Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be smow if it followed the rules and did that which you’d expected it to.
Thus it should have come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that the inaugural Grassimesse smow-Designpreis produced not the expected one, but two, joint, co-winners: Budapest based designer Annabella Hevesi and her studio Line and Round I O and Nürnberg based glassmaker Cornelius Réer…….
While in many regards being selected to participate at the Grassimesse can be considered an accolade in itself, the event also awards a number of prizes: some specific, others general, all well worth winning.
Ahead of the opening of the 2023 edition the winners of the seven Grassi Prizes were announced on Thursday evening in the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Leipzig.
Selected by the 2023 Grassmesse jury from the 80+ exhibitors, the victorious seven are…….
“Something is happening to the way people live” opined Nanna Ditzel in 1961; changing realities which caused her to reflect that, in terms of our furniture and interiors, “don’t we carry around a whole load of stuff that is old and defunct – and could actually be different.”1
With the exhibition Nanna Ditzel. Taking Design to New Heights, Trapholt, Kolding, explore how Nanna Ditzel approached and understood and realised that “different”…….
For all that the annual Leipzig Grassimesse is and always has been as a sales fair, a place to peruse, discourse with and purchase, contemporary craft, applied art and design, and thereby an opportunity to support contemporary craft, applied art and design practitioners, or perhaps more accurately an opportunity to support those practitioners whose practice you most enjoy, it has also always been a platform for creative schools and their students to present their works and approaches and positions; the inaugural Grassimesse in 1920 featuring students from the Staatliche Kunstschule für Textilindustrie Plauen, the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, the Kunstgewerbeschule Magdeburg, the Kunstgewerbeschule Nürnberg and the Handwerker- und Kunstgewerbeschule Halle, the latter an institution who in their various guises since 1920 have been more or less ever presents at the Grassimesse.
And will be present at the 2023 Grassimesse where, as Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule, Halle, they will present current projects alongside students from the Kunsthochschule Weißensee Berlin, the Universität der Künste Berlin, HAWK Hildesheim, the Hochschule Wismar, the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart and the Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School, Florence.
Yet for all that schools have always been a pillar on which the Grassimesse stands, they are one that can be all too easily overlooked amidst the perusing, discoursing and purchasing. Thus ahead of the 2023 edition by way of helping reinforce that the Grassimesse is more than the selected exhibitors and their works, we thought we’d take a brief moment to reflect on some of those schools who’ve graced the halls of the Grassi Museum, and thereby allow for reflections on both the (hi)story of creative education and also on the Grassimesse as a platform for schools and a coming generation of creatives as much as one for those creatives currently practising…….
Established in Budapest in 2004 by textile designer Szilvia Szigeti and her interior designer husband Tamás Radnóti, Design Without Borders understands itself, and summarising to the point of inaccuracy, as a platform for international design dialogue across, or perhaps more accurately indifferent to, not only national borders but borders of genre, scale, approach, position et al.
By way of preparing for the platform’s forthcoming 20th birthday a showcase of projects presented, hosted, by Design Without Borders over the past two decades is being staged in context of Vienna Design Week 2023.
A presentation that allows some insights into the aforementioned understandings of itself, and also access to some reflections on the realities of contemporary design in Europe…….
It’s been a while, and we were beginning to think it would never happen again; however, after an inordinately long absence September 2023 sees us once again meet up with Vienna Design Week…….
In the alpine regions of Europe the arrival of September marks the start of the Almabtrieb, that annual migration of the cattle, sheep and goats of the region from their high pastures to the valleys far, far below.
A migration undertaken because, as the cattle, sheep and goats of the alps innately understand, September is the month when the global architecture and design museum community (slowly) end their summer siesta and begin to invite us all to peruse their autumn/winter exhibition programmes.
And a migration that looks particularly worthwhile in September 2023, being as it is abloom with a crop of new showcases every bit as enticing and flavoursome as the herb rich pastures of any alpine alm. Indeed so bountiful is the September 2023 harvest we could have written two lists. For probity’s sake we stick with the one.
Our five reasons for saying Servus, Tschüs and Adieu to the fresh air and green, green, grass of the high alps and venturing into the city can be found in Frankfurt, New York, Kolding, Vienna and Malmö…….
We’re not saying that Capellagården is the best design school in the world.
But would say it is, without question, one of the most delightful and most engaging and most relaxing to visit, one of the best to visit.
A genuine joy that was denied us during the Covid years.
But one we weren’t going to give up on.
In summer 2023 the stars aligned and we ventured once again over the seas to Öland…….
The popular Bauhaus focus, preoccupation, of discussions on creativity in the 1920s very naturally leads to us all ignoring other important protagonists, causes us all, when oft unwittingly, to miss other equally valid, and enjoyable, paths to appreciations of developments in craft, design, technology and our objects of daily use in the early decades of the 20th century, that important, and still very relevant, period where handwork increasingly ceded to industry.
With Haël. Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein and her workshops for decorative ceramics 1923-1934 the Bröhan Museum, Berlin, helps one locate, and begin to explore, one of those regularly overlooked paths and thereby allows one to begin to develop those more probable appreciations…….
A Confoederatio; A Range; A Context
Arising in the early 1950s from a collective, a community, who had been ardently opposed to the NSDAP, their world view and their warmongering dictatorship, the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm understood itself very much in context of the post-War re-development of society, the post-War development of a new democratic, future-resilient, society. In West Germany and further afield.
Thus it is little wonder that synthetic plastics, that material class which post-War offered, embodied, (seductively, unscrupulously) foretold, the promise of a borderless democracy, an egalitarian global society, should have been a material of experimentation and utilisation at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm.
With Plastic Material − Magic Material: Freedom and Limits of Design the HfG-Archiv, Ulm, reflect on synthetic plastics in context of the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm. And also in context of society and democracy…….
As in August 2022!!
And once again, not us, we’re here, we’re busy, we’re keen, we’re chomping at the bit; but the international architecture and design museum community have very clearly decided amongst themselves not to open new exhibitions in August. Whereby, yes, August always was a slow month for new openings but that in August 2022 and August 2023 we should find but one new showcase is a signal of something more than a coincidence.
And, as with August 2022, one exhibition is clearly not a list.
Thus in place of a list of new exhibitions, we offer here two geographically arranged lists of those architecture and design exhibitions on show in August 2023 and which you can, should, must, visit.
Whereby, and as ever, the list is in no way exhaustive, we have without question missed interesting and informative showcases, so please check local press for what is happening wherever you happen to be…….
As we were preparing for our trip to Halle and the 2023 Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Jahresausstellung one of those people on the edge of the smow Blog, one of those people who are so important to its operation, asked us how many summer exhibitions we’d seen at Burg Halle.
A question that caused a terror to develop within us as the enormity of the number forming before our eyes became ever more distinct and discernable; but then, before we gave vocal form to such an improbable, hair-raising, number, we regained our composure, “None”, we replied, “for similar as each summer exhibition may be, it’s always a virgin experience”.
Eyes were conspicuously rolled as our questioner walked away, and as we set off for Halle…….
As we noted, almost exactly 12 months ago, although we here at smow Blog are more or less fully up and running again after the Covid enforced disruption, the extremely complex nature of the smow Blog machinery means that there are still a few elements of the whole that are awaiting a proper re-boot, including, as we noted almost exactly 12 months ago, our famed, and falafel fixated, annual #campustour through European design school summer exhibitions.
Which doesn’t mean that we aren’t visiting design school summer exhibitions. We very much are. Nor does it mean we aren’t eating falafel. We very much are. Just means we’re doing so in a much less structured, less coherent, manner. And means that we don’t always have the time and space to post from those showcases we visit. But do always try. Last year, admittedly, our attempts didn’t get much beyond Weimar. And (nominally) Brussels. Although we were at a great many more.
This year we’re hoping for a much improved number of postings, starting in Hamburg and the Hochschule für Bildende Künste’s 2023 Graduate Show, Unfinished Business…….
Of all the novel technological developments of the past century or so, or more specifically those novel developments in context of mobility, arguably, none have approached the human species’ imagination, spoken to the human species’ fantasies nor so tantalisingly promised that limitless future we all innately know is possible, to quite the degree of the airship; arguably a form of transport that today, all those decades after reaching its zenith as a commercial enterprise, still has an appeal, a fascination, beyond that of the rocket, the plane or even the train.
And a development facilitated to a large degree by aluminium, a, then, still relatively novel material.
A still relatively novel material whose advantages were quickly understood and readily exploited; but whose problems and consequences were, in the golden age of the airship, unknown. Unknowable at that period. But which today are very well documented. And tangible.
With the exhibition Into the Deep. Mines of the Future the Zeppelin Museum, Friedrichshafen, employ the aluminium of the earliest airships as a conduit for discussions on future society’s raw materials, and for all for a discussion on the sources and extraction of those materials…….
In July 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and as Neil Armstrong stepped from the Eagle lunar module he announced it was, “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”.
And inarguably it was. And was.
But what has it brought mankind?
Apart from an awful lot of conspiracy theories. And an ongoing fascination with space that drives the irrational belief that in the 21st century we urgently require everything which appeared in 1950s and 1960s science fiction comics and films in order to have happy, functioning societies.
Yes, it also brought us Gil Scott-Heron’s, ever glorious, and still very relevant, Whitey on the Moon; a work that through it’s continuing, unabated, undiluted, relevance reminds us all how little Apollo 11 has brought mankind.
Other small steps can, we’d argue, be much more meaningful. Can enable longer leaps in more meaningful directions.
Such as the small step into an architecture or design museum; a step that can, will, inform and entertain, can, will, allow fresh insights and perspectives, can, will, cause a questioning and reflection: and thereby, potentially, enable the development of differentiated thoughts and appreciations on the now and on that now still to come. And perhaps in doing so quell a few conspiracy theories. And so allow for the development of a future worthy of the name.
Our five featured short steps for July 2023 can be taken in Stuttgart, New York, Hornu, London and Berlin…….