Category: smow


Whereas Frankfurt can, and very loudly does, claim to the birthplace of the German poet, playwright, scientist, statesman, etc, etc, etc Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, nearby Offenbach was not only the birthplace of his almost wife and long, long time love Lili Schönemann, but it was in the, then, relative, calm of Offenbach that Goethe’s affections for Lili evolved and grew; “Lili was the first person I deeply and truly loved, and maybe she was the last”, an octogenarian Goethe is reported as having confided to a friend.

Would however we return from the 2018 Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach Rundgang with such a deep, enduring love….? With our own Lili……?

Rundgang 2018, Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach

In October 2017 the Design Department of the Folkwang Universität der Künste Essen moved into its new home, the so-called Quartier Nord designed by Stuttgart based MGF Architekten.

The 2018 Folkwang Summer Rundgang therefore not only offered an opportunity to explore the work undertaken by institute’s students in the semester past, but also to explore their new home…….

Folkwang Universität der Künste Essen Quartier Nord Rundgang 2018

During June 2018 the participative art installation Freiheit 2.0 in Stuttgart is exploring issues around Big Data, artificial intelligence and the future of our relationships with the digital, virtual, environment.

In addition to a series of colloquia in which invited experts talk about aspects of the wider themes and engage in conversations with the project initiator Florian Mehnert, the three further pillars on which Freiheit 2.0 is built are a Self-Tracking App via which everyone can create a personal movement profile akin to the ones Big Data constructs for each of us everyday; Public Space, the renaming of local businesses with the suffix “der freiheit” [of/for/the freedom]; and the Guidance System, a series of coloured lines which lead from the renamed businesses to the Freedom Laboratory in Stuttgart’s StadtPalais museum.

The latter two being pillars which, if we’re being honest, we didn’t quite 100% understand as supporting ahead of the opening; but whose intrinsic role in the construction became much clearer after we’d had a chance to stroll along and among them……

smow der Freiheit, as seen during Freiheit 2.0 Stuttgart

If swarm intelligence describes natural systems where individuals pool their resources for the benefit of the community, then Big Data can be considered a form of swarm intelligence appropriated by commerce: where commerce pools individuals’ resources, their data, for the benefit of commerce. In both swarm intelligence and Big Data the individuals involved are, largely, unaware of the extent of the interaction and resource pooling. Whereas however birds, bees, fish and ants needn’t be aware of such, we all really should be, that we generally aren’t making Big Data much more a demonstration of swarm unintelligence. If not swarm negligence.

With his participatory art installation Freiheit 2.0 Florian Mehnert visualises the permanent interaction between our analogue and digital lives, the ensuing tensions, and thereby aims to allow us a new, differentiated, view of where we are at and where we could end up.

Throughout June 2018 Freiheit 2.0 can be experienced in Stuttgart, and ahead of the opening we spoke with Florian Mehnert.

Freiheit 2.0 Stuttgart

Following smow Lisboa’s surprise victory in the 2017 smow Song Contest, the Portuguese capital is preparing to host the 2018 song contest: a contest being staged very much in context of the contemporary relevance of smow’s historic connections….

smow song contest 2018

The only FAQ not answered by the smow FAQs is the one that begins, “What is smow……..?”

And as smow grows and grows so too does the F with which the Q is A’d.

The answer in one sense is very simple, smow trade in furniture, lighting and home/office accessories through a series of showrooms and online shops. But that only partly explains “smow”. Doesn’t explain the how, who, why and wherefore. Nor the richness. Explaining the true smow is in many respects best achieved by exploring another trading institution whose superficial simplicity hides its true depth of character ….. The Hanseatic League.

Then as now the way to the top was difficult, but a challenge the succesful traders didn't shy away from.....

As we’ve oft noted in these pages, not only have designers since time immemorial had a particular fascination for chairs, but society a particular predilection.

Arguably the two are related and can be traced to the long, universal, cultural, political and social relevance of the chair and the act of sitting, a state of affairs which not only makes the physical chair/seat an integral part of our lives, but the metaphorical: excitement brings us to edge of our chairs, those who are brave/foolish enough place themself in the hot seat, while we either sit in judgement or on the fence depending on what prudence and prejudice advise.

And so following on from our Cupboards, Closets, Wardrobes Playlist, a Radio smow Chairs Playlist, starting with five songs which discuss the action, symbolism and relevance of chairs/sitting in various contexts. Considerations on which can keep us occupied for hours.

No, honest…..

radio smow chairs playlist

Can innovation be an end to itself? Are we living in excess? Do things bewilder and inspire us still? Does a museum collection inevitably lose its link to reality as time goes by? What is good design?

The exhibition Hella Jongerius & Louise Schouwenberg – Beyond the New at Die Neue Sammlung Munich poses a lot of questions.

Questions which needn’t necessarily find answers, but which should serve as inspiration and motivation to further questions, and thus a deeper discourse on design.

Hella Jongerius & Louise Schouwenberg - Beyond the New, Die Neue Sammlung - The Design Museum, Munich

Throughout June and July well be touring Europe in context for our 2017 #campustour.

By way of an accompaniment, we thought it would be an opportune moment for a game of bingo.

For who doesn’t love bingo?

Welcome to smow Blog #campustour Bingo (photo by via https://commons.wikimedia.org)

Very much like Willie Nelson, we’re on the road again, and like a band of gypsies goin’ down the highway, we’ll be goin’ places that we’ve never been, seein’ things that we may never see again, and all the time insistin’ that the world keep turnin’ our way.

It’s smow blog #campustour 2017

smow blog #campustour 2017

It’s early May and once again the party ship we call the smow song contest is ready to set sail……

smow song contest 2017

There is one song missing from the smow blog playlist: missing for the simple, regrettable, and thoroughly avoidable, reason that it isn’t on spotify.

For din skyld by the Danish singer Birgit Brüel. Denmark’s entry for the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest. And featuring lyrics by Poul Henningsen.

Yes, that Poul Henningsen.

Poul Henningsen

It’s not quite radio smow. Not yet. But we hope it is another way to enjoy, and understand, the smow blog…….

6 D 030 Z by Charles Ray Eames for Evans for Zenith Radio, as seen at Radio Days. Tube Radios, Design Classics, Internet Radio, the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne

Design European Championship 2016 Final - Starting line-up Portugal

After four weeks of competition at venues throughout France the 2016 Design EM prepares to bid adieu, au revoir and

Workaround by Sofie Aschan Eriksson, Lund University School of Industrial Design. As seen at DMY Berlin 2016

We’re not going to claim that DMY Berlin 2016 was a vintage year, for us the 14th edition of the

Ever since supermarkets started filling their shelves with Christmas foodstuffs in September, view-on-demand has allowed us to watch “It’s a

On Leipzig’s Augustusplatz one can currently enjoy the wonders of the Leipzig Märchenland, the Leipzig Fairytale World. Alternatively, some 500m

Domestic furnishings at smow Stuttgart

It only seems like five minutes since two tall, neatly coiffured, strangers strode, self-confidently, across the floor of the old

Structural Skin New material by Jorge Penades, as seen at DMY Berlin 2015

When making biscuits, after having cut out the required shapes you invariably have a lot of dough left over, dough

101.86 black Thomas Vailly & Laura Lynn Jansen, as seen at Dutch Invertuals - Body Language, Milan Design Week 2015

As a general rule, what you don’t say is more important than what you do say: your body language famously

Ripple by Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, as seen at Ventura Lambrate, Milan 2015

Given that all we have too many household accessories and our planet too few natural resources to justify continually producing

For us one of the few genuine joys of Milan Design Week is observing visitors to the furniture fair perching

Michael Geldmacher Eva Paster Neuland Industriedesign

It being early April Milan furniture fair once again stands before us and with it the promise of untold column

Name: smow introducing Born: Leipzig, 2010 Alma mater: University of life Featured designers: Christoffer Martens Erik Wester Christian Lessing Eva

Passagen Cologne 2015 Objects in Between Kai Linke T(ubo)

The nature of product design, and for all furniture design, being what it is, we all have a predisposition to