Arne Jacobsen Bellevue Lifeguard Tower
February 11th, 2016 by smow

Sand is not a material on which many architects would hope to successfully build a project, far less a career. In many ways however that is exactly what the Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen did.

Arne Jacobsen Bellevue Copenhagen

Bellevue Strandbad Copenhagen

Born on 11 February 1902 in Copenhagen, Arne Emile Jacobsen studied architecture at the city’s Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi – Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – graduating in 1927. One of Denmark’s first, and foremost, functionalists, Arne Jacobsen was responsible for some of Denmark’s most important post war architectural projects including Rødovre Town Hall, Toms Chocolate Factory in Ballerup and the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, which upon its completion in 1960 was the tallest building in Scandinavia and remains today a towering monument to the utopian visions of the period. In later years Arne Jacobsen increasingly completed projects outwith Denmark’s borders, the most notable being St Catherine’s College, Oxford and the City Hall in Mainz, Germany. Despite the importance of his architecture for many Arne Jacobsen is best known for his furniture design work, a portfolio of contemporary classics including the Egg Chair, Swan Chair and Ant Chair. And a portfolio of contemporary classics which the proud architect Jacobsen would no doubt remind us were all created in context of architectural projects: as a staunch believer in the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk Arne Jacobsen busied himself with all aspects of a project, including the furniture, fixtures and fittings. Arne Jacobsen died on March 24th 1971 leaving as his legacy a collection of architectural and design projects which present a very personal and individual take on the modernist ideas and which continue to influence and inspire architects and designers.

Arne Jacobsen’s first competition success, and as such his first professional steps were, however, taken on that most unpromising of architectural substrates: sand.

Arne Jacobsen Bellevue Changing cabins

Changing cabins at Bellevue Strandbad by Arne Jacobsen

In 1930 the Klampenborg municipal authority moved the main Strandvejen road inland from its position on the shore and thus created space for a new beach complex some 10kms north of Copenhagen. Christened Bellevue Strandbad, the landscape architect C.Th. Sørensen was commissioned to layout the gardens and an architectural competition undertaken for the necessary changing rooms, kiosks, lifeguard facilities, et al. A competition which Arne Jacobsen won. That thought that Fate in her poetic way played a role in Jacobsen’s victory cannot be ignored; Arne Jacobsen’s Diploma project, for which he won the Academy of Fine Arts’ Gold Medal, was a concept for a Danish National Museum on exactly the same site as the Bellevue beach complex. Jacobsen’s museum concept was however a strict neo-classical design, Bellevue unquestionably influenced by the international style.

Prior to Bellevue Jacobsen had only built private houses, initially in a very conservative, neo-renaissance style; however, and much like his Finnish contemporary Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen experienced a conversion to Modernism in the late 1920s. Unlike Aalto’s relative sudden conversion Jacobsen’s was progressive and easier to document. In 1925, and so while still a student, Jacobsen participated in the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris where he saw Le Corbusier’s fabled L’Esprit Nouveau pavilion and Konstantin Melnikov’s even more fabled constructivist Soviet pavilion. In addition Jacobsen visited Germany the late 1920s where he experienced Ernst May’s Neue Frankfurt project as well as works by the likes of Mies van der Rohe or Walter Gropius. The consequence was that throughout the 1920s Jacobsen’s neo-classic Scandinavian style became increasingly replaced by the clean lines and unassuming curves of modernism of which Bellevue is one of the best examples. Or was one of the best examples. Much has sadly since vanished however the changing rooms remain and set as they are unobtrusively into Sørensen’s gardens provide a tempting impression of what once was. As do the lifeguard towers, their fading ice-cream chic reminding of past glories and untold carefree pre-war summer afternoons.

Arne Jacobsen Bellevue Lifeguard Tower

A Lifeguard Tower at Bellevue Strandbad by Arne Jacobsen

Following the opening of the Bellevue beach complex Arne Jacobsen went on to build the Bellavista housing estate, Bellevue Theatre and Mattsson riding school, thus turning a small portion of the Danish coast into his personal vision of Modernist construction and planning.

A vision which had to do without one of Arne Jacobsen’s grander projects.

Arne Jacobsen’s move towards modernism included a fascination with technology and an increasing appreciation of what technology could offer architecture, and his original Bellevue development plans foresaw a sublimely monumental observation tower crowned by a rotating restaurant. A plan sadly, oh so sadly, not realised on account of objections from environmentalists.1 Jacobsen did however manage to incorporate a retractable roof into the Bellevue Theatre, thus allowing for performances under open skies and with a gentle sea breeze.

In the late 1950s Jacobsen was responsible for the construction the so-called Søholm row of houses on the southern end of the Bellevue complex, one of which belonged to him and in the cellar of which he housed his studio. And from which he had easy access to one of his earliest, and most enchanting, projects.

Arne Jacobsen Bellevue Bellavista

Bellavista housing estate by Arne Jacobsen

From the moment in opened in June 1932 the Bellevue beach complex proved a success, the Copenhagen public flocking to the new attraction: something they still do. By all accounts, and we can’t verify any of them, Bellevue remains one of the most popular summer day trip destinations for the residents of Copenhagen and vicinity.

And a location which should be on any Copenhagen tourist’s itinerary.

While admittedly much of the spirit of adventure and gaiety of the early 1930s has vanished from the site, and many of the houses in the Bellavista estate are showing all to clearly the limitations of 1930s technology, materials and building practices, Bellevue is still an exhilarating and fascinating place to visit.

And proof that sand can be a reliable and stable material on which to build.

Happy Birthday Arne Jacobsen!

1. Johan Pedersen, Arkitekten Arne Jacobsen, Arkitektens Forl. Copenhagen 1954

Arne Jacobsen Bellevue Teatret

Bellevue Teatret by Arne Jacobsen

Arne Jacobsen Bellevue

Bellevue Strandbad & Bellavista by Arne Jacobsen

Arne Jacobsen Bellevue house

Søholm housing row by Arne Jacobsen with their characteristic Zig-Zag roofs, as seen from Bellevue Strandbad

Posted in Architecture, Design Calendar, Design Tourism, Designer Tagged with: , , ,

gren light chandelier by Gunnar Søren Petersen (Photo © Alex Kueper)
September 16th, 2015 by smow

In our recent review of contemporary Berlin creativity we noted that one of the problems increasingly being faced by Berlin is that of holding on to the ever increasing number of graduates from the city’s many design institutions.

Thus it seemed apposite to talk to a recent Berlin design graduate about the reality of life as a recent Berlin design graduate.

A recent Berlin design graduate such as Gunnar Søren Petersen.

Born and raised in Bonn Gunnar Søren Petersen studied Industrial Design at the Universität der Künste, UdK, Berlin, a course of studies which included an exchange year in Copenhagen studying furniture design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture, Design and Conservation.

We first came across Gunnar Søren Petersen when we saw his lamp gren light at the UdK Berlin Rundgang 2014. When we first saw gren light we were initially very impressed. Then less sure. Then impressed. Then …….. In the course of that Friday afternoon we must have visited the room in which gren light was hanging at least twelve times, before finally deciding that, yes, it was that good. Less a modular lamp and more a freely configurable system based around a small number of standard components, gren light, as we noted in our 2014 post “combines a refined, dulcet charm with an understated beauty in an extremely elegant object. An extremely elegant object constructed on the basis of a very simple, easily reproducible, infinitely variable construction principle.” And a work which takes a little time to adjust to. Unless that is you’re prepared to simply follow you’re gut reaction.

Appreciating Gunnar’s most recent work – snak – requires a lot less time. An eminently accessible object snak is a collapsible picnic and/or camping table crafted from wood and polypropylene integral foam and effortlessly combines a classic feel with a contemporary form language. And a table tennis net.

Having spoken to Gunnar Søren Petersen about snak in the wake of his success in the 2015 Garden Unique Youngstars competition we went on to discuss the reality as a recent design graduate in Berlin and the pros and cons of Berlin vs. Copenhagen, but started, as is our want in such interviews, by asking, why design?

Gunnar Søren Petersen: For as long as I can remember I have been interested in designing things and creating, later came an interest in constructive thinking and in exploring questions about space, objects and the relationships between people, space and objects, and so in a way it was a fairly logical, and easy, conclusion to decide to follow a design career.

smow blog: The first step on that path was then Industrial Design at UdK Berlin. Why the decision for the UdK?

Gunnar Søren Petersen: After finishing secondary school I had moved to Berlin, largely because it was Berlin, and so in a way it was natural to also study here. To be completely honest, because I was doing my Zivildienst I had missed the application deadlines for the Kunsthochschule Weissensee and FH Potsdam, the UdK’s deadline was a little later and so I threw everything into that application and was lucky enough to be accepted.

smow blog: And despite the somewhat, let’s say, non-targeted nature to your application, the course at the UdK was subsequently to your liking, or…….?

Gunnar Søren Petersen: Very much so. What I particularly liked about the course at the UdK is that it is very practical and that you are given the freedom within the programme to develop in the direction you wish to, and to either concentrate on those areas and skills that particularly interest you or to use the variety of workshops and courses to gain experience in a wide range of disciplines. And regardless what you do there is always someone to support and advise you.

smow blog: But, and because we know the world isn’t always rosy, was there anything missing, or perhaps better put anything you would change about the course?

Gunnar Søren Petersen: In general in design education I believe that the design schools need to work much more closely with industry and with producers. At the UdK, for example, there were cooperations, but only infrequently and only very rarely were they of a scale and scope which meant that anything truly positive resulted for the students. I for example was fortunate enough to be part of a project organised by Professor Axel Kufus in conjunction with the Italian textile manufacturer Alcantara and that was an excellent project in the course of which numerous guest lecturers were invited to lead workshops in Berlin, we had a trip to the Alcantara factory in Italy where we could learn first hand about the development and production processes and then at the end of the course we had a stand at the Qubique trade fair with all the organisation and planning such involves. Which is a lot of input from a relatively short course: but relevant and interesting input and something only possible through the cooperation. And more such cooperations would I believe be of very real benefit, not least because through such you learn about the reality of the future you’re training for.

smow blog: Which is a nice bridge, you’re now finished, have entered that reality, and are still in Berlin, can one deduce that for you Berlin is a good base as a designer?

Gunnar Søren Petersen: I believe so, yes. In my case I had pretty much decided before studying that I wanted to be based in Berlin, but as a city Berlin offers lots of possibilities, is a good size, and is a good location in which to develop personally

smow blog: But as a young freelance designer is there also work?

Gunnar Søren Petersen: Yes, there is work in Berlin, but it is helpful if you have a good network. In my case it was so that three or four years ago I had a few excellent contacts and through them I was able to organise fairly regular work and commissions. But then having spent time in Copenhagen and subsequently having concentrated more on my studies that network isn’t, let’s say, as fresh as it once was. However my current focus is not exclusively establishing my own studio but additionally looking for an employed position in an established studio, principally so that I can gain more experience, for all in those aspects of the industry that one doesn’t learn at Uni.

smow blog: We presume you mean all the business elements that design students famously aren’t taught….

Gunnar Søren Petersen: Exactly! In terms of the technical skills, practical thinking and artistic, creative aspects of the profession you are as a design graduate very well prepared, but the business aspects aren’t taught enough, nor for example the communications and publicity aspects, so how to present yourself and to ensure a degree of visibility.

smow blog: And you hope to learn them in an established agency….

Gunnar Søren Petersen: That at least is the plan! I am currently applying both here in Berlin and also in Copenhagen, and in Berlin I have had a lot of positive feedback but the majority of the studios simply don’t have vacancies, or at least not paid vacancies, but rather when they have a vacancy it is an internship, and my aim is a job, not least because I don’t believe that after having completed your studies, including undertaking internships, that you should then have to undertake further unpaid internships. However in design that is how you are expected to proceed, which is a shame, not least because in other branches that isn’t the case. In most other professions it is understood that you finish your studies and enter paid employment.

smow blog: Interesting that you say there is only very rarely paid opportunities in Berlin, one would have thought that given the number of design studios in Berlin one would find an equivalent number of vacancies……

Gunnar Søren Petersen: The principle reason is that the design studios in Berlin are generally very small and don’t need the extra staff. Which isn’t to say they aren’t successful, there are a lot of very successful studios in Berlin but they operate at a size at which they are comfortable and above which they don’t necessarily want to grow or at least not until they are certain that they have sufficient work to justify such.

smow blog: And in Copenhagen, has one more chances there? Are there more, larger agencies?

Gunnar Søren Petersen: Specifically in term of furniture, which is my principle focus, there are, in my opinion, more, larger, agencies than in Berlin and also more agencies who are better established in the international market than is the case in Berlin. And so in theory there are probably currently more opportunities for me in Copenhagen than Berlin. I have however only recently started applying in Copenhagen and so I may yet be proved wrong….

smow blog: And generally speaking can one compare Berlin and Copenhagen, or is such not possible…..?

Gunnar Søren Petersen: In general I think one can say that Copenhagen is a little more professional, which isn’t to say better, just the attitude is different. Both function as they are very well, but very differently. Although having said that one can also say that if Berlin was smaller it would in many ways be very similar to Copenhagen, not exactly the same but very similar.

smow blog: You mentioned earlier that you originally moved to Berlin because it was Berlin, and that it still works for you as a location, but we sense that it the needn’t necessarily be your future?

Gunnar Søren Petersen: No not necessarily, I would also quite happily move to Copenhagen, I have a great social circle there and feel very much at home in Copenhagen and so if I was offered a good job I’d have no hesitations about moving. But at the same time Berlin still has a very strong appeal and fascination for me and so I am open to both. And not that I’m ruling out other locations, Amsterdam, Hamburg or London all have their advantages, but for the time being my focus is Copenhagen and Berlin.

More information on Gunnar Søren Petersen can be found at

Posted in Designer, Interview Tagged with: , , , ,

Manifesto. Works by Students and Graduates of the Studio of Glass in Prague at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Dresden, Germany
August 28th, 2015 by smow

As old Mother Goose, allegedly, once claimed:

Thirty days hath September, and the following five enticing new design and architecture exhibitions which are probably well worth checking out if you get the chance…….

“Piet Mondrian. The Line” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany

Just as those architects who were to lead the move to modernism in the first decades of the 20th century generally began working in more classic styles before being seduced by the reduced charm of modernism, so to did the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian begin as an impressionist before discovering that which would become his defining form: the line. Organised by the Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin in conjunction with Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, “Piet Mondrian. The Line” promises to present some 50, largely early, works by Mondrian through which the curators aim to explain how the artist strove to find his own artistic voice – a voice which remains an enduring influence on contemporary art, architecture and design.

Piet Mondrian. The Line opens at the Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin, Niederkirchnerstraße 7, 10963 Berlin on Friday September 4th and runs until Sunday December 6th.

Piet Mondrian (1872 – 1944): Kirchenfassade 1: Kirche in Domburg

Piet Mondrian (1872 – 1944): Kirchenfassade 1: Kirche in Domburg, 1914 (Photo: © Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands, Courtesy of Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin)

“The Bauhaus #itsalldesign” at the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany

The second most pertinent question in context of the Vitra Design Museum’s forthcoming Bauhaus exhibition is, what would Walter Gropius make of the hashtag? Something tells he would have liked it. And not just because of its quadratic sophistication, but much more because of the inherent sense of solidarity and directed action it transports. And its commercial value, obviously.
And the most pertinent question, what can another major Bauhaus exhibition add to our knowledge and understanding of that most lauded of institutions? Divided into four themed sections exploring Bauhaus’s historical and social context, the understanding of space at the institution, Bauhaus communication and the plethora of design objects produced in Weimar and Dessau, the most interesting and valuable aspect of “The Bauhaus #itsalldesign” promises to be a juxtaposition of works by Bauhaus alumni such as Marcel Breuer, Marianne Brandt and Lyonel Feininger with works by contemporary creatives such as Adrian Sauer, Jerszy Seymour, Konstantin Grcic and Enzo Mari, and the attempt therein to explore the relevance of the Bauhaus legacy on contemporary creativity. For if it has none – what has it?

The Bauhaus. #itsalldesign opens at the Vitra Design Museum, Charles-Eames-Str. 2, 79576 Weil am Rhein on Saturday September 26th and runs until Sunday February 28th

Photograph from an instruction manual for the usage  of tools, Thonet brothers, 1935 , Collection Alexander  von Vegesack, Domaine de Boisbuchet,  (photographer unknown)

Photograph from an instruction manual for the usage of tools, Thonet brothers, 1935 , (Photo Collection Alexander von Vegesack, Domaine de Boisbuchet, Photographer unknown, courtesy of Vitra Design Museum)

“Sukiya – Japanese Teahouse” at Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, Finland

There can be fewer more iconic objects in the development of modernism than the Japanese house. With its reduced construction principle, functional elegance and material simplicity the traditional Japanese house is in many ways the archetypal modernist construction. And a form which continues to inspire and motivate in equal measure. Focussing on sukiya, an architectural style traditionally, though not exclusively, used for the construction of teahouses, the Museum of Finnish Architecture will attempt to explain the history and cultural relevance of sukiya while at the same time exploring its modern relevance and role in contemporary Japanese architecture and construction. In addition to a full size sukiya teahouse complete with wooden, bamboo and tatami mats, shoji room dividers and assorted items of furniture, the exhibition will present an exploration of the tools, material and processes involved in sukiya while in a number of workshops artisan craftsman will demonstrate the sukiya technique and so help explain what makes sukiya so unique. And as captivating as ever.

Sukiya – Japanese Teahouse opens at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Kasarmikatu 24, 00130 Helsinki on Wednesday September 2nd and runs until Sunday November 15th

Sukiya – Japanese Teahouse Museum of Finnish Architecture

Sukiya – Japanese Teahouse at Museum of Finnish Architecture

Manifesto. Works by Students and Graduates of the Studio of Glass in Prague at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Dresden, Germany

Shortly after taking up her position as Director of the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden Tulga Beyerle told us that the decision to invite Prague based studios Okolo and Dechem to participate in exhibitions was, at least partly if not exclusively, a way “of demonstrating that a city such as Prague is a location where things are happening and that it makes sense, and is hopefully fun, to learn more about what is happening there.” As a next step in that direction the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden are presenting an exhibition of works by Rony Plesl and his students from the Glass Studio of the Prague Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design. In addition to presenting work created during the eight years of Rony Plesl’s tenure as Head of the glass studio in Prague, and thus providing an overview of the direction in which Rony Plesl has taken the institution, Manifesto will also present a selection of works specially created for the exhibition and inspired by the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden’s collection – thus continuing the institution’s critical exploration of its collection through the eyes of outsiders.

Manifesto. Works by Students and Graduates of the Studio of Glass in Prague opens at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Schloss Pillnitz, August-Böckstiegel-Straße 2, 01326 Dresden on Friday September 4th and runs until Sunday November 1st.

Manifesto. Works by Students and Graduates of the Studio of Glass in Prague at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Dresden, Germany

Manifesto. Works by Students and Graduates of the Studio of Glass in Prague at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Dresden, Germany

MINDCRAFT15 at Designmuseum Danmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

One of the joys about having decided to give up trekking to Milan every April is visiting those shows that you invariably would have missed in Milan in other locations. Even when that location is one as mindbogglingly expensive as Copenhagen. Organized by the Danish Agency for Culture MINDCRAFT is an annual exhibition series which presents a curated selection of contemporary Danish craft and design: the 2015 edition being curated by Copenhagen based design studio GamFratesi and featuring works by, amongst others, benandsebastian, Cecilie Manz, Henrik Vibskov and Louise Campbell and as with all MINDCRAFT exhibitions aims to not only provide a succinct overview of contemporary Danish creativity but also explore the contemporary similarities and differences between design and craft.

MINDCRAFT15 opens at the Designmuseum Danmark, Bredgade 68, 1260 Copenhagen K on Friday September 18th and runs until Sunday January 31st

MINDCRAFT15 Chiostro Minore di San  Simpliciano Milan

MINDCRAFT15, here at Chiostro Minore di San Simpliciano Milan (Photo: © MINDCRAFT/Jule Hering, Courtesy Designmuseum Danmark

Posted in 5 New Design Exhibitions, Architecture, Bauhaus, Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, Weil am Rhein Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

December 25th, 2014 by smow

As all old thesauruans know “April” is merely a synonym for “Milan”

And lo despite all promises to the contrary April 2014 once again found us in Lombardy, where, amongst other objects and exhibitions, we were very taken with the Alexander Girard reissues revealed by Vitra, the exhibition of Meisenthal Glassworks at the Institut Francais and the new Rival chair by Konstantin Grcic for Artek. Away from Milan April 214 saw us get to know the work of Pascal Howe at the DMY Design Gallery Berlin, experience the full depth of the Thonet chair design history at the Grassi Museum Leipzig, the work of Ola Kolehmainen, Okolo Offline at Depot Basel and wish Hans J. Wegner a happy 100th!

Haus am Waldsee Berlin Ola Kolehmainen Geometric Light Hagia Sophia year 537 III Untitled No 6 2014

Hagia Sophia year 537 III, 2014, and Untitled (No. 6), 2005, by Ola Kolehmainen. As seen at Ola Kolehmainen - Geometric Light, Haus am Waldsee Berlin

Okolo Offline at Depot Basel

Okolo Offline at Depot Basel

Sitzen Liegen Schaukeln Möbel von Thonet Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig 02

Sitting – Lying – Swinging. Furniture from Thonet at the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts, Leipzig

Pascal Howe VDI 2860 at the DMY Design Gallery Berlin

Pascal Howe - VDI 2860 at the DMY Design Gallery Berlin

Milan 2014 Artek Rival Konstantin Grcic

Rival by Konstantin Grcic for Artek

Milan Design Week 2014 Special Le Feu Sacré Designers and glass blowers at Institut Francais 02

Le Feu Sacré Designers and glass blowers at Institut Francais, Milan

(smow) blog compact Milan 2014 Vitra Alexander Girard Colour Wheel Ottoman

Colour Wheel Ottoman by Alexander Girard through Vitra, as seen at Milan Furniture Fair 2014

WEGNER – Just one good chair Christian Holmsted Olesen Hatje Cantz Verlag

WEGNER – Just one good chair by Christian Holmsted Olesen through Hatje Cantz Verlag

Posted in Artek, Designer, Producer, smow, Thonet, Vitra Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Villa Tugendhat Brno
September 30th, 2014 by smow

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” exclaims Anne Shirley in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, “it would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”

Yes Anne, it would.

Yet while Ms Shirley turned her youthful attention to decorating her bedroom with the brightly coloured maple branches so prevalent on Prince Edward Island at this time of year, our joy is found in the new architecture and design exhibitions opening in the coming weeks.

In no particular order, and as Anne would no doubt phrase it, our top five thrills for October 2014……

“Studio Wieki Somers – Out of the Ordinary” at Museum Boijmans, Rotterdam, Holland

We first came across the work of Rotterdam based Studio Wieki Somers a.k.a. Dylan van den Berg and Wieki Somers through their contribution to the 2012 exhibition “Contemporary Dutch Design Live” at the Vitra Design Museum. Yes the fact that they were presenting a 100 kilo chocolate praline helped attract our attention, but much more impressive was the way Studio Wieki Somers employed a relatively brutal and direct process to elicit a delicate, almost unseen transformation in the pattern of the praline. And this attention to the finer details of aesthetic and construction, an ability to bring the inner beauty of an object to the surface without comprising the functionality, underscores much of the Studio Wieki Somers’ canon. In addition to having their work produced by manufacturers as varied as Kahla Porcelain, Tectona or Droog, Studio Wieki Somers have also cooperated with the likes of Galerie Kreo Paris, the Textile Museum in Tilburg and Galerie Vivid Rotterdam. To celebrate the studio’s tenth anniversary the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam are presenting an exhibition of the studios output. Featuring projects such as their 2004 Trophies drinking glasses, the 2005 Bathboat or their 2010 Frozen in Time collection, Out of the Ordinary promises to provide a succinct overview of a very interesting design studio. A particularly nice touch is that with the exhibition running over winter visitors will be able to make use of the Merry-Go-Round Coat Rack Studio Wieki Somers created in 2009 for the entrance of the Museum Boijmans.

Studio Wieki Somers – Out of the Ordinary opens at Museum Boijmans, Museumpark 18, 3015 CX Rotterdam on Saturday October 11th and runs until Sunday January 11th.

 “Chocolate Mill” by Studio Wieki Somers created in context of the exhibition “Contemporary Dutch Design Live” at the Vitra Design Museum, 2012

“Skud på Stammen 2014” at Trapholt – Museum of Modern Art, Applied Art, Design and Architecture, Kolding, Denmark

Since 2007 the programme Skud på Stammen – roughly “Chip of the old block” or “New branches ” – has paired carpentry students from Copenhagen Technical College with experienced designers to work on a collaborative project. And since 2007 the results of these co-operations have been presented in an exhibition at the Trapholt art and design museum in Kolding. Following on from the themes “From seed to…” in 2011, “Recession” in 2012 and “Globalisation” in 2013, Skud på Stammen 2014 asked participants to work on the theme “Over the line”: a theme which takes 2014 and Hans J Wegner and Børge Mogensen 100th birthdays as a starting point to challenge popular conceptions of “Danish Design” as represented by the works of the two centenarians. A not altogether unfitting theme as it was co-operations between designers/architects such as Mogensen or Wegner and carpenters which laid the foundations for the works that today form the popular understanding of the much hyped “Danish Design”. An understanding we know many younger Danish designers have real problems with; yet from which carpenters and cabinet makers still benefit. Thus it should be interesting to see how the invited contemporary designers, including, Kasper Salto, Sigurd Larsen and Jonas Pedersen, and the students cooperate. And who has the greater say in the finished works.

Skud på Stammen 2014 opens at Trapholt – Museum of Modern Art, Applied Art, Design and Architecture, Æblehaven 23, DK-6000 Kolding on Tuesday October 28th and runs until Sunday February 1st

Børge Mogensen FDB Chair Danish Museum of Art and Design Copenhagen

A Børge Mogensen FDB Chair and an 18th/19th century English chair, as seen at Danish Museum of Art and Design in Copenhagen. A perfect demonstration of the origins of "Danish Design" in traditional carpentry.

“Frank Gehry” at Le Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

We’re not going to claim to be the biggest fans of Canadian architect Frank O Gehry’s buildings. Or perhaps better put we’re not going to claim to be the biggest fans of Gehry Partners’ formulaic repetition in their constructions, something we most recently noted in our post on Gehry Partners’ planned tower block for Alexanderplatz in Berlin. In that post we also argued that the “blame” doesn’t lie with Gehry alone, but that the largest part must be accepted by those who commission Gehry with the tacit expectation of a building that looks like something he previously built. Frank Gehry should obviously say no to such commissions. But one can’t really blame him for accepting them. Yet while we find the debates surrounding Gehry Partners’ projects important they do however distract somewhat from the undeniable contribution Frank Gehry has made to contemporary architecture, including his early experimentation with deconstructivist forms, his reconfiguration of modernist standards, his considerations on perception of space or his role in developing the use of 3D computer based planning in architecture, innovations which underscore the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury’s 1989 Citation that “Gehry’s work is a highly refined, sophisticated and adventurous aesthetic that emphasizes the art of architecture.”1 The Centre Pompidou’s forthcoming exhibition would seem to offer an excellent chance to weigh up such positions. Curated by Frédéric Migayrou and Aurélien Lemonier from the Musée National d’art Moderne the exhibition is, according to the organisers, the first major Frank Gehry retrospective in Europe and will feature some 225 drawings and 67 models through which 60 Gehry projects are investigated, including the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and, naturally, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. And by lucky coincidence October also sees the opening of Frank Gehry’s latest “signature” work: The Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Gehry-sur-Seine, as it were.

Frank Gehry opens at Le Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75191 Paris on Wednesday October 8th and runs until Monday January 26th

1. Accessed 29.09.2014

vitra design museum frank gehry

The Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. Frank Gehry's first building in Europe.

“Gaudí. Eine zukunftsweisende Architektur” at the Architekturzentrum Wien, Vienna, Austria

Those wanting a more complete impression and/or deeper understanding of d’oeuvre Frank O Gehry are probably best advised to travel from Paris to Vienna for an exhibition devoted to another great exponent of signature architecture: Antoni Gaudí. As indeed are all who want to understand more about the man and architect behind the Parc Güell and La Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Organised by the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, “Gaudí. Architecture Ahead of its Time” promises to explore not only Gaudí’s most famous creations but also his lesser known early works, his design work, including furniture, in addition to explaining how he approached his projects and his empirical, model based, methods for calculating the statics and load bearing capacity of his constructions, and thus aims to provide an image of the man that goes beyond mosaic covered lizards and unfinished churches.

Gaudí. Eine zukunftsweisende Architektur opens at the Architekturzentrum Wien – Alte Halle, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna on Thursday October 2nd and runs until Sunday November 2nd

Antoni Gaudí. Krypta der Kirche der Colònia Güell. Innenansicht (1898-1917)

Antoni Gaudí. Crypt of the church in the Colònia Güell. Interior. (Photo © Ricard Pla i Pere Vivas. Triangle Postals. Courtesy of Architekturzentrum Wien)

“Villa Tugendhat” at Weissenhofwerkstatt im Haus Mies van der Rohe, Stuttgart, Germany

Just as universally identifiable with Barcelona as Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família is without question Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Pavilion for the German trade mission to the 1929 International Exposition. Parallel to developing the Barcelona Pavilion Mies van der Rohe was also working on a further project that would confirm his position as one of the most important architects of his generation, the so-called Villa Tugendhat in Brno. As with his Barcelona Pavilion Mies van der Rohe ignored “traditional” construction principles for Villa Tugendhat preferring instead an iron reinforced concrete frame, a decision which negated the need for internal supporting walls, thus allowing for a more individual, and for all more open, room plan. A construction principle which was truly revolutionary in its day. The majority of the rear wall meanwhile is given over to floor-to-ceiling windows, thus not only allowing for an increased feel of lightness and openness but also offering spectacular views over Brno. In addition to revolutionary construction principles the Villa Tugendhat is also remarkable for the advanced technology employed, including an electronic window opening system and an integrated heating/cooling system. Besides the building Mies van der Rohe was also responsible for the fixtures and fittings, largely relying on his own furniture including the Barcelona Chair and MR 20 cantilever chair in addition to two chairs developed specially for the project, the “Tugendhat Chair” and “Brno Chair. The one major exception to the self-created interior was the decision to use Poul Henningsen’s new PH Lamps. Curated by the Villa Tugendhat Study and Documentation Centre the exhibition in Stuttgart aims not only to explain and explore the construction itself but also the recently completed renovations and thus promises to provide a delightful and accessible introduction to a most fascinating construction.

Villa Tugendhat opens at the Weissenhofwerkstatt im Haus Mies van der Rohe, Am Weissenhof 20, 70191 Stuttgart on Saturday October 11th and runs until Sunday November 30th.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Villa Tugendhat Brno

Villa Tugendhat Brno by Ludwig Mies van der Roh, rear view (Photo © David Židlický, Courtesy of Villa Tugendhat Study and Documentation Centre)



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

Finn Juhl Poet Sofa
July 8th, 2014 by smow

By way of a final addendum to our “5 New Design Exhibitions for July 2014” post, the Design museum Gent are currently hosting an exhibition devoted to one of the true masters of 20th century design, Finn Juhl.

A designer who, as regular readers will be aware, we yield ground to no man to in our admiration for.

Finn Juhl Chieftain Chair

Finn Juhl in his Chieftain Chair (Photo: © Trapholt Museum Kolding, courtesy Design museum Gent)

Born in Frederiksberg, Denmark in 1912 Finn Juhl studied architecture at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Following his graduation in 1934 Finn Juhl took up a position with the modernist architect Vilhelm Lauritzen, before establishing his own studio in 1945. As with many architects of his age Finn Juhl’s first furniture designs were for his own apartment, his public début coming at the 1937 Copenhagen Cabinetmaker’s Guild exhibition. In the same year Finn Juhl’s first works were produced by the Copenhagen cabinet maker Niels Vodder, the beginning of a partnership that lasted until 1959. In addition to Niels Vodder Finn Juhl’s furniture designs were also produced by France & Søn, Ludvig Pontoppidan, Bovirke and Baker Furniture from Grand Rapids, Michigan; a partnership which highlights just one of the differences between Finn Juhl and his compatriot Hans J. Wegner who initially refused to have his furniture produced in America for fear of losing quality of craftsmanship. Being a “pure” architect without any form of carpentry or general craft training Finn Juhl had no such qualms. He trusted that Americans were as skilled craftsmen as their Danish colleagues.

In addition to his furniture designs Finn Juhl also completed numerous notable architecture projects, including Bing & Grøndahl’s flagship store in Copenhagen and the chamber of the UN Trusteeship Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, in addition to teaching at the Copenhagen School of Interior Design and the Institute of Design, Chicago. Finn Juhl died in Copenhagen on  May 17th 1989.

Finn Juhl Poet Sofa

Poet Sofa by Finn Juhl (Photo: © Trapholt Museum Kolding, courtesy Design museum Gent)

From a young age Finn Juhl had planned to follow a career in art history, his father, thankfully, manoeuvring him towards architecture. His passion for art however never left him and contemporary art, and for all abstract sculpture, served as a major influence on his architectural and furniture design work. With flowing, self-confident, almost regal objects such as the Poet Sofa, Chieftain Armchair, Pelican Chair or Eye Table Finn Juhl not only helped introduce complete new form languages and conventions into furniture design but also helped establish the tenacious myth of “Danish Design”.

Finn Juhl – a Danish Design Icon was originally shown in 2012 at the Trapholt Museum of Modern Art, Applied Art, Design And Furniture Design in Kolding, Denmark, and in addition to presenting examples of Finn Juhl’s work also explains the source of his various inspirations, how he interpreted them into his work, juxtapositions Finn Juhl with his contemporaries and so helps explain why Finn Juhl is such an important designer. And why his works are more than just endearing visual masterpieces.

Finn Juhl – a Danish Design Icon runs at Design museum Gent, Jan Breydelstraat 5, 9000 Gent until Sunday October 12th 2014.

Full details can be found at www.designmuseumgent.

Finn Juhl through One Collection. Here at CODE 10, Copenhagen

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

CH24 Wishbone Chair Hans J. Wegner Carl Hansen & Søn Sketch
April 9th, 2014 by smow

At the 1949 Copenhagen Carpenters Guild exhibition Hans J. Wegner presented his JH501 “Round Chair” for Johannes Hansen. Often referred to simply as “The Chair”, for many its basic yet expressive form reflecting perfection in chair design, the JH501 was the work with which Hans J. Wegner first reached a mass public and is in many ways the work that first established the international reputation of Danish design and which made Danish furniture “hip”.

Among those who saw the JH501 at the 1949 exhibition was the furniture dealer Eivind Kold Christensen, who subsequently asked Wegner if he could create something similar for the Odense based manufacturer Carl Hansen & Søn, something similar, but which in its construction would be adaptable for partial machine production and so less exclusive than the handmade JH501.1 An affordable chair for a mass public, as, for example, with Michael Thonet’s chairs.

Wegner readily agreed. And promptly created the CH24 Wishbone Chair, also known as the Y Chair, an object which bears little or no similarity to the JH501.

Other than the use of bent wood.

CH24 Wishbone Chair Hans J. Wegner Carl Hansen & Søn Sketch

Sketches by Hans J. Wegner of what would become the CH24 Wishbone Chair (Photo: Hans J. Wegners Tegnestue I/S, courtesy of Hatje Cantz Verlag)

As with all good design the Wishbone Chair looks effortless, yet this effortlessness hides a carefully planned and thoroughly thought through construction, a construction composed by a craftsman with not only a fine understanding of his craft but much more by one with a restless creative mind driven by a passion for improving works past.

As a student at the Copenhagen Arts and Crafts School Hans J. Wegner was introduced to the so-called Chinese Chair, a simple, common chair form that was to inspire and influence him his career long. In the mid 1940s he designed two “Chinese Chairs” for Fritz Hansen, the FH1783 and FH4282 2, and, as Christian Holmsted Olesen beautifully illustrates in “WEGNER – Just one good chair“, the Wishbone Chair can be seen as a further development of these works.

With a few important variations.

For all the characteristic “Y” shaped backrest element, a feature which allows the backrest to curve further out than would otherwise be the case, thus allowing a slightly longer, more organic backrest which gives the sitter more room than in, for example, Wegner’s Chinese Chairs or JH501. This backrest construction is aided and abetted by the rear leg, which extends forwards with a delicate, self confident, twist to support the backrest in the middle of the seat, thus avoiding the need for an additional, and potentially space constricting, supporting element at the front of the arms.
The result is a much more open, lighter form language, a chair that emits a welcoming calm that almost invites one to sit down.

In addition, with its much shorter arms the Wishbone Chair is more suitable for use at the dinning table than the JH501 – a deliberate design decision on Wegner’s part and one which solved one of the, for him, faults with “The Chair”3

The CH24 as an improvement on the perfect JH501, if you will.

Released by Carl Hansen & Søn in 1950 the Wishbone Chair took time to establish itself, but ultimately was to go on to become Wegner’s most commercially successful chair design.

To mark Hans J. Wegner’s centenary (smow) are offering the CH24 Wishbone Chair from Carl Hansen & Søn at celebratory prices. The offer applies to all oak and beech versions of the Wishbone Chair ordered before May 15th 2014.

And so while, much like Hans J. Wegner, you never be able to design just one good chair…. you can own one.

Full details can be found at

1. “Christian Holmsted Olesen”, WEGNER – Just one good chair”, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, 2014

2. ibid

3. ibid

CH24 Wishbone Chair Hans J. Wegner Carl Hansen & Søn

CH24 Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn

CH24 Wishbone Chair Hans J. Wegner Carl Hansen & Søn Side

CH24 Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn

Posted in Carl Hansen & Søn, Designer, Producer, Product, smow Tagged with: , , , ,

hans j wegner ox chair
April 2nd, 2014 by smow

Born on April 2nd 1914 Hans Jørgensen Wegner is without question one of the most important designers of the so-called Danish Modern movement.

Works such as the Peacock Chair from 1947, the 1949 JH501, an object often referred to simply as “The Chair” or his 1949 CH24 Wishbone Chair, his best selling creation, largely helping define Danish design in the 1940s and 1950s. Golden decades that still dominate the public persona of the Danish design tradition.

Hans Jørgensen Wegner is equally unequivocally one of the most academically neglected designers, and is, for example, the subject of considerably fewer books than his contemporaries.

And so it is especially welcome that to mark Wegner’s 100th birthday not only is the Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen staging one of the most comprehensive Wegner exhibitions ever conceived, but are also publishing an accompanying book on the designer and his work: WEGNER – Just one good chair.

WEGNER – Just one good chair Christian Holmsted Olesen Hatje Cantz Verlag

WEGNER – Just one good chair by Christian Holmsted Olesen, published by Hatje Cantz

Written by Christian Holmsted Olesen, the Designmuseum Danmark’s head of exhibitions and collections, and largely based on video interviews recorded with Wegner before his death and interviews with those who knew, understood and worked with Wegner, Just one good chair not only documents Hans J. Wegner’s journey from teenage carpentry apprentice to the Grand Doyen of 20th century Danish furniture design, but also contains a comprehensive, if not complete, register of Wegner’s works.

The first thing to say is that Just one good chair is a little too sickly sweet for our tastes. Olesen is clearly a fan of Wegner, and who isn’t, but the book is written in such uncritically positive tones, occasionally unbearably so, that it distracts from the subject at hand and, at times, almost turns the reader away from the designer. Wegner’s work doesn’t need the hagiography. Just explaining.

However, read through the sickly sweet prose and Just one good chair provides a comprehensive and very informative overview of Hans J. Wegner’s approach to his work and his understanding of his responsibilities.

For all his responsibility to the traditions of Danish carpentry.

Born in the southern Danish town of Tønder as the second son to shoemaker Peter Mathiesen Wegner and his wife Nicoline, Hans J. Wegner spent a considerable part of his early years hanging around his father’s workshop, whittling on odds and ends of wood, before leaving school at 14 to begin an apprenticeship with local carpenter H. F. Stahlberg. According to Olesen an important moment in the young Wegner’s career came in 1935 when, while completing his military service in Copenhagen, he visited the annual exhibition of the Copenhagen Carpenters’ Guild, and realised that if he was going to achieve his aim of becoming a Master Carpenter, he was going to have to seriously improve his skills. As a consequence, in 1936 Wegner enrolled in the carpentry class of the Kunsthåndværkerskolen, the Copenhagen Arts and Crafts School: an institution which he then left two years later to take up a position with Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller. In 1942 Hans J. Wegner established himself as freelance designer and architect. The rest, as they say…..

Although Wegner only attended the Arts and Crafts School for two years, as Christian Holmsted Olesen explains, in the course of these two years the foundations were laid on which Hans J. Wegner was to establish his career.

Firstly the teaching at the Arts and Crafts School was almost completely based on the design principles of the institutes guiding father Kaare Klint, an architect and designer with an almost fanatical addiction to traditional forms and traditional crafts. Although in his adoption of, for example, organic forms and suspended seats Wegner distanced himself from aspects of Klint’s thinking, in other respects, most notably his dogmatic adherence to handicrafts and his reference to established historical forms, Wegner clearly remained a designer influenced by Klint. An important aspect of the Arts and Crafts School’s concept was the measuring and drawing of historical furniture models. That the school was housed in the Designmuseum Danmark there were no shortage of examples to choose from, and during his time at the school Wegner was introduced to numerous chair forms which he regularly referenced in his own designs.

Although Kaare Klint was the guiding force behind the Kunsthåndværkerskolen, during Wegner’s time the school was under the directorship of Klint’s former pupil Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen, a man who not only to set up the position for Wegner with Jacobsen and Møller but who also introduced Wegner to the carpenter Johannes Hansen, with whom Wegner subsequently cooperated for 26 years and in whose workshops many of Wegner’s most important projects were realised. And perhaps most importantly it was Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen who in 1946 arranged a job for Wegner in Copenhagen, thus allowing him to return to the capital from his war time base in Aarhus. And so to resume his cooperation with Johannes Hansen, and so realise those projects that were to establish his reputation.

At the Kunsthåndværkerskolen Wegner also met Børge Mogensen, an man with whom he was to enjoy a lifelong friendship and professional relationship – even if, as Christian Holmsted Olesen makes clear, the two often had strongly opposing views on design questions. Although one must also add that in many respects these differences and the pair’s regular, or better put, constant, discussions, pushed both designer’s thinking forward and so helped them form their own, individual, approaches to design.

In addition to documenting the importance of the Arts and Crafts School to Wegner’s development Christian Holmsted Olesen also highlights and underscores the important role played in Wegner’s career by the Copenhagen furniture dealer Eivind Kold Christensen, the man who brokered Wegner’s contact to important commercial furniture producers of the period including Getama, A. P. Stolen and Carl Hansen & Søn, discusses Wegner’s, often too easily forgotten, development of low-cost furniture systems, explores the importance of Wegner’s three month tour of America in 1953 and also provides ample evidence that Hans J. Wegner clearly had something of a stubborn streak.

A stubborn streak which may of course also explain why the Ox Chair was his personal favourite amongst his chairs.

During his 1953 American tour, Olesen recounts, Wegner was approached with a proposal to have his work serially produced in America, and thus made available, at an affordable price, to a mass public au fait with organic design through the works of Eames, Saarinen et al. Wegner said no! For Wegner his furniture had been created to be made by craftsmen, by hand, in Denmark. Anything else was inconceivable. In the 1970s, however, the changed economic and market conditions in Europe meant that Wegner had to accept the partial machine production of his furniture. Albeit still exclusively in Denmark. These changing conditions also meant that Wegner’s preferred dark, tropical woods were no longer en vogue. Ejnar Pedersen, CEO of manufacturer PP Møbler, remembers that when they took over production of the Valet Chair from Johannes Hansen in 1991 he asked Wegner from which wood it should be made, “”pine and teak” replied Wegner, “we’ll never sell those” I said, “it must be maple.” “You and your maple”, answered Wegner, “do what you want!”. And so we made 50 in maple, 50 in mahogany and 50 in pine and teak. When the 50 in maple had been sold we had only sold 20 in mahogany and 20 in pine and teak”

Which all of course reminds us of Arne Jacobsen’s, initial, stubborn, refusal to make his three legged Ant Chair four legged as Fritz Hansen wanted. The subsequently developed four legged Series 7 chair of course going on to become Jacobsen’s most commercially successful chair.

Events which nicely highlight the perils of leaving certain decisions to designers alone.

In addition to Christian Holmsted Olesen’s text WEGNER – Just one good chair is richly illustrated, featuring some 240 photos including images of Wegner at work, impressions of his sketches and other art works in addition to numerous photos of Wegner’s furniture designs.

hans j wegner and his chairs

Hans J. Wegner relaxing amongst some of his chairs. (Photo: Hans J. Wegners Tegnestue I/S, courtesy of Hatje Cantz Verlag)

From the very beginning Olesen makes clear that part of the aim of Just one good chair is to de-construct the myth of Hans J. Wegner as simply a genial carpenter and instead present Wegner as an experimental designer, an artist and as a master of materials and construction with an especially strong affinity to form.

For us he succeeds. Partly.

Having read Just one good chair we don’t see Wegner as having been genuinely experimental in the classical sense. Olesen does however convincingly present a profile of a man who understood the traditions of Danish carpentry, understood the value of proven, established forms and who was one of the first practitioners to understand the importance of not only interpreting these proven, established forms in new, modern ways, but of also of re-interpreting the basic tenets of Danish carpentry. And who thus helped advance a new approach to furniture design and an aesthetic that perfectly complimented the uncompromising formality of the dominant modernist architecture of the period.

Wegner didn’t break the mould, he planed it down, layer for layer, and re-formed it with “almost provocative” curves.

The title of the book is a reference to a 1952 quote from Wegner, “If only you could design just one good chair in your life . . . But you simply cannot”

Wegner knew such was impossible, not because he couldn’t design chairs, but because, much like Egon Eiermann, he always felt one could do better, one could perfect what one had created, or as Olesen quotes him, “there is nothing that you can’t improve.” Just one good chair eloquently explains how Hans J. Wegner pursued this perfection.

As we say, informative and enlightening as Christian Holmsted Olesen’s text unquestionably is, it is, for us, a little too sweet; however, if you consider it as a literal butterscotch drizzled marzipan meringue torte, then it makes the perfect birthday cake.

Happy Birthday Hans J. Wegner!

WEGNER – Just one good chair by Christian Holmsted Olesen is published by Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern and is available in English and German.

The Danish version, WEGNER – bare een god stol, is published by Strandberg Publishing, København.

hans j wegner ox chair

Hans J. Wegner in his Ox Chair (Photo: Hans J. Wegners Tegnestue I/S, courtesy of Hatje Cantz Verlag)


Posted in Carl Hansen & Søn, Design Calendar, Designer, Producer, Product, smow bookcase Tagged with: , , , , ,

Hans J Wegner and Johannes Hansen JH550 PP550 The Peacock Chair
March 31st, 2014 by smow

April 2014, as every April we can ever remember, means Milanese purgatory.

Apparently it is meant to cleanse the soul, purify our thoughts and generally mitigate for the sins of the past, and so allow us to proceed to higher plains and greater virtues.

And boy must we have sinned. We can’t remember exactly when, far less how. We just hope we enjoyed it at the time. Because now we are paying.

When, if, we return these are the new design exhibitions we’re planning on visiting to help us recover.

“Sitting – Lying – Swinging. Furniture from Thonet” at the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts, Leipzig, Germany

As we have repeated on numerous occasions in the past, the back catalogue and archive of German manufacturer Thonet is of the kind to make the soul of even the most hardened design critic melt with longing. As one would, should, expect from a furniture manufacturer who have helped usher in two furniture design revolutions: the industrial production of furniture through mass-scale wood bending in the late 19th century and the use of bent steel tubing in the early 20th century.

The Grassi Museum for Applied Arts in Leipzig however have chosen to, more or less, ignore these moments, and so the first 130 years of the company history, and focus instead on furniture produced since the end of World War II in the company’s Frankenberg (Eder) base.

A decision that is as brave as it is commendable.

Presenting some 130 items the exhibition promises to present well known, lesser known and unknown works by the likes of Stefan Diez, Konstantin Grcic, Sir Norman Foster, Verner Panton or Alfredo Häberli.

The first ever major presentation of Thonet’s contemporary output Sitting – Lying – Swinging not only promises to allow a chance to place the more modern works in the company’s tradition and history but also to understand the role Thonet continues to play in the development of contemporary furniture design. We suspect it will also illustrate how, and why, the company lost its way a little in the wake of the the cultural and aesthetic rethinking of the 1980s, before regaining ground in the past decade.

Sitting – Lying – Swinging. Furniture from Thonet opens at the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts, Johannisplatz 5-11, 04103 Leipzig on Thursday April 17th and runs until Sunday September 14th.

Sitting – Lying - Swinging. Furniture from Thonet at the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts, Leipzig, Germany

The bar stool 404H and chair 404 by Stefan Diez awaiting lacquering at Thonet's Frankenberg (Eder) production facility.

“Otl Aicher – Ordnungssinn und Dolce Vita. Fotografien der 1950er Jahre” at the HfG-Archiv Ulm, Germany

Although best known as a graphic designer, and for all through his work for Braun, Lufthansa and the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, Otl Aicher was a classically trained sculptor and so was, unsurprisingly, active in other artistic fields. Including photography.

The first exhibition of Otl Aicher’s photography for many a long decade, Ordnungssinn und Dolce Vita is, in effect, two exhibitions in one skin.

The Ordnungssinn – Sense of order – is explored through a presentation of some 50 original prints from a recently rediscovered collection of Otl Aicher photographs from the 1950s. Largely depicting landscapes and “structures” the exhibition organisers promise that the displayed works will allow both a glimpse into how Aicher perceived and understood the environment around him and also document the spirit of change/chance of the 1950s.

In addition to the rediscovered works the exhibition will also (re)present an exhibition of Otl Aicher’s photos that was originally shown in the Ulmer Museum in 1959 and which, and assuming we’ve understood the exhibition information correctly, largely presents studies from a tour of Italy undertaken by Aicher, and which present the Dolce Vita of the 1950s that still dominates German impressions of Italy. A particular highlight, if you think like us, promises to be an image of a non-leaning tower of Pisa – an image that unifies Ordnungssinn and Dolce Vita.

Otl Aicher – Ordnungssinn und Dolce Vita. Fotografien der 1950er Jahre opens at the HfG Studio, HfG-Archiv, Am Hochsträß 8, 89081 Ulm on Friday April 11th and runs until Sunday October 12th

Otl Aicher Ordnungssinn und Dolce Vita. Fotografien der 1950er Jahre at the HfG-Archiv Ulm, Germany

Otl Aicher - Ordnungssinn und Dolce Vita. Fotografien der 1950er Jahre" at the HfG-Archiv Ulm (Photos: Otl Aicher © Florian Aicher / HfG-Archiv/Ulmer Museum, Germany)

“Okolo Offline” at Depot Basel, Basel, Switzerland

After what feels like an eternity, everyone’s favourite Basel based design collective finally return with a new exhibition. An exhibition devoted to everyone’s favourite Prague based design collective, Okolo.

Established in 2009 by Jakub Štěch, Matěj Činčera, Adam Štěch and Jan Kloss Okolo have spent the past five years designing, curating exhibitions and publishing – online and offline.

Okolo Offline promises to give 25 Okolo blog posts from the past five years a physical, tactile form and so – hopefully – help explain the group, their approach to and understanding of contemporary creativity and so introduce the collective and their work to a wider audience.

In addition to the exhibition itself Okolo Offline also marks the launch of MINUTE a series of short films on design history produced by Okolo.

Okolo Offline opens at Depot Basel, Voltastrasse 43, 4056 Basel on Friday March 28th and runs until Sunday April 27th.

Okolo Offline Depot Basel

Okolo Offline at Depot Basel...... Basel

“Ola Kolehmainen – Geometric Light” at Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany

“I use architecture as a starting point and source of inspiration, not as the ultimate final result. In fact my work is an examination of space, light and color, which reflect and question our way of looking at things.”

So explains the Finnish photographer Ola Kolehmainen his approach to his work. An approach that is as structured and methodical in its preparation as it is abstract and deconstructed in its result.

Until May 17th the Berlin gallery Haus am Waldsee is presenting Ola Kolehmainen’s latest project “Geometric Light” a series of photographs in which he ignores the buildings even more than before and concentrates on the light and shadow within and around the works.

Inspired and initiated by and during a tour of Spain in 2013 Geometric Light includes works from that Spanish tour in addition to photos originating, for example, in the Hagia Sophia.

Originating in. Not necessarily “of”……

Ola Kolehmainen – Geometric Light opens at Haus am Waldsee, Argentinische Allee 30, 14163 Berlin, Germany on Saturday April 5th and runs until May 17th

Ola Kolehmainen Konstruktivizm Infantil XII 2013

Ola Kolehmainen, Konstruktivizm Infantil XII, 2013 (© Ola Kolehmainen, Courtesy: Gallery Taik)

“WEGNER – Just one good chair” at the Designmuseum Danmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

Hans J. Wegner is one of the most important representatives of Danish modern design. We know this because it is invariably the opening sentence of any given Wegner biography.

Yet he remains a designer about whom there is a genuine dearth of reliable, insightful information. And certainly a subject of much fewer books and exhibitions than most of his contemporaries.

And so punctually to his 100th Birthday the Designmuseum Danmark Copenhagen are presenting the largest, most in depth exhibition devoted to Hans J. Wegner and his oeuvre ever staged.

Presenting some 150 exhibits, including original furniture, drawings, models and photographs, Just one good chair promises not only to explain Wegner’s life and work, but also through analysing Wegner’s contribution to the Danish design tradition also explain how Danish Modernism and Organic Modernism in general developed. And how that all led to the abiding myth of Danish Design as a style in its own right.

In addition to the Wegner objects, Just one good chair promises to round the history by juxtaposing Wegner’s work with that of his contemporary such as Charles & Ray Eames, Finn Juhl or Arne Jacobsen and contemporary designers including Jasper Morrison or Konstantin Grcic.

WEGNER – Just one good chair opens at the Designmuseum Danmark, Bredgade 68, 1260 Copenhagen on Thursday April 3rd and runs until Sunday November 2nd

Hans J Wegner and Johannes Hansen JH550 PP550 The Peacock Chair

Hans J Wegner (l.) and Johannes Hansen (r.) inspect a JH550/PP550 "Peacock Chair" (Photo: Designmuseum Danmark, Copenhagen)

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

Stone by Marcel Wanders for Kartell
August 7th, 2009 by julius
Holland. It all looks like this you know

Holland. It all looks like this you know

It’s not all hard work you know.

Just read a nice little article on dutch design portal in which Marie-Luce Bree, deputy director of the Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam, talks about their photo project “New Greetings From”; which basically follows the tried and tested method of getting members of the public to submit photos and then using the best to create an exhibition.

Stone by Marcel Wanders for Kartell

Stone by Marcel Wanders for Kartell

In detail, “New Greetings From” requests contributors to submit photos showing their interpretation of what Holland look like, and that the image is positive.

But hey isn’t everything in Holland!

And what does Holland look like? According to Marie-Luce Bree what often matters most to people is “nature, and even cows and tulips”


And on the “New Greetings From” website, we’ve even found a few windmills.

What we’ve yet to see, however, is much in the way of Dutch furniture design.

Panton Chair by Verner Panton for Vitra

Panton Chair by Verner Panton for Vitra

Which is a shame.

For while Denmark positively gloats over it’s furniture design heritage, Holland is much more reserved.
Go to Copenhagen, Aarhus or Aalborg and you can’t move without stumbling over the works of Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen or Hans Wegner.

Indeed, the last time we were in Copenhagen we saw so many Panton chairs everything we saw started to take on a flowing, wave form.

In Holland, however, the local appreciation of the designers is much less. And that despite the talent on offer, the presence of self-confident producers such as moooi or droog and the strong interest among Dutch people for well designed and crafted designer furniture.

Bovist by Hella Jongerius for Vitra

Bovist by Hella Jongerius for Vitra

At the end of the day original designer furniture is just as at home in Amsterdam as in Copenhagen.

So we’d like to say to the peoples of the Netherlands, take part in “New Greetings From”, but take pictures that do Hella Jongerius, Marcel Wanders or Mart Stam proud. Make your dutch designers as famous and as culturally important as the Danes there’s.

And yes it’s OK to photograph the furniture next to a windmill, if you really must.

Posted in Design Tourism, smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,