As we noted, almost exactly 12 months ago, although we here at smow Blog are more or less fully up and running again after the Covid enforced disruption, the extremely complex nature of the smow Blog machinery means that there are still a few elements of the whole that are awaiting a proper re-boot, including, as we noted almost exactly 12 months ago, our famed, and falafel fixated, annual #campustour through European design school summer exhibitions.
Which doesn’t mean that we aren’t visiting design school summer exhibitions. We very much are. Nor does it mean we aren’t eating falafel. We very much are. Just means we’re doing so in a much less structured, less coherent, manner. And means that we don’t always have the time and space to post from those showcases we visit. But do always try. Last year, admittedly, our attempts didn’t get much beyond Weimar. And (nominally) Brussels. Although we were at a great many more.
This year we’re hoping for a much improved number of postings, starting in Hamburg and the Hochschule für Bildende Künste’s 2023 Graduate Show, Unfinished Business…….
“For men who have to write a lot, and over prolonged periods, a desk at which they can work standing up is an indispensable piece of furniture for altering their posture and for maintaining their health”, opined Journal der Moden in May 1786. An age when, famously, only men wrote.
Yet advantageous and positive as standing to write was, prolonged standing could, as Journal der Moden notes, lead to tiredness.
A solution was however at hand for all who preferred working at a standing height desk over a prolonged period: a chair, “or a so called donkey … on which one sits as if on a saddle, and which must be just high enough that one can sit half-standing…”1
A half-standing sitting solution whose nickname can be readily derived from the proposed sitting position.
And a half-standing sitting solution that for all it is thoroughly familiar today, was novel, one could almost argue revolutionary, and even enlightened, in 1786…….
We were obviously off ill on the day of the great global public debate about whether, given the myriad problems of contemporary societies, our resource emergencies, and the effortless manner in which we’ve managed to turn the Internet, the greatest tool ever placed at the disposal of a member of the Animalia, into a platform for hate and vanity and greed and crime; if given all that, if we all wanted to, if we all should, move to the Metaverse.
But that debate must have occurred, for the decision has been made; and ever since global society decided of its own free will that we should all move to the Metaverse those Californians who hope to reap billions of dollars from our presence there, can’t stop extolling just how utterly brilliant it’s all going to be.
Which means that slowly we do all need to start reflecting on our furniture for the Metaverse, start considering how we’re going to furnish the Metaverse once we get there……
Familiar as our objects and rituals of daily life are to us, to someone from the 16th century they would appear most, most, odd, just as their familiar 16th century objects and rituals would appear most, most, odd to someone from the 11th century: yet as Simon & Garfunkel teach us “that’s not unusual, No, it isn’t strange”, for as societies develop they acquire new objects and rituals, daily life continually evolves anew alongside, and in conjunction with, new objects and new rituals. And if we were to be acquainted today with objects and rituals from future societies we would consider them most, most, odd.
With the exhibition New Normals at Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Konstantin Grcic presents some exceedingly odd things and in doing so invites us all to reflect on the fact that that which is not yet, will one day be…….
According to Germanic folklore, “If January is frosty and cold, a green woodland will soon entice us”.
The implication being that a severe January is the necessary pre-requisite not only for a timeous spring bursting forth with new life, but also for a warm, (meteorologically) settled, summer.
But in the frost and cold and dark and endlessness of January that green (deciduous) woodland is still a long way off, is unimaginable, is unreachable, is almost mythical; however, protection, and distraction, from January can always be found in the warmth and stimulation and light of a good architecture or art or design exhibition.
Our five enticing shelters from the climatic vagaries of January 2022 can be found in Berlin, Humlebæk, Bloomfield Hills, Moscow and New York…….
At Orgatec Cologne 2016 Vitra staged, in effect, their own trade fair, renting an entire hall and inviting family and friends along to share the space and their ideas on the future of work.
And obviously had a lot of fun and/or success with the concept.
For at Orgatec Cologne 2018 they once again staged the Vitra Fair……. Work
As previously, and repeatedly, noted, one of the defining aspects about an office furniture fair such as Orgatec Cologne is that wherever one looks one sees a similar vista. Whereas in terms of domestic furnishings there are enough genres of furniture and interpretations of those genres to allow for a, at least relatively when not necessarily satisfyingly, varied landscape, office furniture is much more limited, not only doesn’t have the variety of genres, but has a few that are essentials; consequently every manufacturer has very similar product lines, every manufacturer has, for example, a height-adjustable desk, a sofa with high sides, a desk height rocking stool, a modular bench system, and an office chair with flat, slightly organic quadratic armrests that resemble cutlery Georg Jensen may have produced in the 1960s. The differences are, generally, to be found in terms of mechanisms, connection systems, interfaces, materials or textiles, so very technical aspects. Very important aspects, very fundamental aspects, but things that aren’t necessarily instantly visible. Hence the visual monotony. And aspects which when explored in detail aren’t always that interesting/innovative/engaging/sensible/relevant/practical/functional/etc. It’s a tiring, thankless, business working your way through such a landscape.
Particularly a landscape such as Orgatec 2018 which was, at least as we experienced it, largely about consolidation, about manufacturers extending existing product families or presenting existing products in new materials, new textiles, new colours, new fragrances, etc, etc…..
Which isn’t to say it wasn’t a thankless and fruitless task, just thankless, and thus, and with the standard disclaimer that we have invariably missed numerous genuine highlights, a smow blog Orgatec Cologne 2018 High 5!!
Milan Furniture Fair 2018, at least amongst those more design led manufacturers, is/was largely about consolidation, largely about new materials, new colours, slight changes to existing objects, with one or the other family proudly presenting their latest members. Which is no complaint, far from it, Milan’s speciality traditionally being the new for the sake of the new, that misguided belief that one has to present something new every year. You don’t. Present something new when you’ve got something new to say, something new to contribute, something meaningful.
Largely ≇ exclusively and there were a few new projects to be found which did have something new to say, did have something new to contribute, were something meaningful. If not enough for a handful. Sure we could have added another project just to compete the quintet, there being no shortage of candidates to choose from, but then just as we don’t expect manufacturers to publish for the sake of the new rather for the quality, so we don’t publish for the sake of the five….
As ever we didn’t see everything, have without question missed things we shouldn’t have missed, things we will regret missing later, apologies all round, but, and with that in mind, our Milan Furniture Fair 2018: High Four!!
Nightclubs and discos are not only about entertainment and sensory overload, but also provide a society with means of expression and reflection.
With the exhibition Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein explore five decades of club culture.
Backrests appeared to be a major feature of those new products Konstantin Grcic presented at Milan Furniture Fair 2017. Or perhaps better put, from those new product we saw by Konstantin Grcic, we interpreted the backrest as being central components. But it wasn’t all about backrests, a few thoughts on new products for Magis, Plank, Flos and Mattiazzi.
As older readers will be well aware, little gets us down quite like Milan Furniture Fair. Every year our only wish as we cross the Alps is that we will find something to make us thankful that we did. Milan Furniture Fair 2017 produced more such moments than the average year, which we suppose means we’ll be back next year!!
Our Milan Furniture Fair 2017 High Five!!
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