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…….
For all that shops are places where design of all types is bought and sold, as the exhibition On Display. Designing the shop experience at Design Museum Brussels helps elucidate, throughout the past 150ish years shops have been both microcosms and drivers of architectural and design positions.
If one so will have been display windows for contemporary architecture and design as much as for the goods they purvey…….
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…….
Autumn is once more upon the Northern Hemisphere, that season of not only “mists and mellow fruitfulness”, but as a John Keats also reminds us the season of harvest, be that vine fruits, apples, gourds or hazelnuts.
Or the architecture and design exhibitions Keats didn’t mention. If, to be fair to him, they would have been largely unknown in 1819.
Unlike today; a today where after a long summer of waiting patiently, of observing from afar, and hoping, autumn traditionally presents a bountiful crop of new showcases to be consumed with gay abandon. And with plentiful thanks for the unseen work that led to their creation.
And Autumn 2022 is no exception. After a summer of growth and development and careful tendering the global architecture and design museums are once again brimming and overflowing with fresh, invigorating, nourishing delights to suit all tastes.
Our pick of the new crop in October 2022 can be found in Paris, New York, Brussels, Helsinki and Rome…….
“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…….
As here in the northern hemisphere winter cedes to spring, not only is nature once again reawakening from its long repose but so too is the international museum community; and that, one senses, with more vigour than in the most recent springs where the Covid pandemic induced upsetting of the established order of the museal ecosystem, through both enforced closures and fundamental disruptions of essential exhibition development processes, dimmed somewhat the promise of the annual spring blush.
In spring 2022, one sense from wandering through the global museum landscape, the vitality, and for all variety, has returned to that landscape.
Which is to be welcomed, for little is as effective in helping us all broaden our minds, expand our perspectives, appreciate unseen associations, free us from prejudices, develop as human beings and as members of a functioning society, than a good museum exhibition. For while a good TV programme or a good podcast can inform, they tend to do so in definitives and in an unyieldingly linear fashion: they tell, they know, just how things were, are, will be. And in their telling tend to leave you bereft of tools of your own. A good museum exhibition in contrast gives you information but primarily bequeaths you a framework in which to develop your own understandings and positions, to question, to challenge, to expand on that which is presented; ’tis but a invitation to let your mind wander as it sees fit. And that in an environment which is devoid of time and space, where you are free to jump about as you wish, go back, rush forward. Stop.
Start again somewhere else
noiɈɔɘɿib bɘɈɔɘqxɘnυ nɒ ni ɘvoM
Discover new, uncharted, paths.
Thus whereas you can leave a TV programme or a podcast with new information on the subject at hand; you can leave a well organised exhibition not only with new information on the subject at hand, but with your thoughts immersed in a completely different subject and with your mind stimulated, receptive, restless.
And broad, receptive, questioning, unihibited, objective minds freed of definitives are very, very, important at this moment in global (hi)story.
Thus, get thee to an exhibition!
Our five recommendations for exiting the space-time continuum in April 2022 can be found in Essen, Brussels, Stockholm, Linz and Helsinki…….
“It was one of those March days” reflects Philip “Pip” Pirrip in Great Expectations, “when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade”.1
And thus exactly the sort of dithering, indecisive, capricious, March day when rather than surreptitiously rowing down the Thames towards Gravesend, one should seek refuge in the consistent climate and warming intellectual atmosphere of an architecture or design exhibition.
Our five Great exhibition Expectations for March 2022 can be found in Weil am Rhein, Brussels, Wolfsburg, Vienna and Ulm…….
In 1956 the Dutch electronics conglomerate Phillips asked Le Corbusier if he would be interested in designing their pavilion for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels.
Le Corbusier was.
Albeit, “je ne ferai pas de pavillon; je ferai un Poème électronique avec la bouteille qui contiendra“, “I will not create a pavilion; I will create a Poème électronique with the bottle to contain it.”1
And a pavilion/bottle/Poème électronique which offers an apposite starting point to approaching a differentiated image, a differentiated composition?, of Le Corbusier…….2
Following the declaration of the French Republic in 1792 a new calendar was introduced in the realms of France: the Revolution had washed away France past and the Republic marked the start of a new reality for mankind, one of universal Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, and therefore demanded a resetting of the collective clock, a new measuring of time, and thus out went the Gregorian calendar and its historic associations with church and state, and in came le calendrier républicain, the French Republican Calendar.
And while, yes, one can consider the belief amongst the new republicans in the eternal gloriousness of the coming future as somewhat naive, one must remember that we can reflect on their optimism with the benefit of over 200 years hindsight and experience.
The argument for a new calendar appears however as compelling and self-evident as it must have done at its adoption on October 24th 1793. Or 3 Brumaire II, as we believe le calendrier républicain would date the day of its adoption.
Aside from its ten day week, an early attempt at bringing decimalisation to our time keeping, and the bequeathing of every day its own unique name, the principle difference between the Gregorian and Republican calendars is the move from the 12 months of varying lengths inherited from the Romans to twelve months each comprising thirty days, three ten day weeks, and the renaming of the months to give them a connection to nature rather than to Romans: the period between 19/20th February and 19/20th March, that period in which we find ourselves at the time of writing, being known as Ventôse, from venteux, windy, and was preceded by Pluviôse, rainy, and followed by Germinal, germination
Which all strikes us as particularly apposite as we move towards the next phase of our post-pandemic society; as a fresh wind blows the global rain clouds away and ushers in a period of re-birth and springing forth. Yes, such optimism may be as naive as that of the French revolutionaries, but we have a much better understanding of history today, and for all a much better understanding of the sense and logic in, utter necessity of, making use of the myriad lessons of history in order to avoid the pitfalls and follies of the past, and to allow us to chart an untroubled course forward……oh…..hang on……
Although, now is as good a time as any to start. The theory is known, we just need to move into the practice. And so given that all nations and all peoples have had their Corona tribulations should we not think about re-setting our global clocks, starting afresh at a new global year zero for a new global society?
We’ll leave others more qualified than us to work out the practicalities and technicalities, and decide on the basis of the nomenclature, and instead recommend here four new exhibitions scheduled to open in Germinal CCXX, and thus, one hopes, once the winds of Ventôse have begun to do their job, and also recommend a radio station that’s been online since the rains of Pluviôse….
“Last night the waiter put the celery on with the cheese, and I knew that summer was indeed dead”, opined once A.A. Milne, continuing that, while there may be other indications of autumn’s arrival, “it is only with the first celery that summer is over.”
And the first celery appears, or at least appeared in early 20th century England, in October.
Not that one should fear the celery, for in its crispness, freshness, tenderness, sweetness celery, so A.A. Milne, reminds us that winter isn’t only about the cold, wet, dark and dreary, but is a season which brings its own pleasures and joys, is a season of “crisp and sparkling days, long pleasant evenings, cheery fires” and to which we’ll add lingering visits to architecture and design exhibitions. Our recommendations for new showcases opening in October 2020 can be found in Munich, Milan, Rotterdam, Philadelphia and Brussels.
And as ever in these times, if you do feel comfortable about visiting any museum, please familiarise yourself in advance with the current ticketing, entry, safety, hygiene, cloakroom, etc rules and systems. And during your visit please stay safe, stay responsible, and above all, stay curious….
“Here’s to October—and, waiter, some more celery.”1
“What August dosen’t do, September puts right”1 declared Johann Wolfgang Goethe.
And loathed as we are to contradict Goethe. He’s wrong.
August may be a time when one can allow oneself a little more freedom than the rest of the year; however, that which we call life is the actions, experiences, leanings, emotions of each month consecutively and sequentially building on, informing and evolving one-another, a month of inactivity is a month of moments missed, and hoping that September can in some form rectify for a laxness in August is wishful thinking.
And this year not particularly sensible: for as we all understand, that which we don’t do in August may come back to bite us in September.
Thus, on this occasion, ignore Goethe, and use August wisely, sagely and as a chance to get more out of September. And subsequently get more out of October. November. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Our five recommendations for meaningful things to do in August 2020, apart from regular hand washing, keeping abreast of local developments/advice and maintaining mutual respectful relations with those around you, can be found in Tallinn, Brussels, Malmö, Amsterdam and Berlin.
And as ever in these times, if you are planning visiting any museum or exhibition, please familiarise yourself in advance with the current ticketing, entry, safety, hygiene, cloakroom, etc rules and systems. And during your visit please stay safe, stay responsible, and above all, stay curious….
July is traditionally a slow month for new architecture and design exhibition openings. July 2020 less so. Not because of any fundamental changes in understandings amongst architecture and design museums of when is a good time to open an exhibition; but because owing to Corona many shows scheduled to open in the spring had to be postponed, not least until the museums were allowed to open.
And throughout July 2020 ever more museums are planned and planning to open; meaning ever more architecture and design exhibitions are planned and planning to open throughout July 2020.
And thus, while our physical travel options may still be limited, our (potential) cerebral and cultural travel spheres continues to expand, and that is never a bad thing.
If you do feel comfortable about visiting a museum, and are physically allowed to do so, as we will never tire of saying in these trying of times, please familiarise yourself in advance with the current ticketing, entry, safety, hygiene, cloakroom, etc rules and systems.
And during your visit please stay safe, stay responsible, and above all, stay curious….
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……
The Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was (reportedly) the opinion that, “in art there are only fast or slow developments. Essentially it is a matter of evolution, not revolution.”
A position one, arguably, could apply to all expressions of contemporary culture and society.
And a position the exhibition SPACES. Interior design evolution at the ADAM Brussels Design Museum explores in context of domestic interiors.
“Beware the Ides of March” Julius Caesar was, allegedly, advised by the soothsayer Spurinna. And he probably wished he had. March 15th seeing his death at the hands of some 60 Senators, a death which led to civil war as opposing forces sought to control Rome’s destiny.
“Beware the 5th of the Calends of April” a modern day Spurinna would no doubt warn the good folks of the United Kingdom. March 29th looking as it is like being an equally fateful day.
But while Caesar could have taken steps to prevent his demise, the fate of the good folks of the United Kingdom is out of their hands, they must wait and see what an ideologically driven group of some 60 Conservative
Senators MPs have in store…….
And while we all wait, what could be more enriching than that which helps set the temporality of politicians’ decisions against the irrepressible force of social and cultural evolution; a force parliamentarian laws can delay but never stop, and a truth one finds elegantly mirrored in architecture and design.
Our five recommendations for new exhibitions opening in March 2019 can be found in Frankfurt, Brussels, Chemnitz, London and Magdeburg.
Staged in context of Intersections, ADAM Brussels Design Museum’s biennale programme, Design Generations explores not only the work of designers of differing generations, but for all design that remains relevant across generations……
Everything should be Ecodesign, opines the tag line to MAD Brussels’ exhibition Buy Now, Pay Later.
And while we are, arguably, (at least a little) further advanced in terms of ecological, sustainable, design thinking than we were a generation ago, we still have a long way to go.
Buy Now, Pay Later highlights some of the areas where we could do better…….
While for most locations a design week is sufficient, Brussels takes a whole month. We’ve never asked why, just assume it is because in the bi-lingual Franco-Dutch city where everything has to be repeated twice, thrice when one considers the more or less obligatory English required for the large diplomatic community in the de facto European capital, everyone is just used to things taking a little longer and plan accordingly.
Whatever the reason, throughout September Brussels is playing host to a wide variety of design events, events reflecting various definitions, understandings and degrees of design, and over the next couple of weeks we’ll bring you some of those projects which particularly caught our attention, starting with an exploration of nature that while presenting unmistakable parallels to Brussels’ Art Nouveau heritage, couldn’t be further removed.
If academics are to be believed, which admittedly seems unnecessary given the wealth of irrefutable facts available on Twitter and Facebook, February has always been a short and flexible month.
Initially non-existent – the contemporary January and February being once considered an indivisible “winter” – when the Romans decided to extend their calender, February was deliberately left shorter than all other months, largely for accounting purposes, that is, to allow it to be adjusted as the solar calender dictated. And nobody has seen fit to rectify that situation.
Nor do we.
And so maintaining this tradition, our 5 new architecture and design exhibition recommendations for February 2018 features but four……..
With his two faces the Roman God Janus looks simultaneously forward and backwards, standing in constant watch over transitions, the passage of time, beginnings, ends.
The easy connection to make is with January, that month of the year when we are invariably reflecting and hoping in equal measure: the more complex connection to make is with a well-crafted architecture and design exhibition, one which effortlessly links reflections of the past with proposals, visions and excitement for the future. Nothing existing as it does in isolation. And everything requiring a transition.
Our five gatekeepers for January 2018 can be found in San Francisco, Brussels, Basel, Milan and Cologne.
Back in June 2016 we included the Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch’s exhibition Nacho Carbonell – On the Origin of Pieces amongst our five new architecture and design exhibition recommendations, noting that, for us, the exhibition appeared to offer “an excellent opportunity to, finally, get to know the man and his work. And for all to understand his cocoon constructions, works which terrify us as much as they fascinate us.”
We sadly never did make it to On the Origin of Pieces; however, the exhibition Living Organisms at the Horta Museum Brussels offers an equally good, if slightly less fulsome, opportunity to achieve the same.
Whereas other cities get by with a design week, Brussels has a whole month: which shouldn’t be taken as an indication Brussels is four times more design than say Milan, Eindhoven or Vienna.
It just takes its time. Doesn’t rush. It is Belgium after all ……
For Brussels Design September 2017 MAD Brussels is hosting Belgitude & The New Belgians, two exhibitions of contemporary product design curated by the federal platform Belgium is Design.
One of our standard claims is that whereas Dutch designers, generally, work conceptually, Belgian designers, generally, realise much more practical projects.
With the exhibition Occupation:Designer MAD Brussels present a small snippet of contemporary Brussels creativity, yet a presentation broad enough to convincingly contradict our position. And serve as a warning of the inherent dangers of sweeping generalisations.
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.
In northern hemispheres June marks the start of both astronomical and meteorological summer.
In southern hemispheres June marks the start of both astronomical and meteorological winter.
The one rejoices, the other laments …. and we don’t even notice, far too busy as we are perusing architecture and design exhibitions. Our five recommendations for June 2017 features new shows in Den Haag, Frankfurt, New York, Leipzig and Brussels.