In the northern Hemisphere May is a month of ritual; rituals primarily associated with the awakening of nature, the approaching of summer with the associated hope of a successful and bountiful harvest. And rituals which include, amongst many others, maypoles in various contexts, bonfires for various reasons and a myriad dances, including the traditional English children’s dance/game Nuts in May, with its repetition of the line “Here we come gathering nuts in May”… which obviously raises the pertinent question, which nuts can, could, should one gather in England in May? Or indeed anywhere in northern Europe in May? Are they not all a bit underdeveloped in May? Is gathering nuts in late summer, early autumn not a more worthwhile experience? As squirrels do.
So, children and adults alike, don’t waste your time looking for edible nuts in May and invest your time instead in visiting an architecture and/or design exhibition and thereby gathering fresh perspectives and insights in May.
Our five recommendations for new shows opening in May 2023 can be found in Hamburg, Rotterdam, Helsinki, Friedrichshafen and, once again, Rotterdam…….
“My work was… How would I put it?”, asks Yrjö Kukkapuro.
“Constant contemplation” he answers.1
With the exhibition Yrjö Kukkapuro – Magic Room Espoo Museum of Modern Art, EMMA, invite us all to contemplate on Yrjö Kukkapuro’s contemplations…….
“How did I end up going to technical school?” asked once the Finnish architect Wivi Lönn, rhetorically, “I had building in my blood, and it pulled me in.”1
With the exhibition Long Live Wivi Lönn! the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, help elucidate not only how that innate urge expressed itself, but also that for all the apparent ease contained in Lönn’s account of an innate urge being followed, for a Wivi Lönn, and for the great many Wivi Lönn’s over the past 200 years, it wasn’t that simple, if every bit as self-evident…….
Autumn is once more upon the Northern Hemisphere, that season of not only “mists and mellow fruitfulness”, but as a John Keats also reminds us the season of harvest, be that vine fruits, apples, gourds or hazelnuts.
Or the architecture and design exhibitions Keats didn’t mention. If, to be fair to him, they would have been largely unknown in 1819.
Unlike today; a today where after a long summer of waiting patiently, of observing from afar, and hoping, autumn traditionally presents a bountiful crop of new showcases to be consumed with gay abandon. And with plentiful thanks for the unseen work that led to their creation.
And Autumn 2022 is no exception. After a summer of growth and development and careful tendering the global architecture and design museums are once again brimming and overflowing with fresh, invigorating, nourishing delights to suit all tastes.
Our pick of the new crop in October 2022 can be found in Paris, New York, Brussels, Helsinki and Rome…….
As here in the northern hemisphere winter cedes to spring, not only is nature once again reawakening from its long repose but so too is the international museum community; and that, one senses, with more vigour than in the most recent springs where the Covid pandemic induced upsetting of the established order of the museal ecosystem, through both enforced closures and fundamental disruptions of essential exhibition development processes, dimmed somewhat the promise of the annual spring blush.
In spring 2022, one sense from wandering through the global museum landscape, the vitality, and for all variety, has returned to that landscape.
Which is to be welcomed, for little is as effective in helping us all broaden our minds, expand our perspectives, appreciate unseen associations, free us from prejudices, develop as human beings and as members of a functioning society, than a good museum exhibition. For while a good TV programme or a good podcast can inform, they tend to do so in definitives and in an unyieldingly linear fashion: they tell, they know, just how things were, are, will be. And in their telling tend to leave you bereft of tools of your own. A good museum exhibition in contrast gives you information but primarily bequeaths you a framework in which to develop your own understandings and positions, to question, to challenge, to expand on that which is presented; ’tis but a invitation to let your mind wander as it sees fit. And that in an environment which is devoid of time and space, where you are free to jump about as you wish, go back, rush forward. Stop.
Start again somewhere else
noiɈɔɘɿib bɘɈɔɘqxɘnυ nɒ ni ɘvoM
Discover new, uncharted, paths.
Thus whereas you can leave a TV programme or a podcast with new information on the subject at hand; you can leave a well organised exhibition not only with new information on the subject at hand, but with your thoughts immersed in a completely different subject and with your mind stimulated, receptive, restless.
And broad, receptive, questioning, unihibited, objective minds freed of definitives are very, very, important at this moment in global (hi)story.
Thus, get thee to an exhibition!
Our five recommendations for exiting the space-time continuum in April 2022 can be found in Essen, Brussels, Stockholm, Linz and Helsinki…….
Following the declaration of the French Republic in 1792 a new calendar was introduced in the realms of France: the Revolution had washed away France past and the Republic marked the start of a new reality for mankind, one of universal Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, and therefore demanded a resetting of the collective clock, a new measuring of time, and thus out went the Gregorian calendar and its historic associations with church and state, and in came le calendrier républicain, the French Republican Calendar.
And while, yes, one can consider the belief amongst the new republicans in the eternal gloriousness of the coming future as somewhat naive, one must remember that we can reflect on their optimism with the benefit of over 200 years hindsight and experience.
The argument for a new calendar appears however as compelling and self-evident as it must have done at its adoption on October 24th 1793. Or 3 Brumaire II, as we believe le calendrier républicain would date the day of its adoption.
Aside from its ten day week, an early attempt at bringing decimalisation to our time keeping, and the bequeathing of every day its own unique name, the principle difference between the Gregorian and Republican calendars is the move from the 12 months of varying lengths inherited from the Romans to twelve months each comprising thirty days, three ten day weeks, and the renaming of the months to give them a connection to nature rather than to Romans: the period between 19/20th February and 19/20th March, that period in which we find ourselves at the time of writing, being known as Ventôse, from venteux, windy, and was preceded by Pluviôse, rainy, and followed by Germinal, germination
Which all strikes us as particularly apposite as we move towards the next phase of our post-pandemic society; as a fresh wind blows the global rain clouds away and ushers in a period of re-birth and springing forth. Yes, such optimism may be as naive as that of the French revolutionaries, but we have a much better understanding of history today, and for all a much better understanding of the sense and logic in, utter necessity of, making use of the myriad lessons of history in order to avoid the pitfalls and follies of the past, and to allow us to chart an untroubled course forward……oh…..hang on……
Although, now is as good a time as any to start. The theory is known, we just need to move into the practice. And so given that all nations and all peoples have had their Corona tribulations should we not think about re-setting our global clocks, starting afresh at a new global year zero for a new global society?
We’ll leave others more qualified than us to work out the practicalities and technicalities, and decide on the basis of the nomenclature, and instead recommend here four new exhibitions scheduled to open in Germinal CCXX, and thus, one hopes, once the winds of Ventôse have begun to do their job, and also recommend a radio station that’s been online since the rains of Pluviôse….
In 1936 Aino Aalto opined that “homes can be given interior design in other ways than before – not by buying expensive complete suites of furniture, but by concentrating on low-cost furnishings which can be used – with the aid of flowers, carpets, drapery and colours – to create hitherto more practical and more comfortable homes.”1
A break not only with the understandings, the ways, of generations long past in terms of what constitutes appropriate furniture; but also a break with the ways of many of the functionalist modernist practitioners of the immediately preceding decade in terms of what constitutes an interior design.
And an opinion, an understanding, which underscores why Aino Aalto stands as an important moment in the (hi)story of interior and furniture design…..
To paraphrase the Propellerheads, this is just a little bit of a blog post repeating…
For much as with our November 2020 exhibition recommendations, so some of our December 2020 exhibition recommendations won’t be opening. Or at least not in December 2020.
But then as now are in still in our list.
On the one hand because they will open, and is an important part of any pleasure not the expectation and anticipation?
And on the other hand, because that which makes an exhibition recommendable in advance of its opening, that which makes its anticipation and expectation so pleasurable, is that it promises to present a rarely explored subject and/or promises to explore a regularly presented subject from a new and/or fresh and/or deeper perspective. And thus a recommendable exhibition is also a nudge that there may be more to learn and understand about architecture and design than you were aware of. And thus a stimulus for your own research. And what better season than winter for that research?
Our five recommendations/stimuli/nudges for December 2020 can be found in Berlin, Vienna, Helsinki, Rome and St Petersburg.
And as ever in these times, if you do feel comfortable visiting any museum, please familiarise yourself in advance with the current ticketing, entry, safety, hygiene, cloakroom, etc rules and systems. And during your visit please stay safe, stay responsible, and above all, stay curious….
We thought long and hard as to if we should continue our online exhibition recommendations series, or go back to offline exhibitions…… and decided for a return to offline.
We fully appreciate that in a lot of countries museums are still closed, as indeed are the international borders that you would normally and naturally criss-cross for a short city break to visit those that are open; however, many museums are open, many more are planned/planning to open in the course of June, and interesting and informative as online presentations can be, viewing an exhibition in a museum is the more satisfying experience, the more rewarding experience, the more enduring experience. And an important experience.
As we oft opine, museums aren’t just about collecting and preserving the past, nor just additions, adornments, to cafés and gift shops; rather they are locations for discourse, contemplation and reflection. Locations in which not only subjects which, in the overhyped, overheated marketplace of contemporary media may never find an audience, can be allowed to tell their story, can in many cases be allowed to reclaim their place in our (hi)story, but locations where subjects can be approached not only from a multitude of perspectives simultaneously, but from new, contradictory and often otherwise unachievable perspectives, and that without prejudice, bias or a commercial necessity to conform to some preconceived narrative.
Admittedly not every exhibition manages that, many do succumb to an egoistic desire to be a “blockbuster” and thus present an accepted, tourist gaze, presentation of their subject; but there is no reason why every exhibition cannot discuss lesser illuminated subjects without fear or favour.
And when museums do such, and do such well, do such with honesty and impartiality, they become locations which invite, encourage and enable you to extrapolate on that which is presented and to carry your thoughts and arguments over into other arenas and areas, and thereby helping us all approach better understandings of ourselves, individually and collectively, and of the world around us, the innate natural and that which human society has created. While also improving our knowledge of the subject at hand. Clarifying that you may not have understood a subject as completely as you believed you did.
And that’s not an experience and opportunity that one should ever undervalue or neglect. And certainly never stop searching for.
While specifically in context of design exhibitions; for all that online exhibitions can and do offer, there is simply no substitute to being in the presence of a physical object, nor can we imagine there ever will be.
And so while all museums remain virtually open 24/7, and we’d encourage each and everyone of you to use museums’ online services as tools and resources; the fact that many are physically open is much more important. And something to be treasured and made use of.
If made use of with appropriate awareness and sensibility at this moment. Therefore, if you feel comfortable visiting a museum, please before doing so (a) check in advance to ensure that it is actually open, short-term changes can occur and (b) familiarise yourself in advance with ticketing, entry, safety, hygiene, etc rules and systems. And during your visit stay safe and responsible. And receptive for new ideas, new opinions, new names, new perspectives, new connections, new understandings……
Whereas in the natural world spring ushers in new life but once a year, in the design museum world re-awakenings are biannual: a spring spring as curators awake from their winter hibernation and an autumn spring as they awake from their summer dormancy. Both bringing forth not only the promise of growth, energy, of a new esprit, of new experiences, new sensations, but confirming the eternal nature of existence, that we are but a moment on an endless spiralling continuum…….
Our five new stimulations for September 2019 can be found in Berlin, Helsinki, Weil am Rhein, Stockholm and ‘s-Hertogenbosch…….
If Jean-Claude Juncker gets his way October 2018 could see the clocks of Europe turned back an hour for the final time.
And thereby bringing to an end the long tradition of local newspapers publishing bi-annual articles documenting the curious tales and legends of town clocks, stories from the Schwarzwald on the largest and smallest cuckoo clocks, and photographs of horologists surrounded by the 350+ clocks and watches they need to reset.
For our part, we’ll miss them.
It will also mean you won’t have that extra hour the last Sunday in October to enjoy an extra leisurely visit to an architecture and/or design exhibition, so take the chance while you can…..
Our five recommendations for using that extra hour in October 2018 can be found in Hamburg, Weil am Rhein, Zürich, Paris and Helsinki.
For George Orwell nothing heralded spring quite like the re-appearance of toads, emerging from their subterranean hibernation and setting off, once again, on life’s great cycle.
Our toads are the flurry of new design and architecture exhibitions which open globally every March, as the international museum and gallery community awake from their winter slumber.
Our highlights for March 2017, featuring new exhibitions in Bielefeld, Helsinki, Weil am Rhein, Utrecht and Paris
Our pick of the new architecture and design exhibitions opening in January 2017, with showcases in Cologne, New York, Rotterdam, Atlanta and Helsinki.
O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild* You’d be
If the etymologists are to be believed “April” has its origins in the Latin verb “aperire”. To uncover, to open.
As old Mother Goose, allegedly, once claimed: Thirty days hath September, and the following five enticing new design and architecture
“Father of Eero…..” So or similar is in many circles the accepted form for referring to the Finnish architect and
Nothing scares us quite like January. It wouldn’t be so bad if convention didn’t insist on the additive progression of
If etymologists are to be believed the name “June” is derived from the Latin word iuniores – younger, so junior
Mayday! Mayday! Don’t panic. It’s just a public holiday. You’ll survive. Barbecue something…… And afterwards, when everyone else is back