Category: Architecture


“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

In September 1951 the East German newspaper Neue Zeit informed its readers that, “whomever travels to Fürstenberg sees the beginnings of the new city, a city planned according to the “Principles of Urban Development”.1

Whomever travels to Fürstenberg today arrives in Eisenhüttenstadt, the planned city that arose from those “beginnings”; and a city which, arguably, more than any other, stands proxy for the rise and fall of East Germany.

With the exhibition Endless Beginning. The Transformation of the Socialist City, the Museum Utopie und Alltag explore not only the past, present and future of Eisenhüttenstadt, but also employs Eisenhüttenstadt as a conduit for more general reflections on urban planning and the ongoing, inevitable, intrinsic, transformation(s) of our cities. Socialist or otherwise……

Downtown Eisenhüttenstadt largely in Plaspi and..... Sugar, as seen in Endless Beginning. The Transformation of the Socialist City, Museum Utopie und Alltag, Eisenhüttenstadt

According to the 6th century CE antiquarian John the Lydian, “the oracle recommends drinking milk for the sake of good health all through the month of September”.1

And while milk may have advantages in terms of your physical health, for your spiritual and intellectual health, we’d recommend the following quintet of new architecture, design and art exhibitions opening in September 2021.

Whereby, exhibitions and milk aren’t mutually exclusive, you can partake of both if you so wish……

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for September 2021

Globally some 2 billion of us live in a city of more than 500,000 inhabitants.1

A number that is progressively growing.

But what does “city” mean?

Not lexicographically, but physically, culturally, socially, politically, economically, morally, etc, etc, etc?

With the exhibition Die Stadt. Between Skyline and Latrine the smac – Staatliches Museum für Archäologie Chemnitz attempt to approach possible answers……

A model of Archigram’s 1964 Walking City as part of a discussion on literary and architectural ideal cities, as seen as, Die Stadt Between Skyline and Latrine, smac - Staatliches Museum für Archäologie Chemnitz

“We must endeavour to introduce a little order into this business, or at least sense into a great deal of it. But what is sense without order? We must try to find some method of arriving at some sort of order – one that will at least enable us to escape from this vagueness in the design of colour”, opined Amédée Ozenfant in 1937.1

And had an idea or two as to the how…….

Not directly associated with Amédée Ozenfant, but being as it is the house next door to the house/studio designed by Le Corbusier for Amédée Ozenfant in Paris in 1922 (the one on the right-hand side), is a nice metaphor of the dearth of images of Amédée Ozenfant and/or his work available: it's the next best thing. Also because it very neatly mirrors Amédée Ozenfant's 1937 views on ivy and Virginia creeper....... (photo by Mbzt via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY 3.0)

We published our first exhibition recommendations list in November 2013, and have diligently, and joyfully, ended every month since with a list of five architecture and design related exhibitions opening in the coming month that appear worthy of a recommendation.

A tradition we very much planned to continue in July 2021 for August 2021.

And would have; however, having undertaken our regular tour through our database of international museums and galleries, we can find but two exhibitions opening in August 2021 we, in all good conscience, can recommend. And while we don’t always stick religiously to the 5 in months of scarcity, 2 is… 2 few. And so we’ll find another way to integrate them into the blog.

August is always slow for new exhibitions, primarily because, and certainly in the USA and Europe, everyone is on holiday; however, we get the feeling that August 2021’s paucity is related to the realities of the past few months.

Any exhibition is the result of years of planning, years of planning that never feels quite long enough, and events such as a Covid pandemic that eats into that limited time have a very real effect on the preparation and realisation of exhibitions; meaning that all museums have been forced to reschedule their programmes, a rescheduling that in addition to a great many, and regrettable, cancellations has seen many museums extend the runs of those exhibitions that are open until the accrued losses in time can be made good.

And which, we very much get the feeling, means many museums are waiting for autumn 2021 (northern hemisphere)/spring 2021 (southern hemisphere) to launch new exhibitions, to re-set their programmes and planning schedules. Which means that for September 2021 and October 2021 we may very well get two lists for each month. All going to plan.

But means for August 2021, rather than 5 new openings… 32 architecture and design exhibitions already running that are, or certainly appear to be, worthy of a recommendation.

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……

32 new-ish Architecture & Design Exhibitions for August 2021

As the worldline of architecture’s spacetime continuum moves through the 1970s and ever further into the 1980s it becomes increasingly blurry, indistinct, harder to confidently follow: established conventions and systems, acknowledged fundamental and/or necessary rules of architecture become increasingly difficult to locate.

Indeed were there rules in 1980s architecture?

With the exhibition Anything Goes? Berlin Architecture in the 1980s the Berlinische Galerie explore the architectural developments in the, then, two Berlins, and in doing so not only allow one to approach better understandings of the architectural development of the, now, one Berlin, but also to question the putative lawless of 1980s architecture…….

Anything Goes? Berlin Architecture in the 1980s, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

We go in withering July,
To ply the hard incessant hoe;
Panting beneath the brazen sky,
We sweat and grumble, but we go…..1

…..alternatively, skip the panting, sweating and grumbling with a visit to an air-conditioned museum.

Our recommendations for escaping the brazen sky of withering July 2021 can be found in Munich, Aalborg, Eisenhüttenstadt, Wrocław and Karlsruhe.

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 July 2021

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it is always June”, ponders Anne Shirley in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1915 novel Anne of the Island.

“You’d get tired of it”, sighs her adoptive mother Marilla Cuthbert by way of reply.

“I daresay”, responds Anne, “but just now I feel that it would take me a long time to get tired of it…”

Thoughts we very much concur with as we survey and contemplate the varied profusion of new architecture and design exhibitions sprouting forth in June 2021. Who could ever tire of such a joyous abundance? Who?

Our five recommendations from that early summer crop can be found in Leipzig, Hornu, Berlin, Bloomfield Hills and Chemnitz…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for June 2021