Category: Designer


As Letitia Elizabeth Landon so very, very, nearly wrote in 1823,

Of all the months that fill the year
Give April’s month to me,
For the architecture and design museums are then so filled,
With sweet variety!

Our sweet variety in April’s month of 2024 can be found in Dessau, Brussels, Rome, Paris and Dresden…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for April 2024

As we all know from the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed from one form to another.

And as a species we’ve developed a myriad ways of transforming one form of energy to another.

We burn oil.

We burn coal.

We burn gas.

We burn wood.

We burn an awful lot, don’t we…..

But we also employ, for example, the kinetic energy of wind, waves and photons or the potential energy of Uranium atoms.

With Transform! Designing the Future of Energy the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, focus less on the physical and chemical transformations of energy, as on transformations in how we source, supply and use energy…….

Transform! Designing the Future of Energy, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein

“To meet the needs of a living architecture,” opined Otti Berger in 1930, “we need clarity about what fabric is, and further, what fabric in space is”.1

With the showcase Otti Berger. Weaving for Modernist Architecture the Temporary Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin, allow one to begin to approach appreciations of what both Otti Berger understood as fabric, “and further, what fabric in space is”, and in doing so not only enable differentiated perspectives on Weaving and Modernist Architecture but allow Otti Berger to begin to retake her place on the helix of design, and architecture, (hi)story……

Otti Berger. Weaving for Modernist Architecture, Temporary Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin

It would inarguably, and inexcusably, be little more than employing a lazy, cheap, unwarrantable, stereotype and innuendo to opine that Hamburg is an apposite location for an exhibition exploring and discussing human societies’ relationships with water, being as it is a city where the incessant, clinging drizzle is only interrupted by the regular torrential downpours; rather, Hamburg is an apposite location for an exhibition exploring and discussing human societies’ relationships with water, as it is a city where the incessant, clinging drizzle is only interrupted by the regular torrential downpours. And because not only the fortunes and stature of the city were built on water, for all in the distant days of the fabled Hanseatic League, and of the pirates who cooperated with the city’s Hanseatic era leaders in their desires to assert Hamburg’s primacy on the Elbe1, but also Hamburg is physically built on, and for all physically built in, water. Which means that not only the streets and canals and banks – river and financial – of Hamburg offer access to perspectives on and of our relationships with water past and present, but that our relationships with water future will, invariably, be expressed through, and embodied by, Hamburg’s future. Or lack thereof.

With Water Pressure. Designing for the Future the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, not only create space for that exploration of and discussion on human societies’ relationships with water, but also for reflections on the roles, functions and responsibilities of design, and designers, in context of forming and defining our relationships with water past, present and future…….

Water Pressure. Designing for the Future, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg

There is a convincing argument to be made that in our contemporary age perfection is one of our primary aims, one of our guiding aims, individually and collectively. A convincing argument to be made that perfection is, to paraphrase a Shane MacGowan, ‘the measure of our dreams’. And there are no shortage of experts out there to tell us all how to achieve that perfection, in all areas of life and work and love and home and hobby.

With Perfectly Imperfect – Flaws, Blemishes and Defects the Gewerbemuseum Winterthur question perfection, and society’s fascination with perfection…….

Perfectly Imperfect. Flaws Blemishes and Defects, Gewerbemuseum Winterthur

In the popular narrative of architecture and design in the second half of the 20th century the phrase ‘Postmodern’ is widely used; a wide use, and an equally wide, unquestioning, popular acceptance of what is meant, that all too often not only blinds us all to the heterogeneity of the period but also impedes meaningful debate and discussion on the motivations, positions and realities of that period. And on the lessons of the period.

With Bold and Beautiful. Estonian private houses from the 1980s the Eesti Arhitektuurimuuseum, Tallinn, remind of the need for more nuanced, and wider-ranging, reflections and discussions…….

Bold and Beautiful. Estonian private houses from the 1980s, Eesti Arhitektuurimuuseum, Tallinn

In Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale Perdita bewails that she has no “flowers o’ th’ spring” to make garlands for, and to strew over, her beloved Florizel; “flowers o’ th’ spring” including violets, primroses, oxlips or “daffodils, That come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty”.

Whereby in her infatuation with, and fearless youthful love for, Florizel, Perdita fails to appreciate that it wasn’t fear of the winds of March that kept the swallows away, swallows love a stiff wind; rather that they are all in architecture and design museums enjoying the new blush of exhibitions that invariably blooms forth every March. As should she and Florizel, for the shared experience of an architecture and design exhibition is a more sustainable and resilient conduit to maintaining the thrill of young love than a violet, primrose, oxlip or daffodil that will soon wilt and fade.

Our six, yes six, ‘exhibitions o’ th’ spring’ opening in March 2024 for swallows, lovers, Elizabethans, and us all, can be found in Hamburg, Vienna, New York, London, Paris and Weil am Rhein……

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for March 2024

As Europe begins to ardently shake of the last remnants of winter and the first green and blue and yellow and white specks appear in parks and gardens, as the chance that summer might just arrive becomes tangible…. October can seem a mighty long way away. Unimaginable. But it is approaching.

As is the 2024 Grassimesse.

The path thereto has been laid and until Wednesday May 15th are all called upon to apply…….

Grassimesse 2024

“When architecture is born, a place is born” opined Japanese architect Tsuyoshi Tane in 2018, continuing, “humans began to understand that by building architecture, a meaning is given to a place, and then that place has a story that can be passed on to others”.

But for Tane architecture doesn’t just bequeath a place meaning and a story, it also “gives memories to a place”, memories of the past and memories of the future, collective memories that help create bonds. But memories that are increasingly being lost in our complex, high-tempo, contemporary society, with all the inevitable consequences that has for an architecture that must grow organically from itself in unison with society; architecture and society which both need the memories of the past and the memories of future.

Thus, argues Tane, “to create the architecture of a more meaningful further future, perhaps we must … dive in to the past to think of the future, rather than only looking forward”.1

The exhibition Tsuyoshi Tane: The Garden House in the Vitra Design Museum Gallery, and the eponymous Garden House by Tsuyoshi Tane, the latest addition to the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, allow one to approach not only a better appreciation of Tane’s positions but also to experience how they influence and inform his approach, his works, his architecture…….

Tsuyoshi Tane: The Garden House, Vitra Design Museum Gallery, Weil am Rhein

As noted from the exhibition Der ungesehene Designklassiker at the Deutsches Stuhlbaumuseum, Rabenau, alongside the introduction, re-introduction, enabled to the EW 1192 by Horst Heyder, a work that was, in all probability, the most widely found, most widely used, chair in the DDR and, potentially, one of the chairs existent in the greatest population densities anywhere ever, and thus a chair that inarguably shouldn’t need to be re-introduced, but which on account of the nature of the development of Europe since 1989 sadly does, one also finds a contemporary 21st century re-design of the EW 1192 by Leipzig based designer Jacob Strobel.

A re-design that poses the question darf one re-design a work such as the EW 1192?, is one allowed to re-design a work such as the EW 1192?

¿Is one allowed to re-design a work that was one of the most widely found, most widely used, chairs in the (hi)story of a nation?

¿Is one allowed to re-design a work that so eloquently and succinctly allows access to more nuanced appreciations of the (hi)story of furniture design in the DDR?

¿Is one allowed to re-design a work that is one of the few surviving testaments to the work of Horst Heyder, an individual who played an important role in the development of furniture design in the DDR?

¿Is one allowed to re-design a work that is one of the few surviving testaments to the work of the Entwicklungsbüro Waldheim, an institution who played an important role in the development of furniture design in the DDR?

¿Is one allowed to re-design a work that is an artefact of daily life in the DDR, in a nation no longer existent?

¿Darfst du?

???

Standing in the Deutsches Stuhlbaumuseum looking at that contemporary re-design it occurred to us that there was one person particularly well placed to answer that question, one person who’d already considered it in a lot more detail than us. So we we asked them: ¿Is one allowed to re-design a work such as the EW 1192, Jacob Strobel?

¿Darfst du?

The EW 1192 by Horst Heyder (l) and the EW 1192 Horst by Jacob Strobel (r), as seen at Der ungesehene Designklassiker, Deutsches Stuhlbaumuseum, Rabenau

Basketry has something of the archaic about it, almost anachronistic, has echoes of a past we’ve all long moved on from.

With the exhibition All Hands On: Basketry the Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Berlin allow for, demand, a critical reassessment…….

All Hands On: Basketry, Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Berlin

Edition 33 as seen at Passagen Interior Design Week Cologne 2024

Arguably little characterises contemporary society, certainly contemporary European society, better than our relationship with sleep.

And, arguably, little charts the path of human society, again certainly European society, better than the (hi)story of our relationship with sleep.

With the exhibition Uneversum: Rhythms and Spaces the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, Tallinn, explore and reflect upon sleep, spaces of sleep, rhythms of sleep, and for all on our relationships with sleep past, present and future…….

Uneversum: Rhythms and Spaces, Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, Tallinn

For all that as a species we like to think that we are in control of the wider universe, like to think that our mastery of physics and mathematics has put us in charge, little underscores the fallacy of that position as neatly as the Gregorian calendar, an apparently flawless invention, one that defines our lives, where everything sits so snugly…. until every four years we have to add an extra day to stop it all going haywire. Unless that is the year is exactly divisible by 100, but not by 400, then it isn’t a leap year. The Gregorian calendar doesn’t really work, it is a rough approximation, has an inherent inaccuracy we’re aware of, we understand…… but don’t know how to fix beyond pretending its all normal and adding an extra day every four years. Or not, if its 1800, 1900, or 2100.

Other animals don’t need an extra day every four years, their worlds’ progress in keeping with the seasons. Plants don’t need an extra day. Why do humans?

The inaccuracy of the Gregorian calendar does however mean we all have an extra day in 2024 to do something meaningful, something truly worthwhile…. like visit an architecture and/or design exhibition.

Our suggestions for those meaningful, worthwhile exploits for the 29 days of February 2024, and beyond, takes us to Leipzig, Malmö, Katowice, Oslo and Jyväskylä…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for February 2024

Imagine you were one of the best selling and most widely used chairs in your country. But (hi)story had forgotten you.

Imagine you were informative in context of elucidating important, but rarely illuminated, chapters in the (hi)story of furniture design. But (hi)story had forgotten you.

Imagine you were instructive in context of the practice and craft and industry of furniture design. But (hi)story had forgotten you.

Imagine you were in use in a great many locations. But no-one saw you. No-one knew your name. Just sat on you.

Imagine you were the EW 1192 by Horst Heyder.

With Der ungesehene Designklassiker the Deutsches Stuhlbaumuseum, Rabenau, not only enable one to imagine, but for all begin to redress the situation……

Der ungesehene Designklassiker, Deutsches Stuhlbaumuseum, Rabenau

Born in Coburg, Franken, in 1961 Cornelius Réer took his first steps in the world of glass via an apprenticeship at Glashütte Süßmuth, Immenhausen, near Kassel, followed by periods working in Austria and Sweden and a nine month course at Brierley Hill Glass Center in Dudley, England, before returning to Franken and establishing his own studio in Fürth in 1992. If a return to Franken punctuated by long absences: the next 11 years seeing Cornelius lead an, essentially, nomadic life, travelling Europe and realising his collections in numerous glass studios and presenting/selling them at trade fairs such as Ambiente Frankfurt. Collections whose focus is very much serial production, not the one-offs so often associated with glass; rather serially reproducible forms, albeit series which on account of their artisanal production, Cornelius creating each individual piece himself, means that every object is unique.

In 2003 Cornelius’s nomadicity ended, at least professionally, with a return, full-time, to Fürth, before in 2008 moving his studio down the road Nürnberg, where today he creates series such as, and amongst many others, the Crunch glass collection, one of his longest running series, and, in many regards, his breakthrough series; the InsideOut range, a family of objects composed of a variety of forms that can exist individually or as collective; or the LUMEN2 lantern, Cornelius’s re-imagining and re-working of a late 1950s lantern design by Egon Eiermann. Works defined, and at the risk of summarising more than is prudent, by their colour, by their interplay with light, by their material efficiency and by a functionality that is often simultaneously as playful as it is utilitarian, and as physical as it is immaterial.

And works which since 2023 have also been defined by rising gas prices: a glass studio is dependent on a lot of ovens, a lot of very hot ovens, ovens you can’t turn off, and thus the gas price rises of 2023 saw Cornelius switch from wooden moulds to steel moulds, an alternative production process that not only reduces the energy demand of the production process, but very much defines the character of works such as, for example, the Pool beakers and carafes, or the O.V.A. and MODUL vases. Works that, on account of their genesis in Cornelius’s response to the challenges of rising gas prices, are as much the result of design thinking as of craft thinking, and works which saw Cornelius Réer co-awarded the inaugural smow-Designpreis at Grassimesse 2023 alongside Budapest based design studio Line and Round, I O.

Alongside his own collections Cornelius is also co-author with Laura Jungmann of the project/brand SameSame, a project that began as a component of Laura’s Diploma thesis at the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, but which has since become autonomous; a project in which industrial glass objects, primarily, wine, beer and water bottles, are upcycled by Cornelius into craft objects that belie their industrial background, and which sees the intended re-use via recycling replaced with re-use via an infinite lifecycle. And just one of several cooperations undertaken over the years by Cornelius with students and professional product designers.

Following his success in Leipzig we met up with Cornelius in his studio in Nürnberg to discuss his work, his approaches, the realities of life as independent glassmaker and glass as a material, but we began asking why glass, why the decision for the glassmakers profession…….

Cornelius Réer at work in his Nürnberg studio (Photo courtesy and © Cornelius Réer)

The Augenwohl felt lamp by Dorothee Becker for Design M from the early 1970s, as seen at Dorothee Becker – aus dem persönlichen Nachlass, Passagen Interior Design Week Cologne 2024

“Projektowanie i realizacja form powłokowych jest problemem złożony”, opined the Polish architect Witold Lipiński in 1978, “design and implementation of shell structures is a complex problem”. And it certainly is. For all a complex mathematical problem, and that of a degree that, for Lipiński, for all when combined with the associated technical challenges, “greatly limit[s] plastic ingenuity”, meaning as it did that architects were invariably restricted to forms “mathematically defined in a straightforward manner”, which employed but “the simplest elements of translational and rotational surfaces” and “supports of the least complexity”.

“Nevertheless”, he continued, unperturbed, “by juxtaposing sections of these surfaces and variously shaping the supports, a considerable number of architecture forms are obtained”.1

With the showcase Shape of Dreams. The Architecture of Witold Lipiński the Muzeum Architektury, Wrocław, allow one to appreciate how Witold Lipiński used his appreciations of, his application of, his approach to, his juxtapositions of, geometry to propose new spatial possibilities. And to push the borders of “plastic ingenuity”…….

Shape of Dreams. The Architecture of Witold Lipiński, Muzeum Architektury, Wrocław

Beetlechair by Alexander von Dombois, as seen at Passagen Interior Design Week Cologne 2024

Chemical Connection by Karoline Fesser (in cooperation with Karl Weber), as seen at Siebter Himmel, Passagen Interior Design Week 2024

Since 1990 the annual IMM Cologne furniture fair has been accompanied by the Passagen Interior Design Week. A design week, a design festival, that, and although it is often a bit overly commercial for our tastes, also always features a nice mix of emerging and establishing designers, small platforms, design schools, and others removed from the more predictable, superficial, profit-orientated corners of the furniture and design industries. A mix of creatives who help remind what design, what furniture design, is and can be. Should be. A mix of creatives not necessarily all good, that would be too much to expect, but who as a general rule are all well worth spending time with. An international mix of creatives if, more often than not, with a strong focus on Cologne, Düsseldorf and the general Rhein and Ruhr valleys. Which is in no way a complaint, it is after all their local event.

And a design week that over a great many years, along with IMM Cologne, marked the start of our year, was a permanent, unyielding, date in our calenders. Trips to the Rhein which over the years have produced innumerable abiding memories, both fondly recalled and much, much, less so. And trips to the Rhein from which we always returned wiser. Both from the positive and the negative experiences.

Then, invariably, came Covid and not only Passagen and IMM became much more complicated places to visit, but Cologne.

2024 we’re back. Or at least are back at Passagen, we’re still wrestling with the question of whether to return to large, international fairs such as IMM; still wrestling with questions of the necessity and justification and sustainability and meaningfulness of large, international fairs such as IMM. But that is no reason to ignore the design weeks that accompany them.

Thus in the coming days we will bring you some of our thoughts and reflections on some of the showcases visited in context of Passagen Interior Design Week 2024.

Thoughts and reflections on some of the design and designers encountered in the ancient, meandering, Passagen of Kölle.

Alaaf!!!

Passagen Interior Design Week 2024 - Alaaf!!!

“Why are you studying in the pottery?”, enquired Paul Klee of Else Mögelin in 1921 after seeing her paintings of the village of Dornburg, home of the original Bauhaus Weimar pottery workshop, “these watercolours look as if they are designs for tapestries”.

With Else Mögelin. Ich wollte, gegen alle Hindernisse, weben the Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für moderne Kunst, Cottbus, explain and explore what happened next, and thereby help introduce an interesting and informative, if all too popularly anonymous, 20th century creative…….

Else Mögelin. Ich wollte, gegen alle Hindernisse, weben, Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für moderne Kunst, Dieselkraftwerk, Cottbus

Time was when new architecture and design exhibitions opened every month. Some months more. Some months less. But every month enough for a list.

Time was.

But time is.

And today you’ll struggle to find new showcases opening in August and January. If that’s a collective decision made by the global museum community, or pure chance, we no know. We can but observe it’s existence as an actual thing.

Or put another way: we can find, globally, but one, as in 1, new exhibition due to open in January 2024; and 1, famously, can’t be the basis for a list.

Thus, and as with August 2023, January 2023, and August 2022, in place of recommendations for new exhibitions opening, we bring you a list of all those architecture and design exhibition currently running that you can view in January 2024. And do so with the recommendation that you view as many as possible. Because from February onwards the number of new openings increases greatly, and you may struggle to keep up…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for January 2024

The Historia Supellexalis U for USM Haller

 

USM Haller

A Fritz; A Ball; A System

According to Germanic folklore, “If December is wild with rain, then leave your fields and get thee to an architecture or design museum”

Our five locations for escaping the rains of December 2023 can be found in Cottbus, Rome, Maastricht, Tallinn and Zürich…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for December 2023