Category: Exhibitions and Shows


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

Whereas other cities get by with a design week, Brussels has a whole month: which shouldn’t be taken as an indication Brussels is four times more design than say Milan, Eindhoven or Vienna.

It isn’t.

It just takes its time. Doesn’t rush. It is Belgium after all ……

For Brussels Design September 2017 MAD Brussels is hosting Belgitude & The New Belgians, two exhibitions of contemporary product design curated by the federal platform Belgium is Design.

Belgitude @ MAD Brussels

The 2017 spoga+gafa garden trade fair in Cologne hosted the 5th edition of the unique youngstar outdoor living design competition. Open to current design students, or those who have graduated within the past three years, the 2017 unique youngstar attracted a recorder number of 81 entries from 18 countries, from which a shortlist of 15 nominees was selected and presented in an exhibition at spoga+gafa 2017. At an awards ceremony on Sunday in Cologne the prize winners were announced……

unique youngstar 2017, Cologne

The September architecture and design exhibition recommendations are arguably the cruellest to write: the fact that the majority of the exhibitions end in the depths of the European winter meaning that as we sit here hoping that summer keeps going just a little, little, longer…. we’re forced to think about winter jackets and gloves.

And so before things get that far, best get out there and visit an exhibition!! Our five recommendations for September 2017 feature new exhibitions in Weil am Rhein, Los Angeles, Utrecht, Frankfurt and Malmö…….

smow blog 5 New Design Exhibitions for September 2017

Much like the aardvark, or Alvar Aalto, Aachen is always likely to find itself at the top of any alphabetical list.

But aside from such orthographic deceit, would the FH Aachen be at the top of our #campustour list…….?

FH Aachen Design Department @ Boxgraben 100 Aachen

Although Bauhaus originally opened in Weimar, the Bauhaus most people understand as Bauhaus is Bauhaus Dessau.

But can the students of the Bauhaus University Weimar reclaim “Bauhaus” for Weimar?

The Bauhaus University Weimar’s annual Summaery exhibition offered a chance to learn more…..

Bauhaus University Weimar (Photo © Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Foto: Nathalie Mohadjer)

Without wanting to in any way detract from the work undertaken by Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee students in the past year, a highlight of our visit to the 2017 Rundgang summer exhibition was the thunderstorm which broke while we there. Calling it biblical would be to trivialise the ferocity with which it smit the day asunder, turning in its fury the Bühringstraße in front of the school into a Bühring Straits. And the first of three storms which broke over Berlin in quick succession, almost sinking the German capital.

Magnificent, imposing and a joy to behold. But would the 2017 Rundgang also make such a positive and lasting impression……..?

Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee

Visiting the 2017 end of year Werkschau exhibition at the Peter Behrens School of Arts, Düsseldorf we were greatly reminded of the school’s eponym’s own time in Düsseldorf.

If not for the reasons one might assume…….

Peter Behrens School of Arts Düsseldorf

Whereas the Ludwig Forum Aachen’s focus is contemporary art, since March 2017 the museum has giving floor space over to contemporary designers and the project LuForm. The Design Department; thereby not only increasing the scope of the museum but also offering designers from the region a new platform.

LuForm @ Ludwig Forum Aachen

In 2018 the Hochschule München Design Department will move a few hundred metres round the corner from its current home, a home it has occupied for over forty years, to a new purpose built facility opposite the main college building; consequently, the 2017 Jahresausstellung was one of the last chances to experience the Design Department in its original location.

But was it a presentation worthy of the moment, a fitting au revoir to an old friend……….?

Hochschule München Design Department

Established in 1992 the Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe was conceived from the off as a design school for coming realities, for a world we don’t yet know.

But is that a world of smart, autonomous apps? A world of intelligent and considered applications of evolving technology? Of the craft of yore? The 2017 Rundgang durch die Lichthöfe summer exhibition was a chance to glean some clues……

Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe

While it’s certainly true that without having been introduced to the work of Akademie für Gestaltung der Handwerkskammer Münster alumni Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider a.k.a design studio kaschkasch, we probably wouldn’t pay that much attention to the Akademie, that introduction was pre-kaschkasch: a project from Florian at DMY Berlin 2010 and one from Sebastian at IMM Cologne 2011. And yes we are blowing ever so gently on our own trumpet. If at the same time terrifying ourselves by the thought of just how long we’ve locked in this death spiral.

But being aware of the Akademie für Gestaltung der Handwerkskammer Münster, our 2017 #campustour couldn’t not visit their Finale graduation exhibition….

Akademie für Gestaltung der Handwerkskammer Münster

Owing to the unique nature of Berlin’s history and geopolitical relevance, the (hi)stories of all the city’s cultural institutions are invariably complex. And the number of such institutions greater than in most comparable metropoli*. Few other cities can boast, for example, two public zoos, three public operas or four public universities. And while three of Berlin’s universities offer individual courses in subjects such as architecture, theatre studies or music, there is only one which offers an education in all such genres. And in design: The Universität der Künste Berlin.

Universität der Künste Berlin Design Department

Summer traditionally sees a fall off in the number of new exhibitions opening, the 2017 drought is however especially hard, so much so that we can only find four recommendations. Either the global museum community assume we’re all at the beach, and thus not interested, or expect the world to end in September and so don’t see the point in new exhibitions.

It is a little unclear.

However, not only are we interested, but it takes a little more than the threat of an imminent apocalypse to keep us away from an interesting exhibition ….  our recommendations for August 2017 with new exhibitions in Zürich, Copenhagen, Moscow and Weimar.

5 New Design Exhibitions for August 2017

The Hochschule Wismar is an institution we have wanted to visit for a long time; and no, not just because it means a trip to the Baltic Coast and the historic Hanseatic port, but much more for despite being in no respect the largest design school in Germany, it is one of the most present: from Milan to Berlin to Cologne hardly a design week passes without Wismar.

And so we wanted to understand the school a little better. Which is of course one of the stated aims of our 2017 #campustour, developing a better understanding of contemporary design education and those schools responsible.

The thought of a Sunday afternoon on the Baltic Coast admittedly didn’t make the decision any harder…..

Hochschule Wismar Faculty of Design

As an institution London’s Royal Albert Hall teaches us that regardless how illustrious and prestigious your history may be, you can never rest on your laurels, you are only ever as relevant and interesting as your next programme, as your next soloist..

With the 2017 Graduate Show the Royal Albert Hall’s next door neighbour, the equally illustrious and prestigious, Royal College of Art unveiled its 2017 programme and 2017 soloists.

But would there be a standing ovation…

Royal College of Art, London Darwin Building. Home of the Design School

Although older than Bauhaus Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle has arguably never achieved the same popular acclaim as its fêted near neighbour.

Is however still in existence, and thus need not live on its laurels, but rather can continually develop its legacy through the efforts and ideas of its staff and students.

The 2017 annual summer exhibition provided insights into the contribution made, and being made, by the current crop……..

Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle: The Goldbau

Somewhat disappointingly the authorities in the southern German town of Schwäbisch Gmünd have succumbed to the current unicorn lunacy and placed one in the town’s coat of arms.

But could the design students at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd be relied upon to resist such short term fads?

The 2017 Rundgang summer exhibition provided the answers…….

Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd @ Rektor-Klaus-Straße

The donkey, dog, cat and cockerel featured in the Brothers Grimm’s retelling of the traditional folktale Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten never made to it to Bremen, never worked as musicians, and thus never enriched the cultural heritage of the Hansa port.

But would any of the Hochschule für Künste Bremen’s 2017 Integrated Design graduates augment the city’s long history?

Would any rise to the post of Bremer Stadtkreativen……?

Hochschule für Künste Bremen (Photo Hochschule für Künste Bremen)

Sited in the gentile calm of Pimlico, Chelsea College of Arts sits between the independent free-thinking of the Tate Britain, the original Tate with its collection of British and international art from 1500 until today, and the state control and surveillance of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, in their unobtrusive bunker on the opposite bank of the Thames

But where would the conformity/rebellion equilibrium be found amongst the current crop of Chelsea students…….

Chelsea College of Arts, London. Tate Britain on the left, the College builing on the right

The 18th century forebearer of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart was established as a location “where the youth can be cultivated, likes plants in a nursery”

While nurseries can produce strong and noble trees, flowers with the most exquisite blossoms and hardy perennials that keep on contributing to their environment, they are also often home to unstable experimental hybrids and provide the perfect breeding ground for parasites and disease.

How well the current Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart nursery is being maintained could be assessed at the 2017 Rundgang summer exhibition……

Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart