In 1981 Irish stadium rockers U2 noted of October:

“And the trees are stripped bare,
Of all they wear”

That of course was 1981, before the, then approaching but much less tangible, irreversible consequences of climate change meant that the trees in Ireland, and across Europe, still proudly wear their leaves throughout October. A new reality that, we’d argue, may soon see U2 forced to rename the song ‘November’.

A reality, and a coming renaming, that sets the final line of the opening verse:

“What do I care?”

in a new, a troubling, and an important light.

One we all need to think about.

And little stimulates thoughts on contemporary and future society, contemporary and future relationships with the world around us, both the natural and humanmade, and forces a questioning of what we want, why we want it, and if we care, quite like an architecture and/or design exhibition.

Our five recommended new exhibition openings in October 2023 can be found in Chemnitz, Hornu, London, Brussels and Milan…….

In July 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and as Neil Armstrong stepped from the Eagle lunar module he announced it was, “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”.

And inarguably it was. And was.

But what has it brought mankind?

Apart from an awful lot of conspiracy theories. And an ongoing fascination with space that drives the irrational belief that in the 21st century we urgently require everything which appeared in 1950s and 1960s science fiction comics and films in order to have happy, functioning societies.

Yes, it also brought us Gil Scott-Heron’s, ever glorious, and still very relevant, Whitey on the Moon; a work that through it’s continuing, unabated, undiluted, relevance reminds us all how little Apollo 11 has brought mankind.

Other small steps can, we’d argue, be much more meaningful. Can enable longer leaps in more meaningful directions.

Such as the small step into an architecture or design museum; a step that can, will, inform and entertain, can, will, allow fresh insights and perspectives, can, will, cause a questioning and reflection: and thereby, potentially, enable the development of differentiated thoughts and appreciations on the now and on that now still to come. And perhaps in doing so quell a few conspiracy theories. And so allow for the development of a future worthy of the name.

Our five featured short steps for July 2023 can be taken in Stuttgart, New York, Hornu, London and Berlin…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for July 2023

Although the etymology of “April” is lost in the mists of time, one of the more likely, and more satisfying, theories as to its origins is to be found in the Latin verb aperire, to open, which itself can be considered as being, possibly, related to the ancient Greek ἄνοιξις, ánoixis, opening. And thus the very obvious connotations to spring springing forth in April, to the natural world opening for another season.

What is much better recorded are the new architecture and design exhibitions apertio and ἄνοιξις in April 2023. Springing forth in April 2023.

Our five recommendations from those many new springtime blooms can be found in Zürich, Weil am Rhein, Paris, Hasselt and Dresden…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for April 2023.png

Pressures of time meant we sadly couldn’t make any of the Belgian design school graduate shows this past summer; however, the platform MAD Brussels did manage to have a look.

Or did at least look at those design schools to be found in Brussels, and selected from the innumerable graduation projects on show their top ten. An honoured decemvirate subsequently presented in the showcase Graduation Show 2022 at the MAD HQ.

A subjective selection, sure, but then aren’t all selections?

Including our favourites from MAD Brussels’ favourites…….

Graduation Show 2022, MAD Brussels

Just a few short years ago, whereby given the timescales involved one could convincingly argue just a few short hours ago, coal looked very much like yesterday’s resource as the international community, or at least a sizeable part of it, promised to move away from coal and embrace novel fuels.

A commitment to a move away from coal, and fossil fuels in general, that recent geopolitical and economic developments have stalled; have led the international community to move away from their commitment to move away from coal.

A state of affairs which doesn’t change the fact that the global coal supply is finite. That a post-coal future is coming. Sooner or later.

With the exhibition At the coalface! Design in a post-carbon age, the Centre for Innovation and Design at Grand-Hornu provide space for reflection on our various and varied relationships with coal, past, present and (possible) future…….

At the coalface! Design in a post-carbon age, Centre for Innovation and Design at Grand-Hornu, Hornu

“The May of life blooms but once”, reflects Friedrich Schiller, continuing, “It has faded for me”.1

Cheer up Freddie!!!

And there’s nothing quite like a good architecture or design exhibition to revitalise all your faculties.

Our recommended fertilizers for the zest of life in May 2022 can be found in Berlin, Den Haag, Brussels, Pfäffikon SZ and Amsterdam…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for May 2022

Belgium is uncharted territory for us. Not literately, we’re in Belgium fairly frequently. Indeed so frequently that we are often asked why we don’t move to Belgium. Because we’ve been to Belgium, we reply (JOKE!!))

But Belgium is uncharted territory in terms of our annual #campustour: the design school summer showcases in Belgium tending as they do to run parallel to those in London, and that in previous years we’ve had good reason to be in London at that time, we’ve, logically, not been in Belgium. This year ’twas different, we had absolutely no reason to be in London and every reason to be in Belgium, which, yes, does sound like a metaphor. Isn’t, but does sound like one…… And so took the opportunity to visit a trio of Belgian design schools, technically a quartet, but legally a trio……

#campustour 2019: Belgium

Like gardens mottled with the vibrant leaves of autumn, so too is November 2017 bestrewn with a multicoloured carpet of new design and architecture exhibitions. We could have published three such lists, seriously considered it …. have however instead taken the opportunity to bring our monthly recommendations average up to where it should be. Five.

Back in August we only had four new recommendations, and so to compensate summer’s shortfall, here we present six, technically seven. Although it could have been 15.

Which all of course means you, dear reader, have no excuse for not visiting a new design or architecture exhibition, for wherever you may be, there is one opening near you. So get out there and start raking up those leaves exhibitions!!!

5 New Design Exhibitions for November 2017

With the exhibition Panorama. A History of Modern Design in Belgium, the ADAM, Brussels Design Museum present an exploration of design in Belgium from the 1880s until the 1980s: and in doing so not only explain the development of design in Belgium, but provide for new understandings of that development.

"The Golden Age, as seen at Panorama. A History of Modern Design in Belgium, ADAM Brussels

Part of the Wire collection by Muller Van Severen, as seen at Biennale Interieur Kortrijk 2016

On the train down to Kortrijk and the 2016 Biennale Interieur we started drafting this introduction. The talk was of

BuzziJungle by Jonas Van Put for BuzziSpace, as seen at NeoCon Chicago 2016

“The fact that you are European allows you to be quirky. Europe has a great reputation for good design but

Low Chair and Stool by Kaspar Hamacher with Tannerie Radermecker, on the wall Bag on Wall by Mathias van de Walle with Ralph Baggeley, as seen at Belgian Matters, Milan 2016

As we believe is now traditional at this time of year….. ….. every year at Milan Design Week the Belgian

Design Derby Netherlands Belgium Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Mart Stam Thonet Gaston Eysselinck typistchair

“The real jewel of my disease-ridden woodlot is the prothonotary warbler”, confided the American author, ecologist and conservationist Aldo Leopold

Belgium is Design - Confronting the Masters, Milan 2015

As is becoming traditional the interregional initiative Belgium is Design used Milan Design Week to present a showcase of contemporary

At smow we have a particular soft spot for Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and so it is especially pleasing that