Category: Exhibitions and Shows


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Gestures belong to the oldest of human actions and interactions. Have accompanied mankind through good times and bad, through its innumerate technical, cultural and social revolutions.

And are so intuitive, we are often barely aware of them.

With the exhibition Gestures – Past, Present and Future, the Sächsische Industriemuseum Chemnitz explores not only the (hi)story and importance of gestures, but for all their role in our smart, digital, autonomous futures.

Gestures - Past, Present and Future at the Sächsische Industriemuseum Chemnitz

Visitors to the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig have long been able to rest on Jasper Morrison’s Vitra Bench, an object liberally distributed throughout the museum complex.

With the exhibition Thingness the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig offers visitors a deeper insight into Jasper Morrison’s oeuvre, and creative processes.

Jasper Morrison - Thingness @ Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig

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

The old adage that the only certainties in life are death and taxes has become (more than) a little passé of late.

However even the accountants and investment bankers cannot, yet, avoid death.

With the exhibition Tod & Ritual – Kulturen von Abschied und Erinnerung the Staatliches Museum für Archäologie Chemnitz, smac, explore the historical and cultural traditions and rituals of that last remaining timeless, universal, and utterly inescapable phenomenon.

Tod & Ritual - Kulturen von Abschied und Erinnerung, Staatliches Museum für Archäologie Chemnitz

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

Modular lighting is a seldom encountered genre, and when it is encountered, then invariably in a very technical form, a form that implies the computer software has taken a greater role in the creative process than the designers understanding of form-giving,

There are however exceptions…..

304 by Nick Beens, as seen at Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2017

While figuratively “blowing the roof off” is arguably an aim of every design festival; physically having your roof blown off is not.

Sadly that is what happened to Designblok Prague 2017; Storm Herwart, when not completely de-roofing the Art Deco Palace of Industry which hosted the event, causing damage sufficient to force organisers the cancel the last two days of the five day festival.

A situation not only unfortunate and irksome for the organisers and exhibitors, but disappointing all those who had planned spending the Sunday and/or Monday at the event.

Does however give the organisers a relevant and fitting theme for Designblok Prague 2018 …… but before we get there, our Designblok Prague 2017 High 5!!

Designblok Prague 2017: High Five!!

Although as an event Dutch Design Week has always had a focus on presenting design in context, design in practice, our feeling is that of late that focus has intensified, something we thoroughly approve of as it helps make tangible that design is, can be, more than pretty objects; does however mean that you increasingly need to take more time with you to Eindhoven. Or accept that you are going to miss a lot of, potentially, interesting and thought provoking presentations.

Necessity meant that this year we followed option two.

But that still left us more than enough time to discover projects to get cross about, be confused by or simply quietly admire.

Or indeed vocally admire: our Dutch Design Week 2017 High Five!!

Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2017: High Five!!

In context of Designblok Prague 2017 the winners of the fourth edition of the pan-European design graduate competition Diploma Selection were unveiled at a ceremony in the city’s Palace of Industry.

Diploma Selection 2017 winners, nominated, jury, Uncle Tom Cobley and all at Designblok Prague 2017

“Marcel Breuer seeing a pair of bicycle handle-bars decided to make chairs using the same industrial process”, notes Jasper Morrison in his text, The Poet will not Polish, “the new world constructor seeing a pair of bicycle handle-bars decides to use them as they are and save himself the trouble and expense of bending the tube.”*

On seeing an aluminium tube, Eindhoven based studio OS ∆ OOS followed, in many respects, a similar logic. The result is the Tunnel collection.

OS ∆ OOS @ Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 2017

Algorithms as dance, a tactile architecture guide and a future-proof flat sharing platform.

On Thursday October 26th the winners of the 2017 Kölner Design Preis were unveiled at a ceremony in the city’s Museum für Angewandte Kunst, MAKK; and where until Sunday November 19th the three winning, and all nominated, projects, can be viewed in a specially conceived Kölner Design Preis 2017 exhibition.

Kölner Design Preis 2017 exhibition at Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln, MAKK

As we believe we’ve noted before, the joy in that exhibition format in which designers present objects which are important and/or relevant to them, is that no matter how often it is repeated it is always new.

Same, same, but different.

For their 2017 show Dutch Invertuals are presenting collections of objects from 45 alumni which have an importance to/relevance for them, or which simply represent an object of wonder and inspiration to the relevant designer. And because it’s Dutch Invertuals they have taken things a step further and each collection is also the starting point for the development a personal container.

Exposing yourself and then using that as the basis for visibly enclosing yourself. A double encapsulation, If you will.

Dutch Invertuals - Fundamentals, Dutch Design Week Eindhoven 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

The Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne, ECAL, isn’t actually in Lausanne, but the community of Renens on the western edge of Lausanne.

Édith Piaf famously opined that, je ne regrette rien, but how many of this year ECAL graduates would be singing, je regrette Renens?

Or perhaps better put, how many of this year’s graduates would Renens regrette?

To gauge the mood, we anchored on the shores of Lac Léman to visit the 2017 ECAL Graduation Show………

Ecole Cantonale d'art de Lausanne ECAL

Ukrainian designers haven’t featured often in these pages.

Arguably never.

And may never have, had it not been for the exhibition Transformation staged at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre during Paris Design Week 2017

The installation Pulse of Life by Nikolay Kabluka & decorKuznetsov, as seen at Transformation, Ukrainian Cultural Centre, Paris Design Week 2017

Whereas most design schools stage their annual exhibition at the end of the summer semester, there are exceptions, such as the Folkwang Universität der Künste, Essen, who present theirs just before the start of the winter semester.

And so nigh on three months after all others have ended.

Because, one wonders, they fear its brilliant glow would place all other schools in its shade, and they want to remain fair to their colleagues elsewhere? Because they have something to hide, and hope by waiting till October no one will visit?

Our #campustour may have long since been parked up for 2017, but keen to learn more we cranked it up and set course for Germany’s Ruhrgebiet…….

SANAA Building, Zeche Zollverein Essen, location for Finale 2017, Folkwang Universität der Künste Essen

“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

With their 1997 exhibition The Work of Charles and Ray Eames the Vitra Design Museum staged one of the first major Charles and Ray Eames retrospectives

Twenty years later they return to two of the 20th century’s most important creatives with An Eames Celebration: less of Charles and Ray, and more of the diversity, depth and continuing relevance of their work.

Charles & Ray Eames. The Power of Design, Vitra Design Museum

As regular readers will be aware, for us there is little more elegant and logical than the modular shelving system.

And in the variety of systems developed, little which better illustrates both the multitude of options available for the seemingly most simple of functionalities, and thereby the talent required, or perhaps function, of the designer in developing something meaningful, interesting and, ideally, attractive.

Of late we have seen several interesting new modular shelving propositions, Arronde by Camille Ravanel being one of the more pleasing.

Arronde by Camille Ravanel, as seen at Paris Design Week 2017

Paris Design Week is largely about brand in-store and similar PR driven presentations. An extension if you will of Maison et Objet into the city, and thus predictably prosaic.

Largely.

Not exclusively.

Throughout the city there are/were stimulating and challenging presentations to be found and interesting designers and manufacturers to be discovered and enjoyed.

Among the new discoveries we made at Paris Design Week 2017 was Paris based studio woodmade.

Mali à bascule by woodmade, as seen at now! le Off!, Paris Design Week 2017

As the old proverbs teach us, Waste Not, Want Not!

And, all that (g)litters is gold!

With the exhibition Pure Gold. Upcycled! Upgraded! the Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg not only demonstrate the inherent value that can exist in apparent waste, but also how understanding that inherent value could help us reduce future waste problems.

Pure Gold. Upcycled! Upgraded!, at Museum für Kunst Gewerbe Hamburg

Back in June 2016 we included the Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch’s exhibition Nacho Carbonell – On the Origin of Pieces amongst our five new architecture and design exhibition recommendations, noting that, for us, the exhibition appeared to offer “an excellent opportunity to, finally, get to know the man and his work. And for all to understand his cocoon constructions, works which terrify us as much as they fascinate us.”

We sadly never did make it to On the Origin of Pieces; however, the exhibition Living Organisms at the Horta Museum Brussels offers an equally good, if slightly less fulsome, opportunity to achieve the same.

A Forest chair and table, as seen at Living Organisms, the Horta Museum Brussels

If Milan marks the start of summer, Paris marks the end: the gentle warmth of the Lombarden sun and the fresh alpine breeze blowing over the Saloni ceding as it invariably does, nay must, to the brisk crispness of Maison et Objet.

C’est la vie!

The September 2017 edition of Maison et Objet was a disconcerting mix of baroque revival and picturesque, fantasy, Scandinavian, as if late 1980s Philippe Starck discovered hygge.

And over large stretches Maison et Objet 2017 is/was just as terrifying as that sounds. Our only consolation being the certainty that those responsible are but blindly chasing the shadow of a fashion, ’tis but a trend, and trends always, but always, fade.

Fortunately some objects on show arose from more honest origins. As ever we didn’t see everything, apologies to all we missed, but here our Maison et Objet Autumn 2017 High 4!! And some poppy, late ’90s dance…

Designers are prone to spending inordinate amounts of time shaving a millimetre of a surface thickness. Or trying to increase the distance between two points by a couple of millimetres. Occupations which to the uninitiated can appear just a tick obsessive. In how far however relatively small changes of scale, differences of a few millimetres, can alter not only the physical appearance of a product, but the very character of a product, was elegantly explained by Danish manufacturer Houe at spoga+gafa Cologne 2017.

And that such changes can also have an aural impact, a Click becoming a Clip.

Clips Rocking Chair by Henrik Pedersen for Houe, as seen at spoga+gafa Cologne 2017