Phenomeneon by Pieke Bergmans, part of Dream out Loud opens at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Photo Mirjam Bleeker, courtesy Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)
August 1st, 2016 by smow

Such are the vagaries of the autumn/spring cycle in the global design exhibition industry, and it is an industry people, let’s not fool ourselves otherwise, August is traditionally a very lean month: curators are on holiday, critics are on holiday, exhibition designers are on holiday, protagonists are on holiday. Who wants to open an exhibition?

The following five museums. That’s who……….

“Dream out Loud” at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland

Whereas museum exhibitions generally begin with the posing of a question and/or the establishing of a position before the curators select objects with which they hope to explain their position and/or approach an answer to their question, the exhibition Dream out Loud at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam began with a call for projects. For objects. Not because the curators couldn’t think up any interesting questions, but because that was the question: what is currently happening in Dutch design, who is moving in which direction, what ideals are being promoted, which positions represented.

According to the museum some 400 designers responded to the call, submitting 750 proposals from which the international jury selected 26. Featuring works from designers as varied as, and amongst many others, Marjan van Aubel, Pieke Bergmans and Dirk van der Kooij, the curators promise an exhibition which presents the selected designers’ visions as to how we can create a better, more sustainable and fairer world. It also promises to be a fairly thorough review of contemporary Dutch creativity.

Yes, one could argue that because the displayed projects have been selected by a jury they represent the subjective opinion of that jury as to what is interesting, relevant, good, contemporary in contemporary Dutch design; or put another way, represent objects with which the curators hope to explain their position and/or approach an answer to their question……

Dream out Loud opens at the Stedelijk Museum, Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam on Friday August 26th and runs until Sunday January 1st

Phenomeneon by Pieke Bergmans, part of Dream out Loud opens at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Photo Mirjam Bleeker, courtesy  Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)

Phenomeneon by Pieke Bergmans, part of Dream out Loud opens at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Photo Mirjam Bleeker, courtesy Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)

“TBI: The Youth, the City and the Heritage” at the Museum of Architecture and Design, MAO, Ljubljana, Slovenia

The German singer Herbert Grönemeyer is famously of the belief that “The world belongs in childrens’ hands”, but how would that work out practically in terms of architecture and urban planning? Focussing on the results a project undertaken in the western Slovenian town of Idrija, The Youth, the City and the Heritage promises to provide insights into how the local youth can be engaged to participate in what the organisers refer to as “bottom-up urbanism” as well as potential points of conflict in such an approach. In addition to the exhibition an important component of the event promises to be the associated talks and lectures in which the results and conclusions will be discussed and debated in more depth, and thus potential lessons for other communities elucidated and exchanged.

TBI: The Youth, the City and the Heritage opens at the Museum of Architecture and Design, MAO, Grad Fužine, Pot na Fužine 2, 1000 Ljubljana on Wednesday August 10th and runs until Sunday September 25th

TBI: The Youth, the City and the Heritage at the Museum of Architecture and Design, MAO, Ljubljana

TBI: The Youth, the City and the Heritage at the Museum of Architecture and Design, MAO, Ljubljana

“Occupied” at the RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne, Australia

As any fool know, our growing global population needs ever more space. The space we have is however limited, and as moving to other planets is, currently, not feasible we need, with increasing urgency, sustainable ideas for safely, securely and healthily housing the future population. And for all for housing future urban populations. The exhibition Occupied at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Design Hub takes the position that the all-encompassing, clean sheet, start-anew city planning approaches of previous centuries are no longer compatible or viable with and in our integrated contemporary cities, and instead presents proposals from international architecture practices focussing on adapting, transforming and re-appropriating existing urban spaces; small scale interventions in the urban fabric which, if you will, think between the lines of the existing city and which thus seek to find new solutions and new answers. And which one would presume are universally applicable.

Occupied opened at the RMIT Design Hub, Building 100, Corner Victoria and Swanston Streets, Carlton, 3053 Melbourne on Friday July 29th and runs until Saturday September 24th

Occupied" at the RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne, Australia

Occupied at the RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne, Australia

“Rudolph M. Schindler’s Inaya Furniture” at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Vienna, Austria

Even we are going to struggle to make this sound like an exhibition….. it’s four pieces of furniture. A dinning table, a chair, two chests of drawers…….

Born in Vienna in 1887 Rudolph M. Schindler was a student of Otto Wagner’s at the city’s Akademie der bildenden Künste before moving to Chicago in 1914 where he worked with Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition to being a bridge between the early stages of European and American Modernism, Rudolph Schindler was also an important, if regularly overlooked, protagonist in the movement’s subsequent blossoming: works such as the Schindler House from 1922, the El Pueblo Ribera Court from 1923 or the Lovell Beach House from 1926, and all in California, may not be universally known, but set new conventions in terms of materials, construction principles and geometry.

Similarly Rudolph M. Schindler’s furniture design work goes very much its own way: on the one hand completely inaccessible and alienated, Schindler’s furniture nonetheless manages to appear very familiar, almost calming, a state of affairs we attribute to the fact they contain elements of the traditional, the classic and the familiar, just presented in forms that are anything but.

The so-called Inaya Furniture is a collection of objects created by Rudolph M. Schindler in the late 1940s for Los Angeles resident Beata Inaya, nine pieces of which belong to the MAK Vienna permanent collection – a dining table, a dressing table, four chairs and three chests of drawers. Quite aside from the formal and construction peculiarities of the pieces a particular highlight is the way Schindler worked the surface with a wire brush to focus attention on the grain. Four pieces of furniture may not constitute an exhibition. Do however constitute a fascinating insight into the work of Rudolph M. Schindler, his views on form, function and aesthetics, and also the undeniable truth that a piece of furniture is no more a piece of furniture than a poem is a poem, a painting a painting or an opera an opera.

Rudolph M. Schindler’s Inaya Furniture opens at the Museum für angewandte Kunst, Stubenring 5, 1010 Wien on Wednesday August 3rd and runs until Sunday August 28th

Rudolph M. Schindler, Chair for Beata Inaya's apartment in Los Angeles (Photo Georg Mayer, courtesy MAK Wien)

Rudolph M. Schindler, Chair for Beata Inaya’s apartment in Los Angeles (Photo Georg Mayer, courtesy MAK Wien)

“Textile Art at Burg Giebichenstein in the 1920s” at the Kunstverein Talstrasse, Halle, Germany

That a central tenet of the education philosophy at “modernist” schools of the 1920s such as Bauhaus and Burg Giebichenstein Halle was the connection between art and craft, it should come as no surprise that textile and carpet design have a long tradition in eastern central Germany. Staged as part of “Große Pläne”, the region wide celebration of modernism in Sachsen-Anhalt, Textile Art at Burg Giebichenstein in the 1920s promises an exploration of not only that claimed in the title, but also an expansion to Burg’s near neighbour Bauhaus: a not illogical extension given not only the information and idea exchange that invariably occurred between the two institutions but also the personnel exchanges, Benita Koch-Otte, for example, training in the Weaving Workshop at Bauhaus Weimar before transferring to Burg Giebichenstein in 1925 to take over the Weaving Workshop.

In addition to looking at regional textile art from the 1920s the exhibition at the Kunstverein Talstrasse also promises examples of more contemporary carpet design work by the French artist Jean Lurçat and thereby an exploration of the influence Lurçat’s work had on designers in post-war eastern central Germany, and potentially still has today. And thus, ideally, continuing the story of textile design in the region from the 1920s until today.

Textile Art at Burg Giebichenstein in the 1920s opens at the Kunstverein Talstrasse, Talstraße 23, 06120 Halle (Saale) on Thursday August 11th and runs until Sunday November 20th

Liegende Wolle,  1924,  by Johanna Schütz-Wolff, part of Textilkunst an der Burg Giebichenstein in den 1920er Jahren (Image Nachlass Schütz-Wolff Courtesy Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau)

Liegende Wolle, 1924, by Johanna Schütz-Wolff, part of Textilkunst an der Burg Giebichenstein in den 1920er Jahren (Image Nachlass Schütz-Wolff Courtesy Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau)

Posted in 5 New Design Exhibitions, Architecture, Designer, Exhibitions and Shows Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

The sideboard and chair designed by Paul Thiersch for the Weissenhofsiedlung Stuttgart, as see at Moderne in der Werkstatt - 100 Years Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle, Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle
November 16th, 2015 by smow

As we noted in our post celebrating Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle’s 100th birthday, one of Paul Thiersch’s first initiatives upon taking charge of the Handwerkerschule Halle, the future Burg Giebichenstein, was to establish workshops to connect art and trade and thus properly prepare his students for the demands of the emerging industries. It is therefore only fitting that to round off the institution’s centenary celebrations an exhibition should be being staged celebrating the tradition and importance of the workshops at Burg Giebichenstein.

The colour scheme created by Burg Giebichenstein for the BMW factory in Leipzig, as see at Moderne in der Werkstatt - 100 Years Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle, Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle

The colour scheme created by Burg Giebichenstein for the BMW factory in Leipzig, as see at Moderne in der Werkstatt – 100 Years Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle, Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle

Presented under the title Moderne in der Werkstatt – Modernism in the Workshop – the exhibition is being staged at and by the Kunstmuseum Moritzburg as a form of birthday present for their near neighbour and close collaborator.

Featuring a selection of projects undertaken by students from various Burg Giebichenstein workshops as communal commissions Moderne in der Werkstatt begins chronologically with a look at the Burg Giebichenstein puppet theatre and the importance of the Burg puppet shows before moving effortlessly over projects such as the Burg’s contribution to the Weissenhofsiedlung Stuttgart, the development of the MDW furniture programme, the collaboration with the Mifa bicycle factory in Sangerhausen or the sadly long since demolished Halle-Leipzig Airport restaurant created under the leadership of Hans Wittwer between 1929 and 1931. Fans of childish civic rivalries and hurt municipal pride will appreciate the significance of the airport’s subsequent name change. The exhibition finishes with an interior architecture project undertaken with and for the BMW factory in Leipzig in 2012 and a mock up of the Burg Giebichenstein library where visitors can peruse books from and about Burg Giebichenstein and watch a film made by students focussing on the contemporary Burg Giebichenstein workshop experience.

That Moderne in der Werkstatt ends in a mock up of the Burg library is more than just an exhibition design curiosity; rather, as the curators and university are keen to underscore for them “workshops” aren’t just where one saws, welds, sculpts, paints or photographs, but more generally where ideas are realised. Intellectually as well as physically. And in that sense a library is also a workshop, as indeed is any location where creatives take the opportunity to express themselves.

A recreation of a lamp designed for Halle-Leipzig airport by Karl Müller, as see at Moderne in der Werkstatt  - 100 Years Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle,  Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle

A recreation of a lamp designed for Halle-Leipzig airport by Karl Müller, as see at Moderne in der Werkstatt – 100 Years Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle, Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle

As befits a birthday celebration there is no real attempt in the course of Moderne in der Werkstatt to analyse the past 100 years, just celebrate some of the high-points and thus the value that the institution, its staff and students have realised.

There is, for example, no attempt to explore why the Burg survived the Nazi years when just fifty kilometres down the road Bauhaus fell, nor any real attempt to ask how the institution survived the formalism debate in the early 1950s nor the subsequent relationship to the East German government. As ever we’d have preferred a slightly more critical examination of the 100 years, fully accept and understand however that Moderne in der Werkstatt is a celebratory birthday event and as such can allow itself to revel rather than analyse.

If we did have one genuine criticism however it would be the relative lack of people to be found in the exhibition. An institution is formed by the students and teaching staff who fill it not the bricks and mortar from which it is constructed, and as such it would have been good to have celebrated some of the protagonists in more depth. Not least because when all is said and done a birthday is better celebrated with friends and those who have accompanied you through life rather than with your memories alone.

If we did have a second complaint it would be that there is no real attempt to place the work of Burg Giebichenstein in context of its time. The chair and sideboard, for example, which Paul Thiersch developed for the Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart are by themselves perfectly reasonable pieces of work; however, understood in context of what Mies van der Rohe, Mart Stam, Marcel Breuer et al were presenting in Stuttgart they look positively 19th century.

We don’t have a third complaint.

Moderne in der Werkstatt - 100 Years Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle @ Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle

Moderne in der Werkstatt – 100 Years Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle @ Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle

Unlikely to overtax in terms of size or depth Moderne in der Werkstatt has a very agreeable breadth and provides an excellent overview of some of those projects which have helped make Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule what it is and as such provides an excellent introduction to the institution and its (hi)story.

In particular the mix of free art, classic art, product design and interior design that has always been a feature of the institution comes through very well; a not irrelevant point when one considers current debates about the hazy borders between design and art in our contemporary world of author design, design galleries and Eindhoven.

As we’ve often written in these pages for us Halle is Vienna, just under a very, very heavy layer of dust.* However, look more carefully, beyond the dust and disrepair, and you will discover a wealth of architecture and urban planning heritage, including a wealth of modernist works and interpretations. Yet these are all things one can far too easily overlook. Similarly Burg Giebichenstein is all too easy to overlook, Moderne in der Werkstatt explains why you shouldn’t.

Moderne in der Werkstatt – 100 Years Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle runs at the Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Friedemann-Bach-Platz 5, 06108 Halle (Saale) until Sunday February 14th. Full details, including information on the accompanying fringe programme can be found at

*We appreciate that yes there was a very easy connection to make between the Wiener Werkstätte the shift from Art Nouveau to Modernism and back to the Halle Werkstätte. But that was too easy. We have standards. Not very high, But standards.

Posted in Airport design, Architecture, Exhibitions and Shows Tagged with: , , ,

Burg Giebichenstein Halle
July 1st, 2015 by smow

“I intend to run the institution such that in terms of craftsmanship the best possible is achieved, and to foster it so that from an artistic perspective it meets all the requirements of modern conceptions of art”1, so wrote the architect Paul Thiersch in his 1914 application for the vacant post of Director of the Handwerkerschule in Halle, Germany.

An argument which clearly found favour with the Hallesche selection panel, for on July 1st 1915 Paul Thiersch was selected ahead of the 74 other applicants2 and pronounced the school’s new Director, an appointment which began the process that ultimately led to the current Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle.

Burg Giebichenstein Halle

Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle

Born in Munich in 1879 into an established family of architects and classicists, Paul Thiersch studied architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Munich and worked for the city’s building office before in 1906 he moved first to Düsseldorf to take up a position with Peter Behrens and subsequently in 1907 to Berlin to assume the role of office manager with Bruno Paul, a post he held for two years before leaving to work as a freelance architect in Berlin.

In 1913 the serving Director of the Handwerkerschule Halle, Herr Brumme, died, and the authorities in the city decided that the new Director should be charged with not only leading the school, but leading the school into the future.
By all accounts the state of technical and craft education in the German Empire at the beginning of the 20th century was, quite frankly, awful: not just in terms of content but also organisation, direction and professionalism. With industrialisation changing the nature of production the majority of German students weren’t being taught the necessary skills to allow German industry to master the new era, a situation which arguably helped establish the term “Made in Germany” as the byword for poor quality it was at the time. And thus although butchers and bakers were still very much required, the real need was candlestick-makers, and for all those candlestick-makers who could design candlesticks suitable for industrial production.

According to Katja Schneider, Halle’s Mayor, Robert Rive, was keen on offering the post the Henry van der Velde3, however his return to Belgium scuppered that plan and so the position was advertised. According to Schneider a major influence on the decision to appoint Paul Thiersch was the lobbying of the local architect Gustav Wolff4, a man responsible for many important projects in the city at that time and an important figure in the local arts and crafts community. Other sources refer more generally to the influence of Peter Behrens and Bruno Paul on the decision, or at least to the decision being influenced by Thiersch’s associations with Behrens and Paul.

Regardless of why the decision fell in Thiersch’s favour, once ensconced Paul Thiersch immediately set out his promised reforms and as early as August 1915 presented his plans, including dividing the school into four departments: applied arts, handicraft, architecture and mechanical engineering5. Important in this context is that whereas the other three departments were simply a new organisation of existing departments the applied arts department was new and in addition to teaching students was devised to allow students to receive practical training in the daily reality of the new industries they were planning to enter, and thus connect teaching with work, something, which, as Thiersch noted in his original application, all new arts and crafts schools practised to great effect. In addition Thiersch introduced specialist classes run in combination with practical workshops, thus the school soon had an interior design and architecture class with a carpentry workshop, a textile class with weaving workshop and a graphics class with workshops for bookbinding and printing, thus further reinforcing the connection between art and trade.

Consequently, although the Halle school was by no means unique in the nature of its educational programme, it did now have a contemporary structure and a future focussed emphasis which would allow it to become a leading educational institute and an important component in the improvements and advances in both German manufacturing technology and the arts.

Then, and not for the last time, war intervened, and although Thiersch’s work continued and his reforms moved forward, it wasn’t until the 1920s that they began to bear fruit, for all through the school’s move to the historic Burg Giebichenstein castle, “high” above the River Saale*; a move which gave the students more space and new freedom, and the school a new identity, and ultimately a new name.

Throughout the 1920s and 30s, the “Burg” built on its reputation and no important fair or exhibition was complete without Burg Giebichenstein, including a representation in context of the 1927 Weissenhofsiedlung exhibition in Stuttgart, a rare honour for a non-Bauhaus, non-Baden-Württemberg institution. In addition the 1920s and 30s saw works by students and staff from Burg Giebichenstein regularly presented in museum exhibitions and Hallesche works entered ever more permanent collections.

Following Bauhaus’ move from Weimar to Dessau in 1926 and the associated loss of the ceramic workshop and changes in the teaching programme, numerous Bauhäusler switched to Halle, most notably the sculptor Gerhard Marcks who initially served as head of the sculpture class in Halle before in 1928 he replaced Paul Thiersch as Director of Burg Giebichenstein.

One era was at an end, but another stood before.

burg giebichenstein halle burg

The inner court yard of Burg Giebichenstein, Halle

The NSDAP’s seizure of power was famoulsy accompanied by attacks on artistic freedom, strict doctrines on artistic forms, and controls on the idealogical content of teaching, consequences which meant that following an ordinance from June 2nd 1933 the handicraft and art sections at Burg Giebichenstein were separated6, a move which destroyed the principle on which Paul Thiersch had built the school, while the Nazis restrictions on “non-Germans” led to the institution losing many of its most important staff members including, amongst others, Erich Dieckmann, Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain, Erwin Hahs, Benita Koch-Otte and Gerhard Marks. Thus in the course of 1933 Burg Giebichenstein, effectively, ceased to be.

Throughout the years of Nazi dictatorship and war the school’s activities were largely curtailed and the school was run as a normal handicraft school, or at least according to the Nazis understanding of such.

And then came the DDR, and the replacement one totalitarian regieme with another.

The years immediately following the war were marked by a slow rebuilding and reorganisation, a process complicated by the problems and uncertainties of the so-called Formalism Debate in the early 1950s, before in 1958 the Hochschule für industrielle Formgestaltung Halle Burg Giebichenstein was established under the leadership of the graphic designer, and Bauhäusler, Walter Funkat. Very much an institution of its age the DDR Burg was geared and focussed towards supporting the industrial demands of the East German government, or as a 1968 in-house publication notes, “social responsibility demands that our university raises and educates a new type of socialist form-giver who is able and willing to use their comprehensive knowledge and skills in their profession for the advancement of socialism”7

Despite such highfalutin socialist nonsense and the bureaucrats who propagated and encouraged it, between 1958 and 1989 Burg Giebichenstein managed to produce some genuinely excellent students and works, a fact largely due to the high-quality of the teaching staff employed, including, amongst many, Erwin Andrä, Rudolf Horn, Ilse Decho or Lothar Zitzmann; and in many ways it is as a consequence of the conscientious work undertaken as the Hochschule für industrielle Formgestaltung that post-unification the Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle was initially able to survive as a functioning educational institute and subsequently establish its current international reputation and for all its position as one of the leading design and applied arts schools in Germany.

And so while the appointment of Paul Thiersch as Director is and was just one moment in the story of the development of Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle, we feel justified in marking July 1st 1915 with a resounding, Happy Birthday Burg Giebichenstein!

And here’s hoping the next 100 years are a little less turbulent!

* It may only be 87 metres, but that’s high for Halle.

1. Quoted in, Katja Schneider, “Burg Giebichenstein: die Kunstgewerbeschule unter Leitung von Paul Thiersch und Gerhard Marcks 1915 bis 1933. 1. Textband”, VCH, Acta Humaniora, Weinheim, 1992

2. Wilhelm Nauhaus, “Die Burg Giebichenstein Geschichte einer deutschen Kunstschule; 1915 – 1933”, Seemann, Leipzig, 1992 (Other sources quote 76 applicants…..)

3. Katja Schneider, “Burg Giebichenstein: die Kunstgewerbeschule unter Leitung von Paul Thiersch und Gerhard Marcks 1915 bis 1933. 1. Textband”, VCH, Acta Humaniora, Weinheim, 1992

4. ibid

5. Wilhelm Nauhaus, “Die Burg Giebichenstein Geschichte einer deutschen Kunstschule; 1915 – 1933”, Seemann, Leipzig, 1992

6. Gottfried Kormann, Meisterschule des deutschen Handwerks. Die Schule zwischen 1933 und 1945, in Renate Luckner-Biehn, “75 Jahre Burg Giebichenstein: 1915 – 1990; Beiträge zur Geschichte”, Burg Giebichenstein, Halle, 1989

7. Hochschule für Industrielle Formgestaltung Halle/S., Burg Giebichenstein, Halle 1968

Burg Giebichenstein Halle

We’re not sure if Paul Thiersch would approve. But we do. Design as a way of thinking perfectly demonstrated at Burg Giebichenstein Halle, 2011

Posted in Bauhaus, Design Calendar Tagged with: , ,

Burg Giebichenstein Halle
January 6th, 2015 by smow

As any fool know, Germany’s most important contribution to art, architecture and design education was established in Weimar in April 1919.

However, some three and half years before Walter Gropius welcomed the first students to his Bauhaus college, a further Germanic education institution was established, an institution which just as with Bauhaus took a new, modern, progressive, approach to art, design and architecture education yet an institution which in comparison to Bauhaus is still teaching, still researching, still pushing boundaries and still producing talented designers and artists, rather than just memories of what was.

Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle emerged from the town’s Gewerbliche Zeichen und Handwerkerschule – Commercial Drafting and Trades School – and owes its transformation to the appointment of architect Paul Thiersch as Director on July 1st 1915.

The scion of a prominent architecture and artistic dynasty Paul Thiersch was born in Munich in 1879 and following completion of his studies in Basel and Munich took up positions as office manager with first Peter Behrens in Düsseldorf and subsequently Bruno Paul in Berlin, thus bringing him into contact with two of the most influential architects of the period and two of the guiding lights behind the German Arts and Crafts movement.

A member of the Deutscher Werkbund Paul Thiersch transformed the teaching in Halle according to the progressive principles of the Werkbund and for all the association’s focus on finding a harmonic relationship between modern industrial production and traditional craft trades. Moving craft and art education on from its hitherto genre specific basis, Thiersch introduced a multi-facted, all encompassing teaching programme featuring courses as diverse as painting, sculpture, architecture, textiles, photography, ceramics, book design and dance. At that time a genuinely revolutionary approach to design, art and architecture education and one that was recognised in 1927 when a group of Burg Giebichenstein students under the leadership of Paul Thiersch were invited by Mies van der Rohe to create the interior of one of Peter Behrens’ flats at the Weissenhofsiedlung exhibition in Stuttgart.

As with any 100 year old institution based in the north eastern quarter of Germany, Burg Giebichenstein’s history is one of dictatorship upon dictatorship: Under the Nazi regime many of the school’s most prominent teaching staff were forced to leave and the education programme was placed largely under state control. Under the DDR regime many of the school’s most prominent teaching staff were forced to leave and the education programme was placed largely under state control.

Despite such restrictions Burg Giebichenstein has continually managed to retain its reputation for excellent teaching staff, challenging courses and for producing high quality graduates, and as we recently noted currently counts, at least for us, amongst the more interesting design schools in Germany.

The first event in Burg Giebichenstein’s centenary celebrations is and was the exhibition “The Power of Making” which runs until February 1st at the Wasserschloß Klaffenbach in Chemnitz, and over the coming twelve months an extensive programme of events is planned starting with an exhibition of the best 100 Burg Giebichenstein posters at the institution’s own gallery in Halle and continuing over, for example, explorations of the development of book design, textile design and ceramics at Burg Giebichenstein, a series of symposia and, and perhaps most fascinating, an exhibition featuring works by the plethora of architects, artists, designers, weavers, potters, et al who have served as Burg Giebichenstein Professors over the past 100 years.

Full details will, eventually, be available at

Burg Giebichenstein Halle

As a wise man once said: Design is a way of thinking, not a profession. Students and Professors from Burg Giebichenstein Halle continually prove that. As demonstrated by this door holder from 2011................

Posted in Architecture, Exhibitions and Shows, smow blog compact Tagged with: ,

Die Burg verbindet Burg Giebichenstein 2014 Carry Me by Miriam Bunte
July 21st, 2014 by smow

24 hours after Hella Jongerius crossed our paths at the Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin Rundgang 2014, and 48 hours after finding ourselves in the same corridor as Axel Kufus at the Universität der Künste Berlin Rundgang 2014, Stephan Schulz cycled past us as we walked to the 2014 summer exhibition at Burg Giebichenstein Halle.

Its just the way we rock. Sorry…….

As we’ve noted before Halle should be Vienna. It’s certainly a much more attractive, imposing and interesting city than its near neighbour, and current global media darling, Leipzig.
But Halle is covered by layers of dirt and dust. Untouched, untroubled even, by the investment and hope of German unification. And so is easily, and regularly, ignored.

The one exception is Burg Giebichenstein College, an institution which over the years has cleaned up, renewed, refreshed, dusted itself down and which today is one of the genuinely more interesting design schools in Germany.

As the 2014 student summer showcase nicely demonstrated.

As is expected at Burg Giebichenstein the product and industrial design presentations largely concentrated on the results of numerous seminars from the past year, and largely presented “products” in comparison to the much more theoretical and conceptual works seen, for example, at the two Berlin schools.

Five projects in particular caught our attention….

Bamboo+ by Toshiki Yabushita

Bamboo has long been a popular material for designers. Back in the 1940s Charlotte Perriand famously attempted to utilise bamboo to help invigorate the Japanese design industry, while today bamboo with its inherent strength and ease of cultivation is a popular research material for designers looking for new ways to furnish our world. For his final year project thesis Toshiki Yabushita looked at a different aspect of bamboo; namely using bamboo charcoal to absorb odours. That active charcoal can be used to neutralise odours is not new; however, with bamboo charcoal one has, as Toshiki Yabushita’s project charmingly depicts, a readily accessible, sustainable source of charcoal that can be easily added to other materials to create environmentally friendly odour eliminating objects. Among the products on display at the Burg Giebichenstein showcase were, for example, a bin lid and items of clothing with integrated bamboo charcoal. All in all a very nice project and one which offers a lot of room for further development.

Die Burg verbindet Burg Giebichenstein 2014 Bamboo+ by Toshiki Yabushita

Bamboo+ by Toshiki Yabushita, as seen at Die Burg verbindet 2014 Burg Giebichenstein Halle

Carry Me by Miriam Bunte

We must have visited the room in which Carry Me by Miriam Bunte was being displayed at least 500 times before ultimately deciding that we really did like it. Initially we thought: just carry your bike! Grab it by the frame and carry it! But that is often easier said than done, or perhaps better put involves more time and effort than the situation requires. Often you just need to quickly negotiate a small step or other irksome hurdle. The simple genius of Carry Me is that it allows anybody to pick up and carry their bike with just one hand. Quick. Painless. Efficient. And presented as it is as a nice leather band it is a feature that adds value to the contemporary bicycle.

Die Burg verbindet Burg Giebichenstein 2014 Carry Me by Miriam Bunte

Carry Me by Miriam Bunte, as seen at Die Burg verbindet 2014 Burg Giebichenstein Halle

Hallway storage unit by Alexander Köppel

As with Carry Me we spent a lot of time trying to decide if we liked Alexander Köppel’s otherwise unnamed hallway storage unit. Before deciding we did. Our biggest problem with the unit is that it is, in our opinion, too deep, takes up more space than most modern flats and houses can afford. We know why its as deep as it is, understand why it is as deep as it is, just feel it needs to be less deep. And modular. Every owner of such a unit will have different requirements, as such to be a truly useful, interesting and dare we add, successful product it needs to be more modular. Which yes all sounds as if we didn’t and don’t like it. But we do. Very much.

Die Burg verbindet Burg Giebichenstein 2014 hallway storage unit by Alexander Köppel

Hallway storage unit by Alexander Köppel, as seen at Die Burg verbindet 2014 Burg Giebichenstein Halle

Lichtkörper – Objekts mit Light

Sadly there are obviously still elements within Burg Giebichenstein who believe that the world is full of evil forces just waiting to steal any design that crosses their path. And so banned photography in the showcase of works from the class Lichtkörper – Objekts mit Light.

Sadly, for two of the projects on display were genuinely fantastic and worthy of a wider audience.
Which they are sadly now denied.

Yes we could describe what they were, of what materials they were made, how they functioned, what the advantages and disadvantages were and present detailed sketches of them. Or we could have taken a photo and expressed our delight at the creativity that led to such results.

Those who steal and copy design steal and copy those ideas with which they can make a profit. Which in the world of product design is, as a general rule, objects for which there is an existing market. There, for example, weren’t any copies of Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s Bauhaus Lamp before Tecnolumen produced it. Now there are thousands. If not millions.

The plagiarists aren’t interested in the quality of the design. Just the insatiable market of customers who have no interest in the quality of the objects they buy, but who simply want to furnish their homes with objects they recognise and associate with possessing a certain quality. A quality they’re not prepared to pay for because its all about the image. Cultural semantics if you will.

I own a Bauhaus lamp therefore I am.

New concepts aren’t interesting because no thief is going to invest money in building up a market for such. Especially not the money required to develop a vaguely functioning student project into a market ready product that, ultimately, may not sell.

That would be stupid. And plagiarists aren’t stupid. Just immoral.

There are however an awful lot of hard-working, honest furniture and lighting manufacturers out there looking for new impetus, new ideas, new talent with whom to co-operate. With whom to develop new projects, markets and genres.

And such people far out number the crooks.

Die Burg verbindet Burg Giebichenstein 2014

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, Product Tagged with: , ,

Milan Design week 2013 Galleria Viafarini Magic Moments Inside
April 10th, 2013 by smow

Those Milan Design Week visitors brave enough to venture north of Garibaldi Station, yes there is civilisation up there, will be rewarded by an exhibition that demonstrates just how easily architecture, art and design can co-exist without threatening one another’s integrity.

Design, architecture and art combined in a borderless display of unity, tolerance and respect. Which sounds like a nice response to the current political situation in Italy. It isn’t meant as such, but….

Milan Design week 2013 Galleria Viafarini Magic Moments Inside

Milan Design week 2013: Galleria Viafarini. Magic Moments Inside

Magic Moments Inside at Galleria Viafarini combines the talents of students form Burg Giebichenstein Halle and ALAD Laboratories, an experimental design studio and research-unit based at the Politecnico di Milano, and is presented as being an exhibition featuring works of design, photography, architecture, applied arts and video by students of both institutions.

It is.

And there doesn’t appear to be any other link between the objects on display. No common thread to guide you round the room. No “theme”

Just the objects.

Consequently, as an exhibition Magic Moments Inside does place an awful lot of responsibility on the visitor in terms of investigating the background to the works, the context of their creation, even the names of the responsible creatives.

But as with so much in life: the more effort you apply, the greater the ultimate satisfaction.

Burg Giebichenstein are presenting a mix of new works and some, almost, historical artefacts; works such as Jecket by Ilja Oelschlägel or Comfy Cargo Chair by Stephan Schulz appear to have been around almost as long as we have. Don’t get us wrong we’re not complaining, far from it. Comfy Cargo Chair for example, is a product we believe in as much now as we ever did. Similarly Jecket. And we’re delighted to see them in Milan, not least because it means their creators have not given up on them. Or at least the curatorial team behind the exhibition haven’t.

Among the, for us, newer works those that particularly caught our attention included SWEDG by Lisa Maria Wandel, just the cheekiest way to transform your Eames side chair into a RAR, or indeed any chair into a rocker, and Ninetynine by Till Ronacher –  a collection of 99 paper toasters. And as such an inescapable criticism on the modern consumer product industry. And so by extrapolation an inescapable criticism of Milan Design Week.

Milan Design week 2013 Galleria Viafarini Magic Moments Inside

Comfy Cargo Chair by Stephan Schulz and the Living Tools Lamp from Yi-Cong Lu @ Magic Moments Inside

ALAD is an abbreviation of Architecture and Land Ambient Design, the works from the students are however not as strictly limited as the institutes title implies and in addition to presentations of architectural concepts and models there are also a wonderful series of grotesque, miniature scenographies.

Grotesque as in eerie, perverse, sureal, delightful, captivating.

If we’re honest we didn’t note any of the names. Apologies. Our fault.

However as soon as we have them we will let you all know.

Or if you are in Milan go and visit for yourself.

In addition to the exhibition the organisers have conceived a fairly exhaustive fringe programme featuring food, music and every day at 5pm: a nice cuppa tea.

Magic Moments Inside isn’t the only exhibition in Milan offering a daily tea break, a much more established, genre defining, international conglomerate has had a similar idea.

Magic Moments Inside is however the more sympathetic location. And in our view the only one of the two worth visiting.

You will discover something new.

Which, as we all know, isn’t always the case in Milan.

Magic Moments Inside can be viewed at Galleria Viafarini, via Carlo Farini 35, Milan, from 11am to 9pm until Sunday April 14th 2013.

Full(ish) details can be found at

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, Fuorisalone, Fuorisalone Milan Design Week, Milan Design Week Tagged with: , ,

An unidentified chair - a regukar sight on the Burg Giebichenstein Halle campus
August 11th, 2011 by smow

Following our visits to the Bauhaus University Weimar, Fachhochschule Potsdam, Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee and  Universität der Künste Berlin the final stage of our 2011 summer tour was Burg Giebichenstein Halle.

It may just be us, but we are firmly of the belief that Burg Giebichenstein students complete more, and more varied, seminars than students at any of the other schools we visit.

At least based on the presentations at their end of year show.

Be it designing record sleeves, creating items based on the characteristics of fruits/vegetables or designing the lamp that Isamu Noguchi would design if he were still active today – every room of every building seems to house at least one exhibition.

If not two.

Among those that most caught our attention were “eine Bank für zwei” and “Bodenreform”

Eine Bank für zwei set students the challenge of designing a bench for two prominent “creatives” – be they designers, architects, musicians, actors, whatever. The aim being that the benches should represent both the character’s of the users and their relationship to one another in the form language and material choice.

A lovely little project that allowed the students the chance to explore how they understand the work and character of those people they have as references, which should then help them improve their own  techniques.

And allowed us the chance to enjoy the results.

Aside from delightful solutions for Gerrit Rietveld and Charles Eames or Konstantin Grcic and Dieter Rams the highlight for us was Elias Betka’s bench for Charles and Ray Eames: a double seater RAR. An idea that not only blew our socks off, but much more got us thinking about in how far Vitra can – or perhaps better put would – ever consider further developing the work of the Ray and Charles Eames.

Elias Betka's bench for Charles and Ray Eames, Burg Giebichenstein Halle 2011

Elias Betka's bench for Charles and Ray Eames, Burg Giebichenstein Halle 2011

Although Bodenreform was officially concerned with floors, floor-coverings and exploring the role of such in architecture and design, the project from the seminar that most appealed to us didn’t really seem to fit the remit.

As far as we could see.

A fact which of course didn’t detract from the genius of Hobo by Julian Heckel.

Reminiscent of some Victorian adaption of a painters easel for wandering poets, Hobo is, for us, a small table that folds flat to be carried as a backpack, and when opened can be lent against a tree or other free standing structure.

And used to help you ease your tortured soul by comparing your rejected love to a chaffinch struggling to open seed. Or similar

There is also a small seat. That didn’t appeal to us so much.

The table however is a delightful piece of work.

Elsewhere we really liked Ausgewachsen by Annika Marie Buchberger – with one small proviso.
Created for her masters thesis Ausgewachsen is a series of kids furniture where different elements can be placed on a universal base.

Nice idea, well executed.

Except as far as we could see the base comes in three sizes – and the legs aren’t exchangeable. Which means if you want to vary the heights of the objects, you have to have all three bases.

For us the better trick would be to have interchangeable legs.

Our view, and not one that distracted from our enjoyment of the project.

Another child centred project – and there were a lot of them on show, not sure if Halle is a particularly child heavy town or if Burg Giebischenstein students are just particularly fertile – was Igi by Constanze Hosp.

Igi by Constanze Hosp, Burg Giebichenstein Halle 2011

Igi by Constanze Hosp, Burg Giebichenstein Halle 2011

Parents wanting to travel with a young baby on a bike are limited to a trailer. Or the somewhat risky business of a conventional, body hung, child carrier.

Igi is in essence a hard case child carrier that allows you to cycle with your child securely strapped to your chest.

And not just cycling. Also for travelling in over crowded public transport Igi gives new parents that little bit more security an confidence.

Despite the many highlights at the Burg Giebichenstein exhibition one irritation did cloud our day – where was the product design Graduate show?

OK we’d already seen it at DMY, but had still arrived in Halle looking forward to getting a second chance, and maybe a little more time, to explore some of the products.

But high and wide there was neither sign of the Graduate show nor any one who could direct us to where it was.


However despite that fact the 2011 Burg Giebischetsein exhibition was a more than fitting end to our summer tour – and set us us up nicely for our Autumn marathon.

As is traditional we’ve created  a small facebook gallery at

And can anyone help us identity this ⇓ ?

An unidentified chair - a regukar sight on the Burg Giebichenstein Halle campus

An unidentified chair - a regular sight on the Burg Giebichenstein Halle campus

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, smow campus tour Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

June 30th, 2011 by smow

Many of you will no doubt remember our summer tour 2010.

We’ll it’s that time of year again.

Our 2011 summer tour kicks of on July 7th with the semester show at the HTW Dresden – the first time we’ve visited their show. We don’t know why, we just feel we should go.

Then on July 14th we’ll be in Thüringen for the opening of Summaery 2011 at the Bauhaus University Weimar, Friday July 15th is Potsdam and the annual end of year show at the Fachhochschule.

Then, as ever, its gets complicated.

The weekend of 16th/17th July sees the annual shows at the Universität der Künste Berlin, KH Weissensee Berlin and Burg Giebichenstein Halle.

For us the interesting aspect of such shows is less the graduation projects – as a general rule we’ve seen them at other design weeks – but the projects of those students just starting on their journeys….

We’ll bring you all the best and most inspiring results here.

Posted in Exhibitions and Shows, smow, smow campus tour, Summaery Tagged with: , , , ,

The opening of the Burg Giebichenstein Exhibition 2010
July 23rd, 2010 by smow
Summar tour 2010 review

(smow)summer tour 2010 review

Although very short the (smow)summer tour 2010 was certainly worth the effort.

Its always worth the effort to visit an annual exhibition at a design school. Our primary focus was, logically, the product and industrial design work, but we did also take the opportunity to visit the other departments. And wherever one goes and whatever one views, you will always find something that strikes a chord or otherwise inspires you.

Often in the most unexpected departments.

Which is why we can always recommend such an exhibitions.

Lacking the creativity to come up with our own format for a quick “end of season summary”, we’ve stolen that from the Universität der Künste 2nd semester “Design-Grundlagen” course. Sorry, we’ve let ourselves be inspired by the Universität der Künste 2nd semester “Design-Grundlagen” course

All time-favourite – What we liked best:

Aside from an ingenious project in Weimar which we sadly cannot discuss, photograph or mention – it is however brilliant, and remember where you just about heard it first – the best moment of the summer tour came at the very end as we sat in our ICE back to Leipzig and let the experiences of the past four days mix with one another. The seagulls head in Weimar, the cafe at the UDK Berlin, the 3D photography at Burg Giebichenstein, the bath in Weimar, the stage design at Weissensee, the candles at UDK, the porcelain newspapers at Burg Giebichenstein, the prototypes at Weissensee, the humourless, hairless, neckless bouncers at Burg Giebichenstein. Sounds like a cliche, is a cliche but it was lovely.

Personal Disaster – What I want to avoid in the future:

The opening of the Burg Giebichenstein Exhibition 2010

The opening of the Burg Giebichenstein Exhibition 2010

The Burg Giebichenstein “Exhibition Opening”. We left the Volkspark Gallery at 7pm after having viewed the art exhibition around 20 times: and as it was clear that nothing other than chummy backslapping was likely to happen. As we headed home the que outside wound its way through the garden. No entry for the public before 7:30 – despite the alleged 6:30 opening.

6.30 of course being for the invited Halle VIPs, but why bother telling the public that.

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. As it were.

So a badly organised and for all badly marketed “Exhibition Opening” is simply unacceptable and not something we’re daft enough to repeat.

Next year we’ll just have to fit Burg Giebichenstein in on the Saturday or Sunday; because Burg Giebichenstein is worth the trip and remains one of our favourite design colleges

The college website will sadly remain the unusable, “Emperor’s New Clothes 2.0” that it is – because no one will have the bravery to bin it – but we know that the students will continue to be well taught and to produce work of a high standard. And that’s what interests us. Not the champagne and finger food.

Whack on the head – When the penny dropped:

The Palast der Republik in Berlin opend in 1976. We suspect that was also the last year the UDK Berlin was renovated.

The Palast der Republik in Berlin opened in 1976. We suspect that was also the last year the UDK Berlin was renovated.

Less a penny dropping per se and more the realisation of the huge funding differences in German design education.  As we strolled round the Bauhaus University Weimar campus one of our party could be heard repeatedly muttering ” Its all been paid from our taxes!” And indeed the buildings were, in general, immaculate and we didn’t get the impression much attention had been paid to the costs when renovating. We believe its called a “Prestige Project”.

The Unviversität der Künste in Berlin remains locked in 1976. Not only is that the last time we suspect the corridors of the design department in Strasse des 17 Juni were painted; the building smelt like educational establishments smelt in 1976. And not just the buildings. The workshops at the Kunsthochschule Berlin Weißensee had modern machines, but not in the numbers that Weimar can boast.

The choice of which design school you visit is largely based on the course on offer and the teachers/professors with whom you will learn. That said just because you would rather study industrial design in Berlin with Professor Axel Kufus rather than Product Design with Professor Heiko Bartels in Weimar, doesn’t mean you should be expected to put up with worse conditions. Or retro-aromas.

The schools themselves aren’ the problem, rather those who organise ther funding. Obviously we don’t have a solution for the problem, co-operations with commercial partners may help finance individual classes, but are no long term solution.

That was the (smow)summer tour 2010

The autumn tour 2010 will take us to Copenhagen, London, Vienna and Brussels.

But more later.

Posted in smow campus tour Tagged with: , , ,

July 20th, 2010 by smow

“Exhibition Opening on Friday 16. Juli Volkspark Halle”

We admit we didn’t actually check what Burg Giebichenstein understand by “Exhibition Opening”

Didn’t really see the need.

We just wish we had.

Because everywhere else “Exhibition Opening” means the exhibition is opened.

Even the Magdeburger Volksstimme understands it as such.

However “Exhibition Opening” at Burg Giebichenstein means a private awards ceremony for an invited audience of Local VIPs cleverly packaged as a public “Exhibition Opening”.

Combining an awards ceremony with the opening of an annual exhibition is a genuinely wonderful idea: But when the awards ceremony is given a higher priority than the students work then someone somewhere has got their priorities very wrong.

Awards ceremonies don’t make a design college, the students and their creativity do.

During the awards ceremony the Burg Giebichenstein Rector Ulrich Klieber spoke of his “pride” that the college was so well rooted in the local community: The looks of disbelief and disappointment on the faces of those barred from entering the building sadly didn’t mirror his pride.

Why couldn’t all those who were forced to wait outside the Volkspark Gallery have been given the opportunity to explore the other departments – before returning to the art and fashion shows once the champagne had been quaffed?

And when one has so many important members of Halle society at the college, why not give them the chance to explore the rest of the departments?

Or is it expected that those who come on Friday evening will also comeback on Saturday or Sunday?

The Rector also spoke of the importance of the Design Haus Halle. There sit those Burg Giebichenstein graduates who can fulfill interior design, corporate branding, layout, furniture design or promotion film contracts for those institutions and companies represented at the awards ceremony. Thus keeping the money in the region and helping promote the creative industries in Halle.

One of the goals of the Design Haus Halle project.

But not if the Design Haus is closed on one of the highest profile evenings in the academic year.

Most ironic for us is that on the Friday morning we’d had a wonderful discussion with the IHK Halle-Dessau about, amongst other things, the importance of establishing the idea of “Design Halle” in the consciousness of both the citizens of Halle and the wider public.

First the impractical and barely usable new website then a private party packaged as an “Exhibition Opening”. Burg Giebichenstein, there are easier and cheaper ways to alienate your public. We just don’t know why you would want to.

That almost all design schools in Germany choose to hold their annual shows on the same weekend, the “Opening ” was our only opportunity to enjoy the work of the Burg students.

And we almost always discover a real gem in Halle.

But much more importantly an annual show is a chance to see, assess and understand what the students are learning, how they are approaching their tasks and what form the teaching is taking.

Guess we’ll just have to wait until next year.

And yes next time we’ll check in advance if the “Exhibition Opening” really is such.

There are no photos on (smow)flickr.

And then on Saturday it was off to Berlin and the Universität der Künste Rundgang 2010.

Posted in smow campus tour Tagged with:

Foam soft pad chair by Stephan Schulz
July 20th, 2010 by smow

Name: Stephan Schulz

Born: Schwerin, 1983

Alma mater:
2003-2009  Industrial Design, Burg Giebichenstein, Halle
2007-2008 Erasmus studies at the Design Academy Eindhoven

Internships: 2008 Bellini Design Studio, Milan

Stellvertreter for Nils Holger Moormann, Aschau im Chiemgau
Concrete bowl series “frisch ausgeschalt” for Betoniu, Leipzig

Stephan Schulz

Stephan Schulz

(smow)blog: Why Industrial Design?
Stephan Schulz: It sort of just developed. I’ve always built things and experimented with different materials, and everything somehow came together. I’ve always had this need to create things and to work with objects.

(smow)blog: Any particular influences on your development?
Stephan Schultz: As a designer you are always influenced, much of it subconscious. I think its fair to say that my generation, at least here in Germany, has been influenced by Konstantin Grcic. Although in design influences are necessarily always positive. The first time I was really aware of design was Bauhaus, especially the work from Mies van der Rohe. But I honestly couldn’t hold one person up as an influence.

(smow)blog: Why did you decide to study at Burg Giebichenstien?
Stephan Schulz: It was one of the first colleges I applied to. I passed the test, the school has a good reputation and the town itself appealed to me.

(smow)blog: You are now finished with your studies, have taken up a studio here in Design Haus Halle, do you plan to remain here in Halle?
Stephan Schulz: Initially yes. On the one hand here I have the opportunity to use the college workshops, and on the other if I was to go elsewhere I would never find a studio as cheap as here in the Design Haus. Also here I have my network of contacts which at this stage in my career makes everything much simpler. That said I’m not permanently fixed to Halle, not least because I’m not from here.

Stellvertreter by Stephan Schulz for Moormann

Stellvertreter by Stephan Schulz for Moormann

(smow)blog: You are still at the start of your career, but what is the highpoint thus far?
Stephan Schulz:
I really am at the very beginning, but the highpoint is definitely the coat rack from Moormann [Stellvertreter]. I completed my degree three months ago and last year during my studies brought a product on the market with a producer. And yeah that is the highpoint.

(smow)blog: And how did your concrete bowl end up in the Vitra Design Museum Exhibition “The Essence of Things. Design and the Art of Reduction”?
Stephan Schulz: Martin Hartung, one of the Vitra Design Museum curators saw it in another exhibition, liked it and included it. [laughs] Sometimes it really is that simple.

(smow)blog:When we think about your concrete bowl, on your clay panels or your wood and china articles. Do you like working and experimenting with different materials?
Stephan Schulz: Definitely. I couldn’t specialise on just one material and say I’m only going to work with china, or I’m only going to work with concrete. For me that is the most interesting on industrial design, that you can go in any direction and experiment as and when you want.

(smow)Blog: And in general, where do you see your future?
Stephan Schulz: I have specialised on furniture and interior products and want to develop in that direction. I don’t want to just make individual objects, I also want to create products for series production.  As a designer you have the need to show that what you create works, also in terms of producibility. That the market is currently over saturated many designers are currently going in a more artistic, experimental direction. It’s part of the job and often the first step, but my goal is to bring products to the market that people are happy to buy.

Concrete bowl by Stephan Schulz for betonui

Concrete bowl by Stephan Schulz for betonui

(smow)blog: In that context, as a young designer, how do you reach producers?
Stephan Schulz:It’s difficult. I don’t really know. Obviously you go to exhibitions as the principle method of exposing your work to the public, but it is very difficult. With Nils Holger Moormann I showed him the product and he liked it. Which is obviously the perfect scenario. But such is also the exception, and the next 10 times it wont work.
It’s a long hard road. And the biggest problem is that there is no marked paths. No one can tell you how you should proceed or how you should approach a producer. It’s a long hard road.

(smow)blog: Then good luck!

More information on Stephan Schulz can be found at at

Cargo Chair by Stephan Schulz: An empty frame you can fill according to mood and situation

Comfy Cargo Chair by Stephan Schulz: An empty frame you can fill according to mood and situation

Foam soft pad chair by Stephan Schulz

Foam soft pad chair by Stephan Schulz

Porcelain jugs by Stephan Schulz

Bone china jugs by Stephan Schulz

Tischlader by Stephan Schulz

Tischlader by Stephan Schulz

Posted in Design Haus Halle, Designer, Interview, Moormann, Producer, smow Introducing Tagged with: , , , , , ,

July 6th, 2010 by smow

Effortless and relaxed as this all seems, our reality is a life in constant motion as we move from one appointment to the next.

As one press release closes, another opens. As it were.

And along the way we meet an awful lot of excellent design from designers who simply can’t command the publicity of a  Philippe Starck, Verner Panton or Jasper Morrison.

Which isn’t really fair as the work is often just as good.

And so in our new, irregular, series (smow)Introducing we aim to present some of these young designers, their work and for all the process and philosophy behind the work.

For all we aim to concentrate on young designers from Sachsen Sachsen-Anhalt and Thüringen, drawing to a large degree – though not exclusively, – on design schools such as Burg Giebichenstein, Bauhaus Weimar or Schneeberg.

All articles and interviews can be found under the category (smow)Introducing

Posted in smow, smow Introducing Tagged with: , ,

Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller, Burg Giebichenstein
June 9th, 2009 by julius

Every month Jasper Morrison sends a photo to the Vitra Magazine. And every month Vitra publish it.

Every month we send a photo to the Vitra magazine. And every month they don’t.
Whereas the good Jaspers photos are always entertaining, this months entry was a lot more thoughtful and thought provoking.

PET Chandalier in Pondicherry, India. Photo: Jasper Morrison

PET Chandalier in Pondicherry, India. Photo: Jasper Morrison

Taken in Indian Pondicherry the photo shows a chandelier made from old PET bottles and Christmas lights. “If this was an exhibit at the Salone del Mobile in Milan I wouldn’t give it a second look” comments Morrison, before adding “but far removed from the temptations of designer dreams in Pondicherry, it holds a very different meaning and purpose.”

We don’t know how often Jasper Morrison was out and about in Milan, but we saw at least two lamps made from recycled bottles in Italy, then a couple in New York and yet another at DMY Berlin (in addition to the re-appearance of one we’d already seen in Milan)

Not only that but in Berlin we also found a lamp made out of broken umbrellas.

Discarded consumer goods as lighting is a current topic in contemporary design.

Pendant Lamp made from umbrellas

Pendant Lamp made from umbrellas

Except of course the materials aren’t discarded; rather, they’ve been used out of context to create the impression of a recycled product and so make a statement about first world consumption.

Only the product themselves automatically become an abuse of the uncontrolled consumption we in the north practice. We just call it “the temptations of designer dreams” in order to justify the unjustifiable.

For everyone who knows how much natural resources and energy goes into making one PET bottle also knows that tying it to another dozen to create a lamp is irresponsible waste.

And those who don’t know, should consult the videos by MSLK or check-out the film Tapped

And so where Morrison focuses on the Pondicherry Chandelier as demonstrating the intrinsic quality of good design, for us the more important message is: Stop pretending your recycling. Please.

If you live and work as an industrial or product designer in Europe you have almost limitless possibilities as regards raw materials and production processes. If you genuinely care about creating “green” or “sustainable” design make sure your materials and production processes reflect that concern and minimise impact.

Or actually use recycled products such as with Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller from Burg Giebichenstein University in Halle.

A PET bottle lamp at DMY Berlin

A PET bottle lamp at DMY Berlin

And if you don’t care about creating “green” or “sustainable” design, then build a chair from asbestos.

When Morrison states “…in Pondicherry, it holds a very different meaning and purpose” he means, and we believe understands, that it is “genuine”. Isn’t created as an artistic exercise by someone with access to libraries, internet, machines and materials in a scale beyond the grasp of most people; rather, by someone who needs to solve a problem, and that with the limited resources that physically lie before him.

There’s a verse in “Holiday in Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys that goes:

Play ethnicky jazz
To parade your snazz
On your five grand stereo
Braggin that you know
How the niggers feel cold
And the slums got so much soul

The world doesn’t need designers demonstrating to the the worlds poor how clever one can be with a few old plastic bottles and a bit of electric cable. As the Pondicherry Chandelier beautifully demonstrates, the skills exist, the innovation exists, the understanding exists.

And the unfair global distribution of resources exists.

The world needs designers who improve our situation and who understand that PET bottles are part of the problem and incorporating them into designs doesn’t actually help.

We need fewer PET bottles, not more.

Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller, Burg Giebichenstein

Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller, Burg Giebichenstein

Sustainability and fairness don’t mean puritan abstinence; they can be fun, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. And as far as we’re concerned should be. We positively appeal to the designers of the world to make the future for comfortable and safe; and that for all of us from Tipperary to Pondicherry and from Copenhagen to Harare.

Just don’t pretend your recycling for the benefit of the over-fed and the over-paid. And especially not with PET bottles.

And so thanks to Jasper Morrison for the photo, and more of the same please.

More weak, and potentially unfunny, humour about dogs driving delivery vans tomorrow :)

Posted in smow offline Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller, Burg Giebichenstein
June 6th, 2009 by julius

In the past few months we’ve had the privilege and misfortune of viewing several student showcases. These have ranged from the wonderful, such as the kkrraalls show in Milan from the students of the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe, over the disappointing (Cranbrook College in New York) and not especially good (Weimar Uni. Milan and Berlin) onto the outright pointless  – in particular we think on the show in Milan by a nameless north European-based college.

Stella by Stephanie Knust, Burg Giebichenstein

Stella by Stephanie Knust, Burg Giebichenstein

The show from the students of Burg Giebichenstein College, Halle fits into the upper half of what we have seen.
We sadly missed Burg Giebichenstein in Milan – although we believe their tents were not too far from ours – and so can only base our judgement on what we saw here in Berlin.

And what we saw was undeniably a student show; containing as it does all the elements student shows must contain.
Which isn’t to be dismissive. As a general rule students shows are not about products intended for sale; rather, they are about showing how the students handle different tasks and challenges, as well as what they understand from function, form, aesthetic and the like.

Jecket by Ilja Oelschlägel, Burg Giebichenstein

Jecket by Ilja Oelschlägel, Burg Giebichenstein

And so while there were some articles where the designers had clearly just been toooooo clever, the majority of the pieces on show demonstrated a solid understanding of both the designers responsibility and the design process. And in couple of cases even a good commercial judgement.

But most importantly regardless of the assessment of the individual item, one could always see and appreciate the undoubted talent that lay behind the works.

Which at the end of the day is the most important factor in student showcases.

We were suitably impressed.

More details on the products and designers can be found on the Burg Giebichenstein “Graduate 09” exhibition homepage.

Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller, Burg Giebichenstein

Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller, Burg Giebichenstein

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DMY Youngsters in the Arena Berlin
June 5th, 2009 by julius
DMY Youngsters in the Arena Berlin

DMY Youngsters in the Arena Berlin

While the “big name” designers show their wares at the IMA Village, the future stars are grouped together as DMY:Youngsters in the Treptower Park Arena
Admittedly the classification is based on the organisers own perception and marketing concept – why, for example should the students from Bauhaus Uni Weimar be considered “Allstars” while those from Burg Giebichenstein in Halle are classed as “youngsters”? It makes no sense. Especially given that the Burg Giebichenstein show considerably better is than that from Weimar. But people know “Bauhaus”

Such complaints aside, the youngsters exhibition is also a mix of the wonderful and the less so and well worth a visit.

Fuller reports to come, but for now we were especially impressed by the work of Bao-nghi Droste, Wohngold and My Own Super Studio

Beanbag heaven at DMY Youngsters - students, sleep etc...

Beanbag heaven at DMY Youngsters - students, comfy beanbags, sleep etc...

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