Category: Architecture


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

We can’t remember exactly when we first came across Prague based creative collective Okolo, but certainly by the autumn of 2014 we were very much liking what they were doing: April 2014 seeing the exhibition Okolo Offline at Depot Basel and in September Okolo Offline Two – Collecting at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden, both of which in their own gentle ways guided the visitor into and through the Okolo world.

Keen to better understand that world we met up with Okolo co-founder Adam Štěch…..

Okolo Magazine Lausanne (Photo courtesy Okolo)

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a ticket for a design exhibition.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two tickets for two design exhibitions, and a ticket for a design exhibition.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…… You get the idea.

Our five goohoold rings for December 2017 are new architecture and design exhibitions in Winterthur, Barcelona, New York, Munich and Moscow.

5 New Design Exhibitions for December 2017

Whereas exhibitions featured in these pages are normally still in the first flush of youth, having recently enjoyed their vernissage and thus making their first public appearance, the presentation of Two German Architectures 1949-1989 at the Technische Universität Berlin is much more a finissage.

After a 13 year, 26 city, global tour, the exhibition has, in many regards, come home to retire.

Two German Architectures 1949 - 1989 @ the Technische Universität Berlin

The first metaphors may, or may not, have been animal based, but materials are just as adaptable. And few are as adaptable as glass. The Glass Ceiling as the impenetrable, yet invisible boundary. The Heart of Glass as a state of extreme emotional weakness. Yet when most people use glass as a metaphor they are using in itself as a metaphor, for transparency.

With the exhibition Welt aus Glas. Transparentes Design the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus Bremen abstract that metaphor to explore the link between transparency in design and architecture, and transparency in society.

Welt aus Glas. Transparentes Design at the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus Bremen

As any fule kno, an echo requires a surface off which to reflect.

Otherwise it is just shouting into the void.

With the exhibition Echoes – 100 Years in Finnish Design and Architecture at the Felleshus, Berlin, that reflective surface is the traditions, cultures and landscapes of north-east Europe.

Echoes - 100 Years in Finnish Design and Architecture @ Felleshus, The Nordic Embassies, Berlin

Back in the day one of the joys of reading the British Yellow Pages was the entry for Boring: “See Civil Engineers”*

Oh how we laughed! And still do!

Partly to counter such negative associations, partly to explain what Civil Engineers do, and partly to explain just how fundamentally that what Civil Engineers do has contributed to our contemporary society, and the multitude of possibilities available to us, whether we choose to take them or not, the Oskar von Miller Forum Munich is staging the exhibition Visionäre und Alltagshelden. Ingenieure – Bauen – Zukunft.

Visionäre und Alltagshelden. Ingenieure – Bauen – Zukunft @ the Oskar von Miller Forum Munich

Architects are always very keen to stress how they are working in the interests of society, for society. Often selflessly so.

Yet little polarises society quite like architecture.

And no architecture polarises quite like Brutalism.

Whereas in discourses on other architectural genres the middle ground is a place where those of moderate opinions can meet objectively and attempt to approach one another’s position: there are no Brutalism moderates.

With the exhibition SOS Brutalism – Save the Concrete Monsters, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt becomes that objective middle ground and thereby enables a very welcome discussion on Brutalism, its origins and its legacy.

SOS Brutalism - Save the Concrete Monsters at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt

Like gardens mottled with the vibrant leaves of autumn, so too is November 2017 bestrewn with a multicoloured carpet of new design and architecture exhibitions. We could have published three such lists, seriously considered it …. have however instead taken the opportunity to bring our monthly recommendations average up to where it should be. Five.

Back in August we only had four new recommendations, and so to compensate summer’s shortfall, here we present six, technically seven. Although it could have been 15.

Which all of course means you, dear reader, have no excuse for not visiting a new design or architecture exhibition, for wherever you may be, there is one opening near you. So get out there and start raking up those leaves exhibitions!!!

5 New Design Exhibitions for November 2017

“The problem of the construction of affordable housing for the lowest earning sections of the population is currently a primary concern in almost all civilized countries.”

Thus invited the Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne to their second congress, a three day event which opened on Thursday October 24th 1929 in the Palmengarten Frankfurt am Main, and which saw some of the leading protagonists of inter-war architecture discuss potential solutions for that most primary of concerns.

The success of the Frankfurt congress can perhaps be best summed up by the contemporary relevance of the invitation.

Furniture for Neue Frankfurt by Ferdinand Kramer, as seen at Germany versus France. The Struggle over Style 1900-1930, Bröhan Museum Berlin

“October is the month of painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight”

Before Henry David Thoreau’s twilight comes, our five painted leaves, flashing their rich glow round the world from Nürnberg, Lausanne, Hamburg, Eindhoven and Barcelona.

5 New Design Exhibitions for October 2017

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