What is a chair?

You sure?

With the exhibition Chairs. For children only! the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Leipzig, explore the (hi)story of and developments in children’s seating, and in doing so not only allow for insights into an all too often undervalued, underappreciated, ignored, genre of furniture, but also forces you to reconsider your response to what you thought was a very, very straightforward question…

Chairs. For children only!, Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Leipzig

Although cultures very often arose in splendid isolation, only very few remained splendidly isolated for very long.

For much like a young child who having learned to walk intuitively understands what a powerful tool mobility is/can be and seeks to exploit it to the fullness of their abilities, so too did our youthful human civilisations very quickly understand that there was, in all probability, a world beyond their own, and began wandering, at first in their immediate vicinity but increasingly further afield. Increasingly beginning to settle in those further afields.

With the exhibition Cultural Affairs. Art without Borders the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig reflect on the thereby arising cultural exchange in context of art, craft and design…….

Cultural Affairs. Art without Borders Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Leipzig

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it is always June”, ponders Anne Shirley in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1915 novel Anne of the Island.

“You’d get tired of it”, sighs her adoptive mother Marilla Cuthbert by way of reply.

“I daresay”, responds Anne, “but just now I feel that it would take me a long time to get tired of it…”

Thoughts we very much concur with as we survey and contemplate the varied profusion of new architecture and design exhibitions sprouting forth in June 2021. Who could ever tire of such a joyous abundance? Who?

Our five recommendations from that early summer crop can be found in Leipzig, Hornu, Berlin, Bloomfield Hills and Chemnitz…….

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for June 2021

After a long, challenging, year the smow Song Contest finds itself exactly where it was: Rotterdam.

Not just the location, but the stage, the decoration, the costumes, even the bier en frieten exactly as they were twelve months ago.

The decisive, defining, difference between the 2020 smow Song Contest and the 2021 smow Song Contest being the new understandings, the new perceptions, the new perspectives, the new vitality, the new passions, the new desires, the new old new, articulated by the contest’s motto: Open Up!

smow song contest 2021

In a year in which the familiar glow of many a beloved cultural event is missing, one beacon continues to shine.

As a virtual, and in many regards virtual, event the smow Song Contest is one that can be staged regardless of prevailing physical social distancing regulations and physical travel restrictions.

And while virtual closeness and virtual travel can never, and must never be allowed to, replace the physical, the 2020 smow Song Contest does allow us all an opportunity to cross great distances, to come together, to stay safe, to stay responsible, but for all to stay dancing…..

smow song contest 2020

On March 6th 1927 the exhibition Europäisches Kunstgewerbe opened at the Grassimuseum Leipzig, not only a presentation of contemporary European applied arts but the inaugural exhibition in the museum’s (almost finished) new home on the city’s Johannisplatz.

With the exhibition Spitzen des Art déco the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig stage not only a presentation of European Art déco porcelain, but a reminder of both the Johannisplatz complex’s Art déco heritage and the vibrancy, colour and roar of the 1920s.

Spitzen des Art déco, Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Leipzig

For all the controversy surrounding smow Tel Aviv’s victory in the 2018 smow Song Contest, not least the question if there even is a smow Tel Aviv, the staging of the 2019 Contest in Israel does allow for a very nice reinforcing of the central theme of the 2019 smow Song Contest….

smow song contest 2019

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Enticed us into the following architecture and design exhibitions…….

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 98, From you have I been absent in the spring (extended, with apologies)

5 New Architecture & Design Exhibitions for April 2019

Much as ever increasing co-working is altering understandings of and relations to work practises and office spaces, so to is ever increasing co-habitation altering understandings of and relations to domestic practises and spaces.

Albeit domestic understandings that are altering without as much public discourse as afforded those occurring in the workplace.

With the exhibition Together. The new architecture of the collective the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig explore, and thereby allow for a focus on, contemporary communal living.

Poolhaus Vienna, as seen at Together. The new architecture of the collective the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig

Back in the day most everything was produced locally, every community had its network of producers, who not only produced but were also knowledge depositories for processes, materials, local conditions etc, etc, etc

Back in the day.

More recently production has become remote, goods being produced in anonymous factories, transported across continents, through innumerate staging posts, and thereby not only severing the link between producer and customer, but meaning ever fewer people understand how things are produced.

But could evolving cultural, social and ecological understandings open the way for a return to local production?

With the exhibition New Urban Production Halle 14 Leipzig explore possible future realities.

Cow&Co by Ottonie von Roeder Anastasia Eggers, as seen at New Urban Production, Halle 14, Leipzig

Rely too heavily on popular representations of design from Denmark and one could come to the conclusion that Danes only started designing objects in the late 1940s, so often is one presented with Danish design books, exhibitions and newspaper/magazine/blog articles that begin, self-evidently, post-War.

With their exhibition Made in Denmark. Design since 1900, the Grassi Museum of Applied Arts Leipzig demonstrate that design in Denmark does have a pre-war, and pre-design, history.

Made in Denmark. Design since 1900 @ Grassi Museum of Applied Arts Leipzig

Following smow Lisboa’s surprise victory in the 2017 smow Song Contest, the Portuguese capital is preparing to host the 2018 song contest: a contest being staged very much in context of the contemporary relevance of smow’s historic connections….

smow song contest 2018

The only FAQ not answered by the smow FAQs is the one that begins, “What is smow……..?”

And as smow grows and grows so too does the F with which the Q is A’d.

The answer in one sense is very simple, smow trade in furniture, lighting and home/office accessories through a series of showrooms and online shops. But that only partly explains “smow”. Doesn’t explain the how, who, why and wherefore. Nor the richness. Explaining the true smow is in many respects best achieved by exploring another trading institution whose superficial simplicity hides its true depth of character ….. The Hanseatic League.

Then as now the way to the top was difficult, but a challenge the succesful traders didn't shy away from.....

Visitors to the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig have long been able to rest on Jasper Morrison’s Vitra Bench, an object liberally distributed throughout the museum complex.

With the exhibition Thingness the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig offers visitors a deeper insight into Jasper Morrison’s oeuvre, and creative processes.

Jasper Morrison - Thingness @ Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig

In northern hemispheres June marks the start of both astronomical and meteorological summer.

In southern hemispheres June marks the start of both astronomical and meteorological winter.

The one rejoices, the other laments …. and we don’t even notice, far too busy as we are perusing architecture and design exhibitions. Our five recommendations for June 2017 features new shows in Den Haag, Frankfurt, New York, Leipzig and Brussels.

5 New Design Exhibitions for June 2017

It’s early May and once again the party ship we call the smow song contest is ready to set sail……

smow song contest 2017

S32 by Marcel Breuer for Thonet (Artistic Copyright since 1932, Mart Stam)

“…the strict, logical lines which avoid anything unnecessary and which with the sleekest form and through the simplest means embodies

Stuttgart reißt sich ab Architekturgalerie am Weissenhof, Stuttgart

Our five recommendations for new design and architecture exhibitions opening in June 2016 feature four in Germany and one in

November 2015 was a month of exhibitions, including Konstantin Grcic at the Grassi Museum Leipzig and Anton Corbijn at C/O

February 2015 saw us break new ground and make our first visits to Munich Creative Business Week, the magnificently monikered

On Leipzig’s Augustusplatz one can currently enjoy the wonders of the Leipzig Märchenland, the Leipzig Fairytale World. Alternatively, some 500m

The inclusion of a sheet steel bookend amongst our photos from the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts exhibition “Art Déco:

Vase with leaves from Fachschule Steinschönau (ca 1936), as seen at Art Déco: Smart, Precious, Sensual,Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig

All with an interest in and/or a desire to understand how historicism in architecture, art and design ceded to modernism

"Please touch!" at the Museum für Gestaltung – Schaudepot, Zürich

In the complete interview with Matylda Krzykowski ahead of the Depot Basel exhibition Forum for an Attitude, there is a

Margret Hoppe Le Corbusier High Court IV Chandigarh

Buildings are, somewhat logically, 3D. Photographs 2D. The challenge of architecture photography is transforming the 3D to 2D in such