smow blog compact: Munich Creative Business Week 2015. Preview.

February 14th, 2015

Premièred in 2012 as a platform to help connect design with business and to encourage greater design thinking by and acceptance of the value of design for industry, and as a sort of supporting fringe event to envelop and accompany the iF Design Award ceremony following the decision to host the event in the Bavarian capital, Munich Creative Business Week has developed over the years into a very interesting event which, although still largely promotional in character, does from time to time venture into territory other design festivals rarely reach.

Underscoring Kathrin Böhm, Antje Schiffers and Wapke Feenstra’s observation that discourses on urban environments are more common than on rural communities, the thematic focus for Munich Creative Business Week 2015 is “Metropolitan Ideas” – so urban planning, urban mobility, urban healthcare et al – and in addition to a series of presentations, films and lectures, a central component of the “Metropolitan Ideas” programme is the exhibition HIT THE FUTURE – Metropolitan Design. Curated by Sarah Dorkenwald from the Bavarian regional design agency bayern design and Munich based Studio Satellit a.k.a Alexandra Weigand, HIT THE FUTURE – Metropolitan Design promises to present inter-disciplinary solutions for sustainable urban development and features contributions from, amongst others, Studio Formafantasma, Justin McGuirk, Julia Lohmann and Berlin based design studio Shapes in Play.

The second thematic focus of Munich Creative Business Week 2015 is partner country Denmark and in addition to a series of presentations in the Munich flagships of key Danish manufacturers such as Fritz Hansen or BoConcept, the Denmark programme also features a very interesting sounding talk on “national stereotypes and marketing strategies” from Dr. Erla Hallsteinsdóttir.

Munich Creative Business Week 2015 HIT THE FUTURE – Metropolitan Design

Munich Creative Business Week 2015: HIT THE FUTURE – Metropolitan Design

Beyond the programmatic foci Munich Creative Business Week 2015 also features a wide and varied exhibition programme; the majority of which fall into the in-store, promotional type, including nice sounding showcases at Leica, Alessi, Vitsoe, Nymphenburg and Rosenthal; but which also features a few very promising sounding “independent” shows including Design for all Generations from the Handwerkskammer für München und Oberbayern, Czech Design Works at the Tschechisches Zentrum, Tools for A Break: Korean Crafts and Design at the Keum Art-Projects and a further opportunity to view the aed neuland 2013 exhibition – and a timeous opportunity at that with entries for 2015 aed neuland young designer competition needing to be submitted by March 31st!

In addition Munich Creative Business Week 2015 also promises a special programme aimed at “Start-ups”, a series of conferences, talks, podium discussions, workshops and tours: in which context, for all in Munich on Saturday February 28th don’t miss the bus tour with Nils Holger Moormann and Nitzan Cohen, a ninety minute tour during which the pair will discuss creativity in Munich and their own personal associations with the city. Munich is the city where Nils Holger Moormann had his first youthful design experiences, and given his comments on the contemporary German furniture industry in our recent interview with him, we’re sure he’ll also have something to say about “creative business” and for all the current balance of power and influence between “creative” and “business”

Munich Creative Business Week 2015 runs from Saturday February 21st until Sunday March 1st at various locations throughout Munich.

Full details can be found at

Munich Creative Business Week 2015

Munich Creative Business Week 2015

smow Interview: Nils Holger Moormann – We desperately need a new revolution!

February 12th, 2015

In our post from the exhibition Schrill Bizarr Brachial. Das Neue Deutsche Design der 80er Jahre at the Bröhan Museum Berlin we noted that, for us, the two most important legacies of the Neues deutsches Design movement and 1980s German Postmodernism are and were the number of protagonists from then currently teaching at German design schools, and those manufacturers who arose from the heady, damp haze of the period. Manufacturers such as Nils Holger Moormann.

Established in the early 1980s from the youthful design experiences of the bored but otherwise upstanding law student Nils Holger Moormann, the eponymous company has evolved over the past three decades to establish itself as one of Europe’s most interesting and challenging contemporary furniture producers.

At the 2015 Ambiente interiors fair Nils Holger Moormann will be awarded the “Personality” lifetime achievement award by the Rat für Formgebung – the German Design Council. Much as we have an innate mistrust of design awards, and for all of lifetime achievement awards for the living and lively, the combination of the award and the exhibition offer the perfect excuse to speak with Nils Holger Moormann about furniture design and the furniture industry then, now and in the future, but we began by asking how he found his way to furniture design……

Nils Holger Moormann: Pure chance. I’d studied law for 8 semesters, wasn’t really enjoying it and then, and as so often happens, through chance and acquaintances I was introduced to this world of contemporary design, and was immediately enthralled. There were terrible things, fantastic things, high-tech creations, Bauhaus and more traditional furniture mixed with objects which had been completely ripped out of context, and I found that all absolutely fascinating. I didn’t really understand any of it, but the spirit of adventure and freedom allowed even those without a relevant academic or professional background to get involved and simply through learning by doing to find your own way.

smow blog: And were you aware of what one could call a “scene”, or how did you experience the situation?

Nils Holger Moormann: I wasn’t aware of a scene as such. It was a relatively small, informal community, and one simply drifted through it. You met people, were subsequently invited somewhere, were introduced to new people, heard that they were doing this or that and from that work learned of other designers. For me it was like a huge festival with a 1000 surprises, everything was possible, you were puzzled, dumbfounded, surprised, didn’t understand; one was simply aware of being part of something new and invigorating.

smow blog: Does the fact that you found your way to design via Neues deutsches Design mean you had no interest in the more functional design, for example the so-called gute Form, that up until then had largely dominated German design?

Nils Holger Moormann: No, no not all. For me this Neues deutsches Design was wonderfully shrill and bizarre and one was aware of celebrating a revolution; but what principally interested me was a reduced design that had an added value, a design which contained an idea, an idea that caught my imagination. And much as I would often fall in love with shrill and wacky objects, I was only a true proponent of the more reserved design objects

smow blog: And were you designing yourself in those days?

Nils Holger Moormann: Initially no, I set myself up more as a sales rep, and would travel through Germany and Europe meeting designers and architects who were producing their own designs and would take on the distribution for them; the idea was to become similar to a publisher for extraordinary books.

smow blog: The only object from that period still in production with yourselves is the Gespanntes Regal from Wolfgang Laubersheimer, is that the only “extraordinary” book that has survived the ravages of time, or perhaps better put, why has it survived the ravages of time?

Nils Holger Moormann: When one looks back to that period the Gespanntes Regal is in general one of only very few pieces that are still in production. The Gespanntes Regal is one of those pieces that fascinated me from the first moment I saw it: an unstable construction that can’t support itself but which then receives its tension, stability and functionality from a simple steel cable, and it is a piece that not only remains as fresh and relevant for me today as back then but is an object which still stands for our philosophy.

smow blog: Which of course poses the obvious next question, is there anything from the spirit of then to be found in the contemporary German furniture industry?

Nils Holger Moormann: Unfortunately not. It was a protest and a revolution and an attempt to forge something new, but that is history and now we have a situation where we’re largely driven by industry; many of the current manufactures don’t even have owners but rather are part of larger concerns, exist in effect simply to generate profit, and the result is the furniture that is being offered all looks the same. Everything has become very homogeneous, so much so that sometimes I have the feeling that if you were to go to IMM Cologne at night and mix up the furniture, take pieces from one stand and place them on another, hardly anyone would notice. And that is a shame because it means the esprit, the curiosity, the aspiration is missing. Sometimes I have the feeling that the only passion that is there is to make sellable products, and that’s not the the way forward. Yes you have got to have the luck to make a profit and remain financially stable, but you also need to search for new ideas and new approaches and for me that currently occurs too infrequently. For me there is too little protest, too few attempts to try something new, even when you know that it might not work, to at least try. In my opinion we desperately need a new revolution!

smow blog: Need, but will we get?

Nils Holger Moormann: I’m of a naturally positive disposition and I believe that it will come. Not least because the young designers today must increasingly take everything into their own hands and so will be forced to find new ways, new solutions and new systems. And much like in the 1980s through that searching will come the changes.

smow blog: We sense however the spirit of then still forms a key part of who you are and how you operate?

Nils Holger Moormann: Yes, Gott sei dank! The moment the youthful searching, the curiosity and the passion stops that’s the moment you become pragmatic and start to optimise things on a purely economic level. But before the financial must always come the exploration, the esprit and the passion.

Nils Holger Moormann

Nils Holger Moormann.Designer. Entrepreneur. Publisher. (Photo ©Dirk Bruniecki)

Schrill Bizarr Brachial Das Neue Deutsche Design der 80er Jahre Bröhan Museum Berlin Pentagon Wolfgang Laubersheimer Detlef Meyer Voggenreither

Gespanntes Regal by Wolfgang Laubersheimer (l) and Mai '68 by Detlef Meyer Voggenreither (r), as seen at Schrill Bizarr Brachial. Das Neue Deutsche Design der 80er Jahre, Bröhan Museum Berlin

smow bookcase: Depot Basel – Display

February 11th, 2015

When in 2013 the design facilitators from Depot Basel were forced to move from their original home in a former grain silo to their current home in a former bureau de change they not only gave up a venue which we once, and not entirely positively, declared as the “picture perfect location for a contemporary design gallery“, they also gave up some 90% of their space: 800 sqm becoming just 65.

What they however gained was display windows. Lots of display windows. And the question of how best to utilise said windows.

Yes, as an extension of the exhibition space and as a continuation of Depot Basel’s mission to mediate design and design thinking to as wide a public as possible.

But how can Depot Basel best use their windows to achieve that?

Commercial galleries who are selling the objects they display have windows as any shop does.

Galleries who understand themselves more as museums rarely have windows. And if they do they are generally blacked out and used solely to present posters advertising what one can view inside. Again, much like a shop window; the “goods” for sale being a visit to an exhibition rather than apples, oranges or an art deco lamp.

Yet as Depot Basel note, “where the purpose of the shopping window is to lure the consumer to wanting to purchase certain items, the designer or artist display has a different agenda that doesn’t necessarily want to connect to the viewers own personal desires and needs, but rather create a tension that will demand the viewer to reflect on what he or she is looking at.”

But, and at the risk of repeating ourselves, how best to achieve that?

Being Depot Basel rather than simply having a team meeting and coming to a collective decision they created a project out of the question, developed a multi-disciplinary, participatory process that goes beyond the windows in question and explores in depth and detail the concept of “displaying”

Under the title “Display” the past two months have seen the collective organise a series of events, workshops and exhibitions, and a project which, at least formally, comes to a close on February 12th with the presentation of the book “Display”

depot basel display

The Depot Basel windows, as seen in the book Display (photo uncredited, published in Display)

Created by the graphic designers Christophe Clarijs, Kasper Pyndt, Timo Demollin and Kaja Kusztra in co-operation with Depot Basel co-founder Matylda Krzykowski, Display contains essays, photographs, illustrations and deliberations on various aspects of “displaying” – be that commercial, museal, public, institutional, informative, deliberate or accidental.

Short essays on, for example, the history of the billboard or the joys of waiting for your baggage at the airport are mixed with analyses of various display strategies and documentation of the events held at Depot Basel as part of the Display programme including the contribution from Basel collective TEOK and the workshop hosted by The Farm.

In an otherwise excellent book what we find a bit unfortunate is that Display makes no mention of the exhibition Okolo Offline, an exhibition which premièred in Depot Basel, including the Depot Basel windows, and which then continued in an extended form to the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden as Okolo Offline Two. For although not officially part of the Display programme, in addition to its primary focus on collecting Okolo Offline also explored displaying and thus would have provided another, not uninteresting, perspective on the discourse.

Although in no way a “how to” guide, Display can in many ways be read as an instruction manual for observers. On the one hand it elucidates how those who organise displays try to guide and/or manipulate us, on the other it makes very clear that we are all responsible for the way we perceive, understand and respond to a display and/or displayed object.

And thus that the success, or otherwise, of a display is a direct result of the balance achieved between these, at times, contradictory positions: What have I understood versus Have they understood what they are supposed to.

In a commercial context you must be convinced to consume.
In an informative context you must understand what you have to do, what not to do or where you have to go.
In an exhibition context you must….
Which of course brings us back to the crux of the problem, the raison d’etre for project and book and a topic delightfully handled in a conversation between Maria Jeglinska, Klara Czerniewska and Matylda Krzykowski.

It goes without saying that Display doesn’t provide any answers. But then it can’t. There is no answer. There is only an understanding of how one can best arrive at the best, most appropriate answer. Display lays down a framework to help you understand such in an entertaining, accessible and at times pleasingly abstract fashion.

Available in limited edition of just 100, we suspect Display will sell out very soon. If it hasn’t already.

However, knowing Depot Basel as we do we’re sure they’ll have a plan…..

Full details on Display and Depot Basel can be found at

International Village Show – Alle Dörfer an einem Ort at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

February 10th, 2015

Among the more arrogant characteristics of us city dwellers is our assumed cultural and creative superiority over those who live in the countryside.

A situation largely fuelled by the insular, self-absorbing nature of city life and the resulting belief that only an urban environment and its peculiar mix of influences and rituals can bring forth cultural evolution.

And a state of affairs barely helped by contemporary technological, demographic, economic and political changes and their far-reaching consequences not only for the nature of daily life in rural communities and the challenges faced by rural communities and their inhabitants, but also for how we city dwellers understand and perceive “rural issues”.

That rural communities are however not only locations with as much creative vigour and potential as cities, but that artistic interventions can both empower rural communities and help even the most haughty city dweller understand the importance, significance, quintessence and vitality of rural areas can be explored in the exhibition/project “International Village Show – Alle Dörfer an einem Ort” by and from the artist group Myvillages at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

Myvillages International Village Show  Alle Dörfer an einem Ort Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig

International Village Show – Alle Dörfer an einem Ort at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

Established in 2003 by the German artists Kathrin Böhm and Antje Schiffers together with their Dutch colleague Wapke Feenstra, Myvillages arose from a very fundamental observation, “one day”, explains Kathrin Böhm, “we realised that although the three of us all grew up in rural villages, we all now lived in the city and worked almost exclusively in and with the city; and consequently began to reflect why that should be, why we automatically always worked in urban spaces and never considered rural spaces.”

The first act of this reflection saw each of the three explore their own home villages and communities in an artistic context before in 2005 the trio organised the so-called “Village Convention”, a two day event held in Ditchling on England’s south coast and which saw artists from across the UK, Holland, Denmark, Austria, Germany and Spain discuss “Contextual Art in Rural Environments”. For Kathrin Böhm the impetus for the Village Convention was as obvious as it was necessary, “there are lots of individuals in rural areas who are producing interesting art but who are very poorly connected and poorly visible”. The Village Convention was a first attempt by Myvillages to change both for the better.

The intervening decade has seen Myvillages both continue their quest to better connect rural communities, and also help foster new relationships between the urban and rural, via a series of exhibitions, workshops and longer term projects ranging from, for example, the so-called “Bibliobox” travelling contextual art archive, over projects with a more social and/or land use focus such as “I like being a farmer and I would like to stay one”, a video project in which farmers across Europe present their daily lives, or “Former Farmland” which documents the stories behind land that was once agricultural but is now commercial and/or residential and onto projects with a more applied nature such as “International Village Shop”, a project which, as the name implies, sells products created by international village communities in cooperation with Myvillages, and which “pops up” short term or longer term at various global locations.

The International Village Shop’s latest manifestation coming as a central component of the exhibition International Village Show – Alle Dörfer an einem Ort at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, GfZK, in Leipzig.

International Village Show Alle Dörfer an einem Ort at Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig

International Village Show – Alle Dörfer an einem Ort at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

A project as ambitious as it is interesting, over the coming two years the International Village Show will present 16 rural villages, two at time for three months, in the GfZK’s Garden House. Featuring villages as diverse both culturally and geographically, as, for example, Ballykinler, Northern Ireland, Deer Trail, Colorado or Yang Deng, China, the International Village Show seeks to both introduce a selection of the global projects in and with which Myvillages are involved and also help link rural communities in a platform that stimulates debate, exchange and new ideas.

The first dual residency has been given over to Höfen, Bavaria and Ekumfi-Ekrawfo, Ghana, and in addition to presenting the villages and their villagers through a series of workshops, events and films, the showcase will also launch two new products realised by the communities: a lace tablecloth design created by and with the “Höfer Frauen” and a bamboo Fufu bowl from Ekumfi-Ekrawfo.

In addition to presenting the 16 global villages the International Village Show also features numerous projects with a local focus including a research project which seeks to visualise the regional geology and a cooperation with pupils from the evangelical school in Großbardau which will see the children create furniture intended for public spaces, and which will be presented and used in the GfZK garden this coming summer.

Myvillages International Village Show  Alle Dörfer an einem Ort Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig International Shop

International Village Show - Alle Dörfer an einem Ort Galerie für at the Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig. The International Village Shop (Photo: Kathrin Böhm, Myvillages)

Despite Myvillages’ focus on and interest in rural areas, for Kathrin Böhm the projects shouldn’t be seen as unflinchingly pro-rural, “we don’t want to polarise between rural and urban areas, nor romanticise the rural idyll”, she explains, “but much more observe and describe the constantly changing situation. There is a regular and broad discourse of the urban but much less discourse on the rural, yet interestingly when one starts to talk about rural communities suddenly lots of people have lots to say. There are however only very few public forums where one can lead a discourse over rural spaces.”

Those wanting to be part of a new discourse on rural communities or simply explore contemporary impressions on the reality of rural life are cordially invited to the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 9-11, 04107 Leipzig over the coming 24 months.

Or to explore the various projects online.

Full details can be found at:

Myvillages International Village Show  Alle Dörfer an einem Ort Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig Lace

International Village Show - Alle Dörfer an einem Ort. Lace tablecloth by the Höfer Frauen. Recognise anything....... (Photo: Kathrin Böhm, Myvillages)

IMM Cologne 2015: Erleuchtung Kräutergarten by Elisabeth Kocher and Anna-Lena Bast

February 6th, 2015

In our post on Plug Lamp by Form Us With Love for Ateljé Lyktan, we posed the question “where in Hades if not while at your desk are you likely to need both a light and a plug?”

And where, if not in your kitchen are you likely to need both a light and herbs?

Presented as part of the Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart Interior Design department’s IMM Cologne showcase “Wir bitten zu Tisch”, the Erleuchtung Kräutergarten – Enlightening Herb Garden – by Elisabeth Kocher and Anna-Lena Bast provides both in one genuinely endearing product.

No, there is no need for such.

Yes, you could just have a separate lamp and a separate herb pot.

But, as Elisabeth Kocher and Anna-Lena Bast delightfully demonstrate, one can also combine the two in a playful, elegant and very contemporary product that adds a new dimension to your kitchen and through the disruption of the conventional lines of vision helps form a new room aesthetic.

And we don’t doubt for a minute that one need be limited to herbs.

Or the kitchen.

All in all a delightful project and one we hope Elisabeth and Anna-Lena get the opportunity to develop further.

IMM Cologne 2015 Erleuchtung Kräutergarten by Elisabeth Kocher und Anna-Lena Bast

IMM Cologne 2015: Erleuchtung Kräutergarten by Elisabeth Kocher and Anna-Lena Bast

IMM Cologne 2015 Erleuchtung Kräutergarten by Elisabeth Kocher und Anna-Lena Bast

IMM Cologne 2015: Erleuchtung Kräutergarten by Elisabeth Kocher and Anna-Lena Bast

IMM Cologne 2015: Pocket Chair by Jesper Junge & Lenz Lounge Chair by Bartmann Berlin, Silvia Terhedebrügge & Hanne Willmann

February 4th, 2015

In our post on Rui Alves’s Bridge Chair prototype from IMM Cologne we noted that, although generally approving of the piece, it wasn’t as instantly accessible as much of Rui’s work. It took us a little bit of time to find our way into it. One possible reason is and was what we referred to as the “deliberately overproportioned upholstered seat and back rest”, and the associated unfamiliar but not unappealing form language with its vague reminiscence of Finn Juhl or Hans J Wegner, yet clearly very much its own.

Similarly, and in retrospect, what initially irritated us about the new Thonet 808 lounge chair by Formstelle was almost certainly the three sets of “wings” and the exaggerated form they give the object.

However, judging by a couple of other projects we saw at IMM Cologne 2015, it looks as if Rui and Formstelle might be riding the Zeitgeist a lot better than us, and that we all may have to get used to the overproportioned aesthetic.

On the DDM – Danish Design Makers’ stand Copenhagen based designer Jesper Junge presented his so-called Pocket Chair. Formed from birch veneer and featuring removable, and washable, Kvadrat felt covers, Pocket Chair combines a delicately curved and majestically overblown backrest with a more demure if unignorable seat to create a very elegant, formally coherent, object. And one where, in comparison to Rui’s Bridge Chair, we feel the chunky base is very appropriate.

IMM Cologne 2015 Pocket Chair Jesper Junge

IMM Cologne 2015: Pocket Chair by Jesper Junge

Not far from Pocket Chair, physically or formally, is and was the Lenz lounge chair by design studio Bartmann Berlin in cooperation with Silvia Terhedebrügge & Hanne Willmann. Effortlessly combining a moulded ash plywood seat and back rest with a powder coated steel base and very refined cushions, Lenz references various design epochs while remaining very much its own self-confident object. And an object which we can well imagine in a number of settings: domestic, public and commercial.

In addition to their larger than life proportions, the Bridge Chair, Pocket Chair and Lenz lounge chair are united by a lovely “low rider” character – something which instantly appealed to us in context of the Night club lounge chair by Alain Berteau as featured in the exhibition MAD ABOUT LIVING – 24 Designers froBrussels.

And which also greatly appeals to us in context of the Bridge Chair, Pocket Chair and Lenz lounge chair.

IMM Cologne 2015 Lenz lounge chair Bartman Berlin Silvia Terhedebrügge Hanne Willmann

IMM Cologne 2015: Lenz lounge chair by Bartmann Berlin, Silvia Terhedebrügge & Hanne Willmann

IMM Cologne 2015: Müller Möbelfabrikation

February 2nd, 2015

Contrary to popular legend, a change is not as good as a rest.

It’s better.

For whereas after a rest one just carries on ploughing the same furrow, change means new experiences and the gorgeous, invigorating, uncertainty of not knowing where the new path will take you.

After neigh on 18 years of producing refreshingly individual objects from sheet steel, and sheet steel alone, in 2014 Augsburg based Müller Möbelfabrikation began a flirtation with wood in context of their Stack sideboard/room divider. Nothing serious, just a few oak panels and doors innocently scattered throughout the familiar steel.

Yet also unquestionably something new.

At IMM Cologne 2015 Müller Möbelfabrikation presented the logical fruition of that original, discreet, fling: objects in which wood dominates over steel and in particular the PS 03 and PS 04 secretaries from Hamburg based design studio Kressel + Schelle.

Essentially the same object – the PS 03 is a wall mounted version, the PS 04 trestled – both secretaries effortlessly combine a solid oak work surface with a sheet steel frame in a very well proportioned and intelligently thought through design to produce elegantly simple yet very refined objects.

And whereas the aesthetic may have altered, what remains very much the same is the focus on usability and a practical functionality. Both secretaries, for example, come with an optional storage box and an optional “electrics” box: the former providing simple drawer storage the latter cleverly hosting a multi-plug and cable organiser.

Although we’ve long been ardent adherents of Müller Möbelfabrikation’s no-nonsense sheet steel furniture, the company’s singular approach to only working with sheet steel, and if we’re honest never actually wanted that to change, the reassuringly familiar way in which they have integrated wood into their programme and the extra dimension the addition of wood brings to the products is for us a clear indication of a company who not only understand their craft but who have understood both the nature of the changes they were making and why the changes were needed.

And that of course makes us curious to see where the next turn will take them.

IMM Cologne 2015 Müller Möbelfabrikation PS 04 Kressel + Schelle

PS 04 by Kressel + Schelle for Müller Möbelfabrikation. In the background the PS 03 wall mounted version.

In addition to presenting the PS 03 and PS 04 Müller Möbelfabrikation also used IMM Cologne 2015 to launch the modular furniture system Modular by Jan Armgardt.

Or better put, re-launch the modular furniture system Modular by Jan Armgardt.

Originally presented at IMM Cologne 2014, Müller Möbelfabrikation and Jan Armgardt have now extended the system and the component units are now available in two heights, four depths, as floor based or wall mounted versions and, and most importantly, with a range of internal drawer, cupboard and shelving options, including new oak modular elements, and thus allowing each and everyone of us to create the unit(s) that fit to our requirements. And to determine how much “nature” we allow into our homes and/or offices.

And although a styling change rather than a design change we were also very impressed with the new RAL “pearl colours” being offered. More metallic, glossier, than the standard RAL colours the pearl colours allow one to enjoy familiar Müller Möbelfabrikation objects such as Delphin Design‘s V44 side table or Wendelin Müller’s RW 106 roll container in a whole new light. Literally.

As we always note in posts about Müller Möbelfabrikation, although a company who do what they do very well and with a high degree of professionalism and an almost innate understanding of what is required, they are not a company who have done or, we imagine, will ever do, anything truly revolutionary.

But then why should they?

Did the revolutionary’s revolutionary Leo Tolstoy not say, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Müller Möbelfabrikation have changed themselves.

And demonstrated that with change comes enrichment.

A few impressions from Müller Möbelfabrikation at IMM Cologne 2015.

5 New Design Exhibitions for February 2015

January 31st, 2015

Much as the hardest move in yoga is unrolling your yoga mat, so to is the most challenging facet about most design and architecture exhibitions actually getting round to visiting them.

Especially when it involves going out into February’s cold air.

The following five however seem well worth the effort.

If unrolling your yoga mat is worth the effort is of course another question. And not one we have any intention of ever trying to find an answer to………………..

Architecture of Independence. African Modernism at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery, Weil am Rhein, Germany

In March the Vitra Design Museum will open their new exhibition “Making Africa. A Continent of Contemporary Design”; by way of a foretaste the Vitra Design Museum Gallery is presenting an exploration of the architecture that developed post-independence in nations such as Zambia, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast or Senegal. Based on a research project undertaken by Basel based architect Manuel Herz the exhibition will present some 50 buildings constructed in the 1950s, 60s and 70s and which according to the curators represent the sense of freedom and spirit of hope which existed immediately following independence: a freedom and spirit which were often accompanied by an economic stability that allowed for the development of fittingly adventurous buildings.

Architecture of Independence. African Modernism opens at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery, Charles-Eames-Str. 2, 79576 Weil am Rhein on Friday February 20th and runs until Sunday May 31st

Architecture of Independence. African Modernism at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery

Accra, Ghana - Independence Square, 1961. (Photo © Manuel Herz, Courtesy of Vitra Design Museum)

Architecture in the Museum. A Fortieth Anniversary at The National Museum – Architecture, Oslo, Norway

Since its establishment in 1975 the Norwegian national architecture museum has not only helped promote an understanding of the role, history and cultural importance of architecture in Norway but has also continually documented the development of Norwegian architecture and collected relevant material. To mark its fortieth anniversary the museum is presenting an exhibition in which they aim not only to explain in more detail how they work, where their focus is and what an institution such as a national architecture museum can offer wider society, but which also aims to explain and explore the development of architecture in Norway over the past four decades.

Architecture in the Museum. A Fortieth Anniversary opens at The National Museum – Architecture, Bankplassen 3, Oslo on Friday February 6th and runs until Sunday April 26th

Architecture in the Museum. A Fortieth Anniversary at The National Museum – Architecture, Oslo

Architecture in the Museum. A Fortieth Anniversary at The National Museum – Architecture, Oslo

Good Design Awards 2014 Exhibition at the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, Athens, Greece

On January 16th 1950 the first Good Design Award exhibition opened at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Conceived by the MoMA New York in co-operation with the Merchandise Mart – a sort of one-stop shopping centre for architects and interior designers – the Good Design Award was the first professionally marketed design award and an event which sought to recognise design which was “… intended for present-day life, in regard to usefulness, to production methods and materials and to the progressive taste of the day.” Initially organised thrice a year – summer/autumn and winter/spring showcases in Chicago followed up by a Christmas “Best of” in New York, the current Good Design Award is an annual award organised by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and in addition to an awards exhibition in Chicago the winning designs are also presented at the Chicago Athenaeum’s outpost in Athens.

The 2014 winners include projects such as the Analog Table by Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen, the NOMOS Metro watch by Berlinerblau for NOMOS Glashütte and Konstantin Grcic‘s Rival Task Chair for Artek

As a general rule we’re not keen on design awards, what however makes the Good Design Award for us so interesting is on the one hand its scale and number of categories, and on the other the fact that many of the Good Design winners are anything but.
Most are. But some aren’t; or at least aren’t according to our definition. The exhibition therefore offers an excellent opportunity to form your own opinions as to what “good design” actually is. Or indeed what “design” actually means, especially in context of the original aims of the Award.

The Good Design Awards 2014 Exhibition opens at the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, 74 Mitropoleos, 10563 Athens on Friday February 6th and runs until Monday April 6th

NOMOS Metro watch by Berlinerblau for NOMOS Glashütte

NOMOS Metro watch by Berlinerblau for NOMOS Glashütte. A worthy winner of a Good Design Award 2014

Fresh Talent at the National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland

As already noted, the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland has designated 2015 the year of Irish Design. Under the banner “Irish Design 2015″ a wide range of events are being organised both in in Ireland and overseas; including the exhibition Fresh Talent being staged at the Irish National Craft Gallery. Focussing on projects realised since 2011, largely student projects or those by recent graduates, Fresh Talent promises projects from across a range of creative disciplines including product design, set design and architecture and as such aims to provide an overview of the current state of creative crafts in Ireland as well as introducing some of the younger, up and coming, protagonists.

Fresh Talent opens at the National Craft Gallery, Castle Yard, Kilkenny on Friday February 6th and runs until Wednesday March 18th

Fresh Talent at the National Craft Gallery

A "Shelf Portrait" by Darragh Casey (Photo Moira O Brien, Courtesy National Craft Gallery)

Pop Art Design at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Espoo, Finland

Although for many Pop Art was, and indeed is, just about bright colours and misappropriating everyday objects to provoke the established art world; for the original protagonists it was more about how one viewed the modern world and how one reacted, or should react, to the evolving and changing nature of society. It should therefore come as no surprise that 1950s/60s design and Pop Art were very closely linked. Premièred at the Vitra Design Museum in October 2012, Pop Art Design seeks to explore the nature of the dialogue that existed between Pop Art and design in the 1950s and 1960s, explain the similarities between the genres and presents the proposition that art and design should be considered as equal partners.

In addition to objects from the original Vitra Design Museum exhibition the Espoo Museum of Modern Art are also promising Pop Art and contemporary design from Finland, thus bringing a regional accent to a global phenomenon.

Pop Art Design opens at EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, The WeeGee Exhibition Centre, Ahertajantie 5, Tapiola, 02070 Espoo on Wednesday February 18th and runs until Sunday May 10th

vitra design museum pop art design

Pop Art Design, as seen at the Vitra Design Museum

DMY Berlin 2015: Back to the Future – New Venue, New Organiser.

January 30th, 2015

For its 13th edition the DMY Berlin International Design Festival will be staged in a new venue and under the auspices of a new organiser.

Neither change coming particularly voluntarily.

The former festival organiser DMY Berlin GmbH & Co. KG filled for insolvency on January 23rd, and the process was formally opened on January 27th.

Given the nature of their business DMY Berlin GmbH was, though committed to the cause, never the most profitable of companies, and ever increasing financial pressure combined with a cut in the subsidy paid by the Berlin regional government for the various international showcases of Berlin design talent organised by DMY Berlin GmbH, ultimately meant that those responsible saw no long-term viability in the operation and thus no option but to file for insolvency.

The rights to the DMY Berlin name and brand have now been taken on by Berlin based agency about:design a.k.a Annett Böhme and Enric Nitzsche, two individuals who both worked in and for the previous organisation team and as such have experience of the event, and perhaps most importantly, the peculiarities of running such an event in a city such as Berlin.

We certainly wish them well and hope they receive the support an event such as DMY Berlin deserves.

Associated with the enforced personal changes, 2015 will also see DMY Berlin leave Tempelhof Airport for the Kraftwerk Berlin event space; a location which features just as much post-industrial charm as Tempelhof – albeit without the expansive airfield on which to wile away a sunny June afternoon.

Organised under the title “Back to the Future” DMY Berlin 2015 promises, in addition to those familiar features that make DMY such an exciting and relevant event, new features including the so-called DMY Lab. If the central exhibition will be accompanied by a broader Berlin Design Week festival is currently unclear. But it is certainly to be hoped that it is.

Similarly open is the future of the DMY Design Gallery, an institution which filled a patently obvious hole in Berlin’s oh-so creative landscape, and the German National Design Award – the Designpreis der Bundesrepublik Deutschland – which for the past three years has been run by DMY Berlin GmbH & Co. KG on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

We’ll keep you updated with more details as and when we get them.

Full details of DMY Berlin 2015, including how to apply, can be found at the festival’s new website,

dmy berln 2015

DMY Berlin 2015: Back to the Future

IMM Cologne 2015: Thonet

January 29th, 2015

If you’re of a certain age, and of a certain background, you’ll be familiar with the Roland TR-808 drum machine.

If not, introduced in 1980 the Roland TR-808 was one of the first programmable drum machines, was, as such, a major influence on the development of electronic music in the 1980s….. and is infamous for sounding absolutely nothing like real drums, far less real percussion.

Consequently, on account of its universally acknowledged auditory failings, the TR-808 was only produced for three years before being replaced by drum machines which sounded like drums.

We were greatly reminded of the story of the TR-808 on seeing the first publicity and press photos of Thonet’s new 808 lounge chair.

If we’re honest, we had our doubts.

Formally very reminiscent of a lot of Scandinavian lounge chairs of the late 50s and early 60s, we feared on viewing those first images that much like the TR-808 did everything a drum machine should do, just not very well, so to would the Thonet 808 physically resemble a lounge chair more than it functioned as one.

We shouldn’t have worried.

We really, really shouldn’t have.

Developed for Thonet by Bavarian design studio Formstelle a.k.a. Claudia Kleine and Jörg Kürschner the 808 lounge chair is not only a remarkably comfortable chair but has a much warmer, more personal, aura than the photos do justice.

Based around a rotation moulded thermoplastic shell the 808 cuts an impressively slight, svelte, figure while the angle at which the lugs have been set allow for a degree of perceived privacy without fully excluding the rest of the room. We suspect they also provide excellent head support should you fall asleep.

IMM Cologne 2015 Thonet 808 Lounge Chair Formstelle

IMM Cologne 2015: Thonet 808 Lounge Chair by Formstelle

A delightfully constructed and intelligently formed object, the only disconcerting aspect for us was the leather toggle protruding from the seat.
We assumed it was some sort of ejector seat-style ripcord and so when a member of the Thonet Design Team suggested we try it out we were a little suspicious.

We know the mischievous sense of humour they have in Frankenberg.

However, you’re only young once. We are no longer, and so having nothing more to lose, we tried it.

The leather toggle activates the reclining mechanism, or better put the synchronisation mechanism – the seat raises slightly as the backrest tilts thus maintaining the sitting comfort.
It did admittedly take us a couple of goes to get the hang of the system, however once we mastered it we were very impressed, not only account of the smoothness of the action but also by the fact that through the toggle one has a reclining lounge chair with no unsightly levers, thus allowing for a much more harmonious aesthetic.

Perhaps just as interesting as the chair itself is the fact that it represents one part of an upholstered furniture collection that Thonet will be rolling out over the coming months.

As we all know Thonet do reduced down bentwood and reduced down bent steel tube furniture very well, and do soft furnishings less so. A state of affairs they are obviously very keen to change.

One could, possibly should, query in how far they have to move into the soft furnishings market, that they are doing so with a coordinated programme rather than individual products is however to be welcomed.
We’ve been promised four further products in Milan. We’ll keep you updated.

In addition to launching the 808 lounge chair Thonet also used IMM Cologne 2015 to present new ash versions of the classic 209, 214, 215 and 233 bentwood chairs – ash, in contrast to the traditional beech, has a more open, expressive surface and so can be used without the, generally, dark stains used on the beech versions, thus giving more prominence to the the natural beauty of the wood. As part of the Thonet “Pure Materials” collection the chairs are also now available with leather seat cushions.

A few impressions from the Thonet stand at IMM Cologne 2015:

IMM Cologne 2015 Thonet relax

Relaxing after a hard fair day in the new Thonet 808 Lounge Chair by Formstelle

IMM Cologne 2015 Thonet Pure Materials

IMM Cologne 2015: Thonet - Pure Materials

IMM Cologne 2015 Thonet coloured bentwood

The colourful world of Thonet bentwood furniture

IMM Cologne 2015 Thonet 808 Formstelle

IMM Cologne 2015: Thonet 808 Lounge Chair by Formstelle