While Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is arguably best known for the works he realised in the (mid-)west USA, the works he realised in west(ern) Germany are no less relevant or important for understanding the man, his work and his legacy.
Summer 2019 saw the western German State of Nordrhein-Westfalen host three Mies van der Rohe exhibitions, one each in, and devoted to Mies’s works in, Aachen, Krefeld and Essen. Three exhibitions now united in one in Cologne, and which as a unified trio not only provides for a very concise overview of the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Nordrhein-Westfalen, but also of both the development of Mies van der Rohe as an architect and, in many regards, the wider developments in understandings of architecture and design in the course of the 20th century.
The 6th edition of LuForm Aachen is being staged, as the title succinctly implies, in conjunction with the Reciprocity Design Triennale, an event nominally based in the Belgian city of Liège but which, and as with LuForm, integrates creatives and creative institutions from across the Meuse–Rhine Euroregion. And therefore a most logical and natural cooperation
As an exhibition LuForm 6 also reflects one of the principle themes of Reciprocity 2018: fragility.
Whereby, if the exhibitions in Liège primarily discuss practical considerations on fragility, then the presentation in Aachen is much more concerned with speculative, theoretical, abstract, artistic considerations on the same.
We’ve spent so much time walking alongside canals on this #campustour we’ve started to feel less like dashing thoroughbreds and more like plodding, monotonous, if honest, loyal and sedulous barge ponies.
There are, as far as we are aware, no canals in Aachen, yet, and much like those city’s who owe their existence to canals, Aachen owes its existence, and name, to its waters: the thermal springs arising in the city meaning that since Roman times the peoples of the region, and from further afield, have visited to take the aquae, the waters, from which over High Middle German one arrives at Aachen.
We arrived at Aachen with a train from Cologne. But would the works on show at the FH Aachen summer exhibitions soothe our tired, aching sensibilities much as thermal springs soothe tired, aching muscles? And would it put that much missed spring back in our step………
As with all creative professions, design is something into which one grows, where over time your position to it develops and evolves until such time as you reach a place where you are comfortable with what you are doing and why. Sure one starts of under the impression you understand design, the wise quickly realise they don’t, step back, reconsider, listen, observe, reconsider, experiment, listen, observe, reconsider, experiment and slowly but surely form their own position to and understanding of design, ultimately arriving at Bob Dylan’s realisation that “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”
An important, though not necessarily essential, step on that process is design school, a place for experimentation, observation, discourse and statics, and a place to come into contact experienced designers of various hues: consequently, when out and about on our #campustour we not only explore the student projects and consider underlying themes and priorities, but also speak to those responsible for design education, including Helmut Jakobs, who for neigh on three decades guided design students at the FH Aachen.
Aachen is famous for its Cathedral, its Rathaus, as a sedes regia, Royal seat, and coronation location of Germanic monarchs for 600 years, and its confectionery.
But for its design?
The network Designmetropole Aachen aim to change that, through both promoting the work of Aachen based designers in exhibitions and events, and also through being a network, a variagted structure in which local creatives support local creatives. Among Designmetropole Aachen’s current projects is as co-curators of the exhibition LuForm – The Design Department at the Ludwig Forum Aachen, an exhibition which has just received its fourth Update.
To find out more about LuForm, and creativity in and around Aachen, we met up with Designmetropole Aachen co-initiator Fabian Seibert.
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…….?
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.