Category: Designer


Inaugurated in 2016 state of Design Berlin is a festival which seeks to explore the experimental, critical, social character of design as much as present the industrial and commercial: and by extrapolation explain not only that design is all these things, but that the various aspects of design’s character needn’t be contradictory, far less conflicting or contrary.

The 2017 edition of state of Design Berlin opens on Thursday June 1st

state of design berlin 2017

’tis a curious thing time. It has accompanied our universe since the instant of its creation, has allowed for the development of our civil and social society, is the bedrock of our economic, industrial and commercial systems, guides us through every day, week, month, year, life.

Yet it is questionable if it actually exists.

And if it does exist. In what form? How can we visualise and document it? Does it have an inherent value?

Clues towards some possible answers are provided by the Designpreis Halle 2017 exhibition.

Designpreis Halle 2017. White

Dear Judge Tessin:

I will herewith express our delight to have Florence with us this summer. I am sure that it will be good for her to see a little more of the world. We are going to Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, and Holland. We will take good care of her.

Most sincerely yours,

Eliel Saarinen1

And take good care of Florence, Eliel Saarinen did: so much so that she advanced to become one of the most important protagonists in the development of post-war furniture, textile and interior design.

Hairpin Stacking Table by Florence Knoll for Knoll produced 1948-1966. Reintroduced by 2017

When we first viewed the exhibition Full House: Design by Stefan Diez at The Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne, it was was still being assembled. Objects were missing, set-ups not in their final composition, lights not yet properly positioned. As such we didn’t get to form an opinion on the final, complete, intended exhibition. Did however mange to take some truly awful photos.

Fortunately we have now had a second chance to view the exhibition.

And it is every bit as good as we assumed it would be from what we had seen.

Prototypes of the 404 collection by Stefan Diez for Thonet, as seen at Full House: Design by Stefan Diez, The Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne

With the exhibition Much More Than One Good Chair. Design & Society in Denmark, the Danish Embassy in Berlin present an exploration of the evolution of design in Denmark since 1945. And by extrapolation of the evolution of society in Denmark since 1945.

Much More Than One Good Chair @ Felleshus Berlin

There is one song missing from the smow blog playlist: missing for the simple, regrettable, and thoroughly avoidable, reason that it isn’t on spotify.

For din skyld by the Danish singer Birgit Brüel. Denmark’s entry for the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest. And featuring lyrics by Poul Henningsen.

Yes, that Poul Henningsen.

Poul Henningsen

On May 1st 1851 Queen Victoria opened The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park London: the first “World’s Fair”, an event which celebrated the advances of the industrial age, and whose influence on industry, engineering, science, architecture and society was to resonate globally for decades, acting as it did as the motor for the quickening technological advances of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. While the profit generated from the 6 million visitors allowed for the construction of London’s Science Museum, Natural History Museum and neighbouring Victoria and Albert Museum.

If any of the numerous architecture and design exhibitions opening globally in May 2017 will become quite so pivotal remains to be seen. Our top five can be found in Hamburg, Atlanta, Amsterdam, London and Stuttgart.

5 New Design Exhibitions for March 2017

The handicraft training in the Bauhaus workshops was not an end in itself, but an irreplaceable educational tool. The aim of this training was to create designers who, thanks to their precise knowledge of materials and processes, were able to influence the industrial production of our time.” Walter Gropius, 1955*

The tensions caused by the practical question of how this influence was to be expressed, and the parallels with the industrial production of our time, are explored in the exhibition Craft becomes Modern. The Bauhaus in the Making at Bauhaus Dessau.

Craft becomes Modern. The Bauhaus in the Making at Bauhaus Dessau

Backrests appeared to be a major feature of those new products Konstantin Grcic presented at Milan Furniture Fair 2017. Or perhaps better put, from those new product we saw by Konstantin Grcic, we interpreted the backrest as being central components. But it wasn’t all about backrests, a few thoughts on new products for Magis, Plank, Flos and Mattiazzi.

Noctambule by Konstantin Grcic for Flos, as seen at Milan Furniture Fair 2017

Much as we moan, moan, and moan about Milan Furniture Fair, it is a rare opportunity to get a snapshot of where individual designers are currently at: differing products for differing manufacturers being displayed in relatively proximity allowing for a nice overview. A few considerations on the latest projects by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra, Magis, Flos and Mattiazzi.

Verticale by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Flos, as seen at Milan Furniture Fair 2017

In our post The Sedentary Workers: Orchestra Musicians we explored the unique world of orchestra musicians’ chairs. One of Europe’s largest, and most experienced, manufacturers of orchestra and musicians’ chairs is Esslingen based Wilde+Spieth. Who thus seemed an ideal address to learn more about the orchestra chair and the orchestra chair market…..

Musicians Chair by Wilde+Spieth, based on the SE 68 by Egon Eiermann

As older readers will be well aware, little gets us down quite like Milan Furniture Fair. Every year our only wish as we cross the Alps is that we will find something to make us thankful that we did. Milan Furniture Fair 2017 produced more such moments than the average year, which we suppose means we’ll be back next year!!

Our Milan Furniture Fair 2017 High Five!!

Although the evidence is not, yet, conclusive, recent years have seen an increasing confidence in the theory that sitting for too long can have a negative impact on health, and that all whose job involves prolonged sitting should regularly stand, move and generally change their body position.

But what about those workers who can’t? What about those workers whose job is defined by long periods of sitting?

Orchestra musicians at work. Seated. Specifically, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Riccardo Muti at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, January 2017 (Photo © Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Elbphilharmonie Hamburg)

While it’s hard to feel anything even vaguely resembling joy in a month which sees the UK start its senseless and cowardly, withdrawal from the European Union … life goes on!!

Our five top distractions for April 2017 features new design and architecture exhibitions in Berlin, New York, Paris, Dessau and Milan.

Thingness. Noun. [ˈthiŋ-nəs] The quality or state of objective existence or reality1

Thingness. Exhibition. [ˈthiŋ-nəs] A comprehensive Jasper Morrison retrospective currently on show at the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin.

Jasper Morrison. Thingness @ Bauhaus Archiv Berlin

It may lack the Unicorn Horn that graced so many Renaissance era Cabinets of Curiosities, but with The Room of Desires Keum Art Projects present a collection of objects with just as much beauty, mystery and grace as could be found in the Wunderkammer. And yet which are grounded much more in reality.

The Room of Desires @ Raumwerk Munich

The exhibition Divine Golden Ingenious. The Golden Ratio as a Theory of Everything? at the Museum for Communication Berlin featured two projects by Berlin based designer Mark Braun, projects which, largely, if not exclusively, owe their form to deliberations on and experimentation with the Fibonacci number. A state of affairs, we considered, makes Mark Braun an ideal person with whom to speak to about the role, attraction and relevance of the Fibonacci number and Golden Ratio in product design.

And so ahead of the exhibition’s opening at the Museum for Communication Frankfurt, we did just that…..

Les Trois by Mark Braun

The Bayerischer Staatspreis für Nachwuchsdesigner is one of the more interesting international design prizes. Not only because it is biennial and thus steadfastly refuses to play with the “every year new” ethos of the contemporary design industry, nor only because it is exclusively for young designers, but also because in addition to the “usual” categories it also recognises Design Research and Applied Crafts. And thus promotes a pleasingly healthy and positive understanding of the term “Design”

The winners of the 2016 Bayerischer Staatspreis were announced on Monday March 6th at an awards ceremony in Munich.

Merhaba by Susanne Honsa – Winner Applied Crafts, as seen at Bayerischer Staatspreis für Nachwuchsdesigner 2016 exhibition, Munich

For George Orwell nothing heralded spring quite like the re-appearance of toads, emerging from their subterranean hibernation and setting off, once again, on life’s great cycle.

Our toads are the flurry of new design and architecture exhibitions which open globally every March, as the international museum and gallery community awake from their winter slumber.

Our highlights for March 2017, featuring new exhibitions in Bielefeld, Helsinki, Weil am Rhein, Utrecht and Paris

5 New Design Exhibitions for March 2017

The German designer and silversmith Christian Dell is arguably best known for the numerous lighting designs he realised during the 1920s and 1930s.

Christian Dell was however also one of the pioneers of plastic design. If all too briefly.

Christian Dell (1893 - 1974)

Ambiente Frankfurt 2017 allowed an all to seldom reunião with Portuguese brand Vicara. And an occasion which served to remind us that we really should catch up with them more often…..

Vicara at Ambiente Frankfurt 2017

Amongst all the fake flavours at Ambiente Frankfurt 2017 the Umami of Japanese design studio Bouillon was a genuine delight.

“Have you ever met a robot?” asks the Vitra Design Museum.

The answer is yes.

The answers to the other 13 questions posed by the exhibition Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine are not necessarily so easily answered: but are important for defining our relationship with digital technology.

Vitra Design Museum presents Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine

Our picks from the new architecture and design exhibitions opening in February 2017, featuring showcases in Weil am Rhein, Falkenberg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Berlin and Groningen.

five new design exhibitions february 2017

As a fair IMM Cologne 2017 didn’t impress, but one or the other product did. Our IMM Cologne 2017 High Five!! And a few words of comfort from Epictetus.

IMM Cologne