark and drear, The dullest month of all the year”, opined Letitia Elizabeth Landon in 1836, however, ’twas not all doom and gloom, for, as she continues, “the November evening now closing in round Mrs. Cameron’s house was of a very cheerful nature.”*

A cheerfulness in Mrs. Cameron’s house/school occasioned by the gaiety associated with the rapidly approaching annual school prize-giving and ball; and a cheerfulness to banish the dreary darkness of a November evening that can also be achieved through the intellectual stimulation of an architecture and/or design exhibition.

Our five recommended distractions from November 2021 can be found in Frankfurt, Basel, Dresden, Miami Beach and Munich…..

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for November 2021

One could be forgiven for thinking that little would be as pointless as a Le Corbusier colouring-in book.

So singularly achromatic is the popular understanding of Le Corbusier, a lack of colour reinforced by the dour, austere, round bespectacled, persona which so universally defines Le Corbusier: what, one asks oneself, could there possibly be to colour in a Le Corbusier colouring-in book?

Yet in contrast to the popular Le Corbusier image, Le Corbusier’s career was one undertaken in colour. A career accompanied by, informed by, arguably driven by, considerations on and the study of colour.

An (oft overlooked) aspect of his work, of his understandings and approaches, and persona, explored in the exhibition Le Corbusier and Color at the, appropriately kaleidoscopic, Pavillon Le Corbusier, Zürich.

Le Corbusier and Color at the Museum für Gestaltung, Pavillon Le Corbusier, Zürich

“Space and form are important elements in the creation of the [interior] environment”, opined the Danish architect, artist and designer Verner Panton in 1969, however, he continues, “colours are even more important”.

And no-one, even those with but the briefest familiarity with Verner Panton, can oversee the colour in Verner Panton’s work.

Yet important as colour and space and form were for Panton, “in the creation of the [interior] environment”, “l’homme reste l’élément central“, man remains the central element.1

With the exhibition Verner Panton – Colouring a New World, Trapholt, Kolding, undertake a search for the human in the colourful new world of Verner Panton.

Verner Panton - Colouring a New World, Trapholt, Kolding

In days of yore October was known in Germanic lands as Weinmonat, Wine Month, Month of Wine, whereby thoughts were, unquestionably, less with the drink as with the grape and the harvest, and thus the promise of the new wine.

And in many regards our exhibition recommendations can be considered a monthly harvest of the new crop of architecture and design exhibitions; specifically, and staying in Germanic registers, an Auslese, a considered selection of those well ripened concepts and premises it is hoped will most excite an invigorate the palate both experienced and novice. Or the viewer, experienced or novice.

Our quintet of, possible, new, memorable vintages from Weinmonat 2021 can be found in Ulm, Stockholm, ’s-Hertogenbosch, Paris and Tokyo…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for October 2021

In her 1929 essay A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf, as a component of her reflections on the myriad subjects of ‘women and fiction’, reads her way, chronologically, through a bookcase of works written by women from across the centuries.

Here We Are! Women in Design 1900 – Today at the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, has the feeling of Virginia Woolf’s bookcase, allowing as it does for reflections on, and a critical questioning of, the myriad subjects of ‘women and design’…….

Here We Are! Women in Design 1900 - Today, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein