We’ve spent so much time walking alongside canals on this #campustour we’ve started to feel less like dashing thoroughbreds and more like plodding, monotonous, if honest, loyal and sedulous barge ponies.
There are, as far as we are aware, no canals in Aachen, yet, and much like those city’s who owe their existence to canals, Aachen owes its existence, and name, to its waters: the thermal springs arising in the city meaning that since Roman times the peoples of the region, and from further afield, have visited to take the aquae, the waters, from which over High Middle German one arrives at Aachen.
We arrived at Aachen with a train from Cologne. But would the works on show at the FH Aachen summer exhibitions soothe our tired, aching sensibilities much as thermal springs soothe tired, aching muscles? And would it put that much missed spring back in our step………
Approaching the 2018 Universität der Künste Berlin Rundgang one was obliged to navigate the weekly antique and flea market that overwhelms the Straße des 17. Juni, and thereby walk, hurry, past untold objects whose ill consideration, self-celebration, kitschiness or plain ugliness confuse, insult, anger and otherwise offend the senses and sensibilities.
An inconvenience, or an omen for that which awaited us……….?
“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………
Our visit to the 2017 Royal College of Art London Graduate Show was one of the more sobering moments of our 2017 #campustour.
Or as we wrote then, “…in a world controlled by RCA graduates every, but every, aspect of our lives will be controlled by autonomous smart technology. We will literally lose the ability to think for ourselves. The human brain will become the appendix of the 21st century.”
Donning a hat fashioned from aluminium foil and an old metal sieve, we headed once more to South Kensington……
“Welcher Fehler braucht ein system?”, “Which errors/mistakes/imperfections does a system require?”, asked the Kunsthochschule Burg Giebichenstein Halle’s 2018 annual exhibition.
And used the question as a celebration of the power of trial and error, of the value, importance, poetry, of imperfections, abrasion, the incorrect, the unintended, the random, the well planned but ultimately unsuccessful, and how any otherwise well-organised, professional and targeted system needs a nuisance factor, needs a source of imperfection, chaos, resistance, experimentation, an aberration, to keep it fresh, exciting, relevant and vital.
Thanks guys, appreciate it…….
As Katie Melua informs us “There are nine million bicycles in Beijing. That’s a fact. It’s a thing we can’t deny”
But why chose to highlight Beijing’s nine million bicycles? Why not focus instead on a city such as Münster where there are a great many more bicycles than the paltry nine million Beijing has to offer? Maybe Katie wasn’t convinced people would believe her, wouldn’t be so willing to accept that that’s a fact. It’s a thing we can’t deny.
Which all has nothing in the slightest to do with the Akademie für Gestaltung Münster Finale 2018 graduation exhibition.
It just occurred to us as we crossed the city on our way to the Akademie.
On they way back to the train station we were too preoccupied with newer thoughts generated by the students’ graduation projects to worry about the streams of bicycles flowing through the streets or the post-industrial sculpture park into which Münster has been transformed by the ubiquitous bicycle parks/storage units.
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….
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…….
Kassel isn’t just birthplace of the Brothers Grimm but is also, in many regards, birthplace of the noble art of the Spaziergangswissenschaft, Strollology, a concept developed by Lucius Burckhardt during his tenure at Kassel University and which not only challenges conventional perceptions of the world around us, but for all encourages us to develop a differentiated understanding of how we perceive the world around us.
But would our stroll through the 2018 Kunsthochschule Kassel Rundgang challenge any of our established and institutionalised images? Would we see only that which custom, culture and convention programmes and preconditions us to see? Or would our eyes be opened to new understandings, a new consciousness….?
The 2018 Manchester Art School Degree Show was held under the title “Take Flight”
But, …. and you’re ahead of us, we know… how many of the projects would cause us to soar with delight. How many to flee in foreboding and terror……?
We’ve long considered it an absolute cheek that German high-speed ICE trains stop in Hildesheim. Nothing against Hildesheim, but when one considers other cities in Germany where ICEs don’t stop, or stop with an almost insulting (in)frequency, coupled to the closeness of Hildesheim to more major centres and their ICE hubs, it always seemed as if Hildesheim was being unfairly favoured by Deutsche Bahn.
That was until we wanted to visit the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst Hildesheim’s Summer Graduation Exhibition, then the ICE stop made perfect sense, was a clear and logical piece of planning, something civilised society couldn’t conceivably exist without…..
And the projects on show at the 2108 Hildesheim Summer Graduation Exhibition…….?
The Proclaimers may have rightly celebrated the virtues of the Sunshine on Leith, but on the day we visited the 2018 Degree Show at Edinburgh College of Art’s School of Design the city was very much in the grip of a North Sea haar which had drifted, unhelpfully, up the Firth of Forth.
Or was it perchance an omen?
Would that which greeted us in the exhibition be equally as nebulous, cold and opaque……..?
The building which Central Saint Martins calls home was erected in 1852 as store for grain arriving from Lincolnshire and awaiting its further distribution to London’s bakers.
Was, if you like, a transfer point, a hub, a location where general ideas became specific solutions, a place industry and trade called upon when needing raw materials for their latest project, a source for those whose work helped support and nourish the populace, a central institution in the development of the city and one, thereby, directly related to the immediate needs and interests of society.
We’re sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, somewhere, but where…….? Would a visit to the 2018 Central Saint Martins’ Degree Show help us locate it…….?
“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.
The Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Basel’s Institute Industrial Design is sited in the city’s Dreispitz district, a name derived from the district’s (roughly) triangular form, and a term which translates into English as “cocked hat”
But would the work of the Institute’s students see conventional ideas, wisdoms and understandings knocked into a Dreispitz…..
In October 2017 the Design Department of the Folkwang Universität der Künste Essen moved into its new home, the so-called Quartier Nord designed by Stuttgart based MGF Architekten.
The 2018 Folkwang Summer Rundgang therefore not only offered an opportunity to explore the work undertaken by institute’s students in the semester past, but also to explore their new home…….
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……
Our visit to the 2018 Glasgow School of Art Degree Show occurred before the recent fire, indeed this post was all planned to go, then came news of the fire … and it seemed appropriate to wait.
But not to archive it away altogether, for tragic and destructive as the fire unquestionably was, an art/design/architecture school is its staff and students and ideas and visions and understanding of the world. Not the bricks and mortar that surround it.
Even if those bricks and mortar were arranged by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
And so with reflections on what has been lost, but our eyes still firmly on the future…..
Lilla torg, the square in Malmö old town which the Form/Design Center calls home, traces its history back to Malmö’s hanseatic days, the former market of yore having evolved over the centuries to become one large open air food court, bordered as it is on all sides by restaurants, bars and coffee shops, which spill gregariously out into the ever narrowing square.
The functional, ordered, democratic supply of provisions, having become a self-satisfying celebration of the same.
What would Émile Zola say?
And would the projects on show at the Form/Design Center’s 2018 Vårutställning – Spring Exhibition – of student graduation projects help lighten his humour…..?
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.
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……..?
Anchored next to the Göta älv Bridge in Gothenburg is a decommissioned ferry. Repurposed as a car park.
While in no way a substitute for an integrated urban transport concept that reduces our dependence on the car, it is a really nice example that recycling, reusing and reappropriating isn’t just something for designers, is also a subject for architects and urban planners. And by extrapolation, us all.
Suitably motivated we scaled and crossed the Göta älv Bridge and made our way the 2018 HDK Gothenburg Degree Exhibition.
In his Ron Arad monograph Restless Furniture Deyan Sudjic notes that the Sticks & Stones furniture crusher Arad developed for the exhibition Nouvelles Tendances staged by the Centre de Creation Industriel Paris in 1987 was itself only saved from the crusher through the post-exhibition “intervention of a friendly Swiss furniture manufacturer.”1
While all Swiss furniture manufacturers are friendly, one particularly friendly Swiss furniture manufacturer springs to mind whenever the discussion turns to furniture design as being more than the shape of a chair, furniture design as a cultural imperative or the preservation of furniture design heritage.
As if confirmation were needed, the Sticks & Stones crusher greets visitors to the Vitra Design Museum Schaudepot exhibition Ron Arad: Yes to the Uncommon!
“…this is also a sure sign for the development of our style that we gradually succeed in bringing the practical back in line with the ideal. It seems to me, this could now also apply to many aspects of our common aspirations.”1 So wrote Peter Behrens in 1901 to the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Krefeld’s director Friedrich Deneken.
With the exhibition The Practical and the Ideal the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Krefeld explore not only how Peter Behrens’ understood such and how he attempted to achieve just that, but also the importance of both the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum and Friedrich Deneken in the development of Peter Behrens’ oeuvre. And in doing so offer new perspectives on the popularly understood Behrens’ biography.
Rely too heavily on popular representations of design from Denmark and one could come to the conclusion that Danes only started designing objects in the late 1940s, so often is one presented with Danish design books, exhibitions and newspaper/magazine/blog articles that begin, self-evidently, post-War.
With their exhibition Made in Denmark. Design since 1900, the Grassi Museum of Applied Arts Leipzig demonstrate that design in Denmark does have a pre-war, and pre-design, history.