Today industrially produced objects are so self-evident and ubiquitous it can be hard to believe there was a time when they weren’t.

There was.

With the exhibition Unique Piece or Mass Product? the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Berlin explores the developments of industrial production in the early 20th century, the discussions and discourses which accompanied those developments and the connections between such developments and the evolution of both formal understandings and the role and function of designers.

Unique Piece or Mass Product?, Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin

Although Bauhaus did undeniably exist, sometimes we could all be forgiven for believing we had collectively imagined it. Not only on account of its ephemerality as an institution, but also because it existed in a period of history that is, generally, a little abstract, intangible, indecipherable for a majority of us. While today the popular image of Bauhaus is so ideal, represents such a utopia and eutopia, it has that tangible feeling of intangibility, of unreality, of something imaginary.

With the exhibition Bauhaus Imaginista the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin aim to allow for a more substantive understanding of Bauhaus.

Bauhaus Imaginista @ the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

Despite what some may have us believe, Bauhaus didn’t appear one morning from the slowly clearing mists of the Ilm valley; rather, and for all its lasting allure, Bauhaus ’twas but a moment on a longer, wider, international helix. One which began its twisting long before Walter Gropius and his merry band arrived in Weimar, and which continues, winding its way ever onwards, to this day.

With the exhibition From Arts and Crafts to the Bauhaus. Art and Design – A New Unity! the Bröhan Museum Berlin explore the helix as it approached and then, briefly, informed Bauhaus.

From Arts and Crafts to the Bauhaus. Art and Design - A New Unity @ The Bröhan Museum Berlin

Although founded twelve years before Bauhaus Weimar, and despite overlaps in personnel and biographies, it would be incorrect to draw a direct line from the Deutsche Werkbund to the Gropius school, even if a line of sorts can, should, be traced between the two institutions.

A line which serves not only to connect the two but to underscore the role both played in the development of contemporary understandings of formal aesthetics in the first decades of the 20th century, and also the influence both retain over contemporary understandings of such a century or so later.

In context of such considerations, the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Berlin are presenting throughout 2019 a series of four exhibitions under the title 111/99. Questioning the Modernist Design Vocabulary and which aim to explore various aspects of the development of, well, modernist design vocabulary.

The start being made with graphic arts and the showcase Commercial Design instead of Applied Art?

Commercial Design instead of Applied Art? @ the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge Berlin

The reason most of us fail to keep most of our New Year resolutions is, mostly, because we either resolve to give up things we enjoy or to do things we don’t.

Which is foolhardy in the extreme.

If you wanted to do more sport, you would.

If you wanted to eat less crisps, you would.

But don’t. And don’t. So don’t.

The wiser choice is to resolve to do more of that which you enjoy, and thereby not only setting yourself an achievable goal but one which through the genuine fulfilment it brings benefits you spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically; therefore, let us all, collectively, promise to visit more architecture and design exhibitions in 2019 than we did in 2018.

Agreed?

Our five starters for January 2019 can be found in Frankfurt, Malmö, New York, Berlin and Stuttgart……………..

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for January 2019

It is seldom that the largest, most centrally placed and intricately staged object in an exhibition isn’t the central focus of that exhibition, but a conduit which introduces and guides the exhibition.

Something you could ignore, but really shouldn’t.

However such is the case with the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin’s new exhibition Inside Out. Understanding the art of furniture making

Inside Out. Understanding the art of furniture making at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin

In our post from the state of DESIGN Berlin curated exhibition VICIS. Always Change a Running System during Munich Creative Business Week 2018 we opined that there was something biographical in the title. Similarly Expertimental Design has overtones of self-reflection. And for all of an unyielding belief in the value, logic, necessity of experimentation in design.

Something also reflected in the 2018 state of DESIGN Berlin showcase.

state of DESIGN Berlin, Expertimental Design

Approaching the 2018 Universität der Künste Berlin Rundgang one was obliged to navigate the weekly antique and flea market that overwhelms the Straße des 17. Juni, and thereby walk, hurry, past untold objects whose ill consideration, self-celebration, kitschiness or plain ugliness confuse, insult, anger and otherwise offend the senses and sensibilities.

An inconvenience, or an omen for that which awaited us……….?

Universität der Künste Berlin, Germany

The Dog Days of summer are with us and, as is traditional, the international curatorial community have removed themselves to the cooler climes of their storerooms, archives and libraries to sit out the heat until autumn’s bracing breeze tempts them back out.

Which, logically, means a great sparsity of new architecture and design exhibitions opening in July 2018.

A sparsity however isn’t a nontity and in four of the world’s cultural and meteorological hotspots one finds exhibition curators more accustomed to the heat and humidity of July……
five new architecture and design exhibitions july 2018

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

According to the German philologist, mythologist, folklorist and definer of the Germanic Umlaut, Jacob Grimm, an old belief states that the Cuckoo never sings before the 3rd of April; and, “should you have money in your pouch when you hear him sing the first time, you will be well off all that year, if not, you will be short the whole year” 1

Much like the cuckoo, our five new architecture & design exhibitions recommendations for April 2018 begin with their songs after April 3rd; and should you have money in your pouch when in their vicinity, and use it to visit one, we can’t guarantee a year of financial wealth, but they all sound like providing not only a couple of hours entertainment, but a lifetime of joy through helping you develop your understanding of architecture and design, and thereby the world that surrounds you….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for April 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.....

By way of an addendum to our 5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for February 2018 post, and arguably also to save us mentioning it every month, February 2018 sees the inauguration of a new design exhibition cycle in Berlin: Design Views, a cooperation between the Internationale Design Zentrum Berlin and the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin initiated with the aim of highlighting contemporary developments, thinking and directions in design.

Design Views Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin Internationale Design Zentrum

While Georges-Eugène Haussmann is associated with the radical and unrestrained, Atelier Haußmann prefer the understated and reserved. Yet applied with the same level of conviction, self-confidence and appreciation of a well considered line.

Following a couple of years absence 2018 saw Atelier Haußmann return to IMM Cologne….

Atelier Haußmann @ IMM Cologne 2018

Whereas exhibitions featured in these pages are normally still in the first flush of youth, having recently enjoyed their vernissage and thus making their first public appearance, the presentation of Two German Architectures 1949-1989 at the Technische Universität Berlin is much more a finissage.

After a 13 year, 26 city, global tour, the exhibition has, in many regards, come home to retire.

Two German Architectures 1949 - 1989 @ the Technische Universität Berlin

As any fule kno, an echo requires a surface off which to reflect.

Otherwise it is just shouting into the void.

With the exhibition Echoes – 100 Years in Finnish Design and Architecture at the Felleshus, Berlin, that reflective surface is the traditions, cultures and landscapes of north-east Europe.

Echoes - 100 Years in Finnish Design and Architecture @ Felleshus, The Nordic Embassies, Berlin

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

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

“What are you going to do this summer, Amory?”, Tom D’Invilliers asks of Amory Blaine in F Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise.

“Don’t ask me”, comes the somewhat languid reply, “same old things, I suppose. A month or two in Lake Geneva — I’m counting on you to be there in July, you know — then there’ll be Minneapolis, and that means hundreds of summer hops, parlor-snaking, getting bored…..”

Sorry Amory, but you’ll have to survive the magnificence of Lake Geneva on your own, would have been our response. We’ve got new design and architecture exhibitions in London, Berlin, New York and Holon to visit!

But we’ll definitely catch up with you afterwards in Minneapolis for a bit hopping and parlor-snaking…….

5 New Design Exhibitions for June 2017

Until Sunday June 4th state of Design, Berlin 2017 is presenting projects from over 80 international creatives, supported by films, lectures and workshops, in the Vollgutlager in Berlin-Neukölln.

Viewing the 2017 edition it occurred to us there is a lot of charming ambiguity about the name state of Design, Berlin…….

Folding Chair Arena by students from the Inside interior architecture masters course at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague. The main discussion forum at state of Design Berlin 2017

Inaugurated in 2016 state of Design Berlin is a festival which seeks to explore the experimental, critical, social character of design as much as present the industrial and commercial: and by extrapolation explain not only that design is all these things, but that the various aspects of design’s character needn’t be contradictory, far less conflicting or contrary.

The 2017 edition of state of Design Berlin opens on Thursday June 1st

state of design berlin 2017

With the exhibition Much More Than One Good Chair. Design & Society in Denmark, the Danish Embassy in Berlin present an exploration of the evolution of design in Denmark since 1945. And by extrapolation of the evolution of society in Denmark since 1945.

Much More Than One Good Chair @ Felleshus Berlin

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

While it’s hard to feel anything even vaguely resembling joy in a month which sees the UK start its senseless and cowardly, withdrawal from the European Union … life goes on!!

Our five top distractions for April 2017 features new design and architecture exhibitions in Berlin, New York, Paris, Dessau and Milan.

Thingness. Noun. [ˈthiŋ-nəs] The quality or state of objective existence or reality1

Thingness. Exhibition. [ˈthiŋ-nəs] A comprehensive Jasper Morrison retrospective currently on show at the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin.

Jasper Morrison. Thingness @ Bauhaus Archiv Berlin