As we regularly note in our #campustour posts, what students produce is largely irrelevant, alone important in how the student got there, including how they responded to a given brief, posed their initial question, the logic in the decisions they made, the lessons learned from their mistakes, the lessons learned from others, the impulses received from contemporary discourses, etc, and how through the course of all such their understanding of and relationship to design evolved……
The Münster School of Design understand this process as a Parcours.
Their graduation exhibition allowing chance to reflect on all that leaping, bounding, climbing, rolling……
We doubt we will be able to visit the 2019 Summaery exhibition at Bauhaus University Weimar, as we suspect the town will be too full of visitors celebrating the centenary of Bauhaus Weimar.
Or perhaps better put, full of confused visitors wondering where all the steel tube furniture is….. Wrong Bauhaus people.
Consequently we attempted to extract as much as we could from Summaery 2018.
Having made his way to America as a stowaway on an British freighter the Dutch abstract expressionist artist, and eponym of Rotterdam’s art school, Willem de Kooning, initially made his living as a painter and decorator.
Which, considered in context of his later work, is just the most delicious thought……
“No Willem, that wall ONLY green, that wall ONLY yellow, the doors ONLY white. And straight edges!!!”
That unfamiliar bouquet in the air in Karlsruhe is the wind of change blowing through the Hochschule für Gestaltung: having guided, nurtured and, one assumes, wisely counselled, the design department since 1994 as Professor for Product Design Volker Albus is departing.
What that all means for the future is anyone’s guess, it’s very much a case of watch this space; for now all we could do is to what we do whenever a wind of change blows, and follow the Moskva down to Gorky Park and then on to the Hochschule für Gestaltung where the children of tomorrow were dreaming away at the 2018 Rundgang annual exhibition.
But would it be a glory night…….?
Derived from the French parcourir, the parcours is perhaps historically most popularly associated with equine show-jumping, the challenge of negotiating an artificial obstacle course; more recently it has become popular in context of human show-jumping, the challenge of negotiating an urban obstacle course.
Approaching the Köln International School of Design 2018 KISDparcours semester and graduation exhibition we hoped the obstacles to be negotiated would be of the mental, philosophical, type……
If, as we all freely accept, the meaning of life is 42, what does that make 43?
A miscalculation, and a life led in the belief that it was correct, all for the best, but was in actual fact all very wrong and completely missing the point?
A self-deluding over-estimation of the value of one’s own contribution to society?
Biting off more than you can chew?
Such, and other, considerations have kept us busy since the the 2018 smow blog #campustour formally ended…….
Counting amongst its alumni the likes of Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, Nanna Ditzel, Kaare Klint, Georg Jensen, do stop us if we get boring, Verner Panton, Thorvald Bindesbøll, Ole Wanscher, Poul Kjærholm, and pretty much any other Danish designer or architect of whom you’ve ever heard, and a great many more of whom you haven’t, the Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi Copenhagen was formally inaugurated on March 31st 1754 in honour of the 31st birthday of Frederik V.
But is it a gift that keeps on giving?
A visit to the Schools’ of Architecture, Design and Conservation 2018 graduation exhibition promised to provide some answers……
Odd as it may be to consider today, in the course of the 19th century and throughout the first decades of the 20th century, the German town of Chemnitz was one of the most important locations in central Europe for heavy and mechanical engineering, and thereby an important motor on the highway from craft to industrial production, supplying as it did the machines, infrastructure and ideas to enable that transfer. The importance of Chemnitz in the 19th century can perhaps be best gauged by the fact that the city, for all in the person of then Oberbürgermeister Dr. Wilhelm André, was one of the leading protagonists in the campaign which ultimately led in 1877 to the passing of the first Patent Law in the freshly established German Reich. The wealth those patents brought Chemnitz, its engineers and industrialists can still be seen today, for example, in the Kaßberg district, one of the most expansive Jugendstil suburbs in Germany, and also in the number of villas from the turn of the 19th/20th centuries to be found lining the broad boulevards, including the one built in 1902/03 by Henry van de Velde for the textile manufacturer Herbert Esche.
While the names of many/most of those engineers and industrialists may not be popularly known today that of Chemnitz’s most famous 20th century designer certainly is: Marianne Brandt, a trained artist who learned her metalwork trade in the workshops at Bauhaus Weimar, followed the school to Dessau and became, for all through her many designs for Leipzig based manufacturer Kandem, one of the genuine pioneers of lighting design. Even if most associate her today with teapots.
As the centenary of Bauhaus Weimar approaches, and thus memories are awakened of that period in history when eastern Germany was at the forefront of attempts to unify craft and art for the benefit of industry and society, what can Chemnitz offer? What can Chemnitz creatives contribute to the development of craft, industry, design? The exhibition Unikate 7 presenting graduation projects from the Handwerkskammer Chemnitz’ Gestalter im Handwerk programme seemed like an appropriate place to approach an answer…….
We’ve spent so much time walking alongside canals on this #campustour we’ve started to feel less like dashing thoroughbreds and more like plodding, monotonous, if honest, loyal and sedulous barge ponies.
There are, as far as we are aware, no canals in Aachen, yet, and much like those city’s who owe their existence to canals, Aachen owes its existence, and name, to its waters: the thermal springs arising in the city meaning that since Roman times the peoples of the region, and from further afield, have visited to take the aquae, the waters, from which over High Middle German one arrives at Aachen.
We arrived at Aachen with a train from Cologne. But would the works on show at the FH Aachen summer exhibitions soothe our tired, aching sensibilities much as thermal springs soothe tired, aching muscles? And would it put that much missed spring back in our step………
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……….?
“It is a peculiar tension that precedes a first visit to a painting exhibition”, opined the Dutch art critic Jacques van Santen Kolff in the introduction to his four part review of the 1875 exhibition at the Teeken-Akademie Den Haag, “there is a unique charm, something stimulating in that nervousness, an eminently “picturesque” tension.”1
Kolff wasn’t disappointed, that which he had sensed in the air was confirmed by that which hung on the walls and led him to coin the term “Hague School”, thus giving a name, a status, a relevance, to a contemporary movement in Dutch art, one which, according to Kolff, was a “new ultra-radical movement.”
We felt that peculiar tension, that unique charm and stimulating nervousness as we approached the Teeken-Akademie’s successor, the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten Den Haag’s, 2018 Graduation Festival.
But would we be as fundamentally convinced by what we saw in 2018 as Kolff was in 1875? Would we subsequently speak of a “new ultra-radical movement” in Dutch design?
And would our review run to four parts………
Our visit to the 2017 Royal College of Art London Graduate Show was one of the more sobering moments of our 2017 #campustour.
Or as we wrote then, “…in a world controlled by RCA graduates every, but every, aspect of our lives will be controlled by autonomous smart technology. We will literally lose the ability to think for ourselves. The human brain will become the appendix of the 21st century.”
Donning a hat fashioned from aluminium foil and an old metal sieve, we headed once more to South Kensington……
“Welcher Fehler braucht ein system?”, “Which errors/mistakes/imperfections does a system require?”, asked the Kunsthochschule Burg Giebichenstein Halle’s 2018 annual exhibition.
And used the question as a celebration of the power of trial and error, of the value, importance, poetry, of imperfections, abrasion, the incorrect, the unintended, the random, the well planned but ultimately unsuccessful, and how any otherwise well-organised, professional and targeted system needs a nuisance factor, needs a source of imperfection, chaos, resistance, experimentation, an aberration, to keep it fresh, exciting, relevant and vital.
Thanks guys, appreciate it…….
As Katie Melua informs us “There are nine million bicycles in Beijing. That’s a fact. It’s a thing we can’t deny”
But why chose to highlight Beijing’s nine million bicycles? Why not focus instead on a city such as Münster where there are a great many more bicycles than the paltry nine million Beijing has to offer? Maybe Katie wasn’t convinced people would believe her, wouldn’t be so willing to accept that that’s a fact. It’s a thing we can’t deny.
Which all has nothing in the slightest to do with the Akademie für Gestaltung Münster Finale 2018 graduation exhibition.
It just occurred to us as we crossed the city on our way to the Akademie.
On they way back to the train station we were too preoccupied with newer thoughts generated by the students’ graduation projects to worry about the streams of bicycles flowing through the streets or the post-industrial sculpture park into which Münster has been transformed by the ubiquitous bicycle parks/storage units.
Since 2000 Utrecht has been home to, when not the world’s longest poem, then certainly the world’s longest-term poem: running its way down Oudegracht through the heart of the inner-island, De Letters van Utrecht is extended every Saturday by the addition of a new letter, a process planned to continue ad infinitum. And which is in many ways similar to how smow blog posts are formed: we start writing, adding new words at regular intervals, without any real plan, far less any intention, ever to stop, but rather to just keep going on and on and on and on and on and on…….
As we strolled down Oudegracht towards the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht’s Exposure 2018 Graduation Exhibition the last letter set was number 965, was to be the first letter of a new word, and was a Z. But what would the new word be? Zaaien? Zaakkennis? Zakken, zalig, zalf, zagen, zangliefhebber, zakdoekjesboom, zandloperdolfijn?
Putting down our dictionaries we headed for the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht…….
Kassel isn’t just birthplace of the Brothers Grimm but is also, in many regards, birthplace of the noble art of the Spaziergangswissenschaft, Strollology, a concept developed by Lucius Burckhardt during his tenure at Kassel University and which not only challenges conventional perceptions of the world around us, but for all encourages us to develop a differentiated understanding of how we perceive the world around us.
But would our stroll through the 2018 Kunsthochschule Kassel Rundgang challenge any of our established and institutionalised images? Would we see only that which custom, culture and convention programmes and preconditions us to see? Or would our eyes be opened to new understandings, a new consciousness….?
The 2018 Manchester Art School Degree Show was held under the title “Take Flight”
But, …. and you’re ahead of us, we know… how many of the projects would cause us to soar with delight. How many to flee in foreboding and terror……?
We’ve long considered it an absolute cheek that German high-speed ICE trains stop in Hildesheim. Nothing against Hildesheim, but when one considers other cities in Germany where ICEs don’t stop, or stop with an almost insulting (in)frequency, coupled to the closeness of Hildesheim to more major centres and their ICE hubs, it always seemed as if Hildesheim was being unfairly favoured by Deutsche Bahn.
That was until we wanted to visit the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst Hildesheim’s Summer Graduation Exhibition, then the ICE stop made perfect sense, was a clear and logical piece of planning, something civilised society couldn’t conceivably exist without…..
And the projects on show at the 2108 Hildesheim Summer Graduation Exhibition…….?
The Proclaimers may have rightly celebrated the virtues of the Sunshine on Leith, but on the day we visited the 2018 Degree Show at Edinburgh College of Art’s School of Design the city was very much in the grip of a North Sea haar which had drifted, unhelpfully, up the Firth of Forth.
Or was it perchance an omen?
Would that which greeted us in the exhibition be equally as nebulous, cold and opaque……..?
Whereas Frankfurt can, and very loudly does, claim to the birthplace of the German poet, playwright, scientist, statesman, etc, etc, etc Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, nearby Offenbach was not only the birthplace of his almost wife and long, long time love Lili Schönemann, but it was in the, then, relative, calm of Offenbach that Goethe’s affections for Lili evolved and grew; “Lili was the first person I deeply and truly loved, and maybe she was the last”, an octogenarian Goethe is reported as having confided to a friend.
Would however we return from the 2018 Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach Rundgang with such a deep, enduring love….? With our own Lili……?
The building which Central Saint Martins calls home was erected in 1852 as store for grain arriving from Lincolnshire and awaiting its further distribution to London’s bakers.
Was, if you like, a transfer point, a hub, a location where general ideas became specific solutions, a place industry and trade called upon when needing raw materials for their latest project, a source for those whose work helped support and nourish the populace, a central institution in the development of the city and one, thereby, directly related to the immediate needs and interests of society.
We’re sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, somewhere, but where…….? Would a visit to the 2018 Central Saint Martins’ Degree Show help us locate it…….?
The Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Basel’s Institute Industrial Design is sited in the city’s Dreispitz district, a name derived from the district’s (roughly) triangular form, and a term which translates into English as “cocked hat”
But would the work of the Institute’s students see conventional ideas, wisdoms and understandings knocked into a Dreispitz…..
In October 2017 the Design Department of the Folkwang Universität der Künste Essen moved into its new home, the so-called Quartier Nord designed by Stuttgart based MGF Architekten.
The 2018 Folkwang Summer Rundgang therefore not only offered an opportunity to explore the work undertaken by institute’s students in the semester past, but also to explore their new home…….
Tracing its history back to 1899 the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design a.k.a The Cass has an established place in the (hi)story of English design, for all in woodcraft based design including toys, music instruments and furniture.
But as we all know a long history and illustrious alumni are poor hooks on which to hang the future of an institution, much more robust are the current staff, students and their work.
The 2018 Cass Summer Show allowed some insights into the contemporary Cass……
Our visit to the 2018 Glasgow School of Art Degree Show occurred before the recent fire, indeed this post was all planned to go, then came news of the fire … and it seemed appropriate to wait.
But not to archive it away altogether, for tragic and destructive as the fire unquestionably was, an art/design/architecture school is its staff and students and ideas and visions and understanding of the world. Not the bricks and mortar that surround it.
Even if those bricks and mortar were arranged by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
And so with reflections on what has been lost, but our eyes still firmly on the future…..