Category: Architecture


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

“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