“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…….
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…….
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…….
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…….
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……
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…….
“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”…….
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.
“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…….
Time was when new architecture and design exhibitions opened every month. Some months more. Some months less. But every month enough for a list.
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…….
“So revolutionary his ideas”, opined the Austrian state broadcaster ORF in 1969 of architect Hans Hollein, “when he enunciates them they sound like the cosy, cordial habitiere of ages past. His ‘schauen se‘ and ‘eeeeeh‘ conjure up Fiaker, the chatter and gossip on Graben, the Riesenrad, memories of alt-Wien“.1
With Hollein Calling. Architectural Dialogues the Architekturzentrum Wien invite one to explore in more detail the vocabulary and articulation of Hans Hollein…….
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…….
In 1930 the Danish designer and educator Kaare Klint opined that in terms of furniture and furnishings, “Problemerne er ikke saa nye, de er i mange Tilfælde løst før“, “the problems are not so new, they have in many cases been solved before”.1
With the exhibition Home Sweet Home. The Archaeology of Domestic Life, SMAC – Staatliches Museum für Archäologie Chemnitz, test that theory to extreme levels, and also expand it beyond furniture and furnishings to all aspects of domestic arrangements and domesticity over the past 30,000 years…….
There is an argument to be made that popular understandings of, and the popular presentation of, inter-War European avant-garde architecture and design tend to focus on Germany and Russia, and on Functionalism, popular foci that tend to cause us all to forget that the inter-War European avant-Garde was a homogenous mix of positions and, and as with the Art Nouveau before it, an international moment defined by its variety of regional dialects.
With the exhibition Hej rup! The Czech Avant-Garde the Bröhan Museum, Berlin, provide for an introductory course in inter-War Czechoslovakian…….
With the exhibition Everything at Once: Postmodernity, 1967–1992 the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, request a more considered response…….
Back in the spring Haitian musician Wyclef Jean informed us all he’d be “Gone Till November”.
And so he should be back any day now; and given how busy he’s invariably been all summer, earning as he has been enough money to buy out blocks, he’s probably not had a chance to visit an architecture or design museum. And so, we assume, will be absolutely desperate to stimulate his cognitive faculties.
Our five recommendations for new exhibitions opening in November 2023 for Wyclef Jean, or indeed for anyone seeking to achieve fresh perspectives on architecture, design and the world around us, can be found in Vienna, Oslo, Brno, Krefeld and Ljubljana…….