In 1981 Irish stadium rockers U2 noted of October:
“And the trees are stripped bare,
Of all they wear”
That of course was 1981, before the, then approaching but much less tangible, irreversible consequences of climate change meant that the trees in Ireland, and across Europe, still proudly wear their leaves throughout October. A new reality that, we’d argue, may soon see U2 forced to rename the song ‘November’.
A reality, and a coming renaming, that sets the final line of the opening verse:
“What do I care?”
in a new, a troubling, and an important light.
One we all need to think about.
And little stimulates thoughts on contemporary and future society, contemporary and future relationships with the world around us, both the natural and humanmade, and forces a questioning of what we want, why we want it, and if we care, quite like an architecture and/or design exhibition.
Our five recommended new exhibition openings in October 2023 can be found in Chemnitz, Hornu, London, Brussels and Milan…….
In July 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and as Neil Armstrong stepped from the Eagle lunar module he announced it was, “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”.
And inarguably it was. And was.
But what has it brought mankind?
Apart from an awful lot of conspiracy theories. And an ongoing fascination with space that drives the irrational belief that in the 21st century we urgently require everything which appeared in 1950s and 1960s science fiction comics and films in order to have happy, functioning societies.
Yes, it also brought us Gil Scott-Heron’s, ever glorious, and still very relevant, Whitey on the Moon; a work that through it’s continuing, unabated, undiluted, relevance reminds us all how little Apollo 11 has brought mankind.
Other small steps can, we’d argue, be much more meaningful. Can enable longer leaps in more meaningful directions.
Such as the small step into an architecture or design museum; a step that can, will, inform and entertain, can, will, allow fresh insights and perspectives, can, will, cause a questioning and reflection: and thereby, potentially, enable the development of differentiated thoughts and appreciations on the now and on that now still to come. And perhaps in doing so quell a few conspiracy theories. And so allow for the development of a future worthy of the name.
Our five featured short steps for July 2023 can be taken in Stuttgart, New York, Hornu, London and Berlin…….
According to the 6th century CE antiquarian John the Lydian, “the oracle recommends drinking milk for the sake of good health all through the month of September”.1
And while milk may have advantages in terms of your physical health, for your spiritual and intellectual health, we’d recommend the following quintet of new architecture, design and art exhibitions opening in September 2021.
Whereby, exhibitions and milk aren’t mutually exclusive, you can partake of both if you so wish……
“We must endeavour to introduce a little order into this business, or at least sense into a great deal of it. But what is sense without order? We must try to find some method of arriving at some sort of order – one that will at least enable us to escape from this vagueness in the design of colour”, opined Amédée Ozenfant in 1937.1
And had an idea or two as to the how…….
More or less……
….. Back in May 2019 the sheer number of new architecture and design exhibitions opening globally allowed us to produce two recommendations lists: one featuring exhibitions with a strong Bauhaus/inter-War Modernism focus, and one more general, less focussed.
Spring forward five months and with the global museum community now fully awoken from their summer slumber we once again find ourselves with a cornucopia of new exhibitions that invites two lists. An invitation we would consider rude to decline.
In May we started with the more general exhibitions and so this time it seemed only fair to begin with new exhibitions in Berlin, Weimar, Cottbus, London W1 and London E17 that explore Bauhaus and inter-War modernism in a relatively wide sense, but then the wider the sense, the more detailed the understanding….
“Beware the Ides of March” Julius Caesar was, allegedly, advised by the soothsayer Spurinna. And he probably wished he had. March 15th seeing his death at the hands of some 60 Senators, a death which led to civil war as opposing forces sought to control Rome’s destiny.
“Beware the 5th of the Calends of April” a modern day Spurinna would no doubt warn the good folks of the United Kingdom. March 29th looking as it is like being an equally fateful day.
But while Caesar could have taken steps to prevent his demise, the fate of the good folks of the United Kingdom is out of their hands, they must wait and see what an ideologically driven group of some 60 Conservative
Senators MPs have in store…….
And while we all wait, what could be more enriching than that which helps set the temporality of politicians’ decisions against the irrepressible force of social and cultural evolution; a force parliamentarian laws can delay but never stop, and a truth one finds elegantly mirrored in architecture and design.
Our five recommendations for new exhibitions opening in March 2019 can be found in Frankfurt, Brussels, Chemnitz, London and Magdeburg.
If you are planning visiting an architecture or design museum, anywhere in the world, in 2019, it will be staging a Bauhaus themed special exhibition. Guaranteed. There are literally millions of them lined up. If not billions.
Which is no complaint. Or at least not unless they are exhibitions based on formulaic, lazy clichés. Then it is very much a complaint. But if they are exhibitions which take open, honest and unblinkered views on either the institution as a whole or a specific, ideally, under researched, aspect of the institution, and of course remember that it is 100 years Bauhaus Weimar, and not 100 years Bauhaus Dessau, then it is no complaint.
Consequently, December 2018 could be your last chance to experience anything else for a goodly while.
Our Bauhaus free recommendations or December 2018 can be found in Vienna, Dortmund, New York, London & San Francisco……..
According to Germanic lore, “ein guter Septemberregen kommt nie ungelegen“, a good rain in September is never inopportune.
This year arguably more so than ever.
Similarly a good architecture and design exhibition in September is never inopportune.
And, and keeping with rain metaphors, while we can all remember what rain is, September 2018, sees a proper downpour of new architecture and design exhibitions. A downpour that is particularly opportune. Following July’s drought and its meagre 4 recommendations we have a ongoing deficit of one in our annual quota, the current deluge however means that for September 2018 we can present 6.
And so grab your umbrellas and take yourselves to an architecture and/or design exhibition this September. Our recommendations can be found in Kolding, Munich, London, Herford, Moscow and Weil am Rhein……..
Our visit to the 2017 Royal College of Art London Graduate Show was one of the more sobering moments of our 2017 #campustour.
Or as we wrote then, “…in a world controlled by RCA graduates every, but every, aspect of our lives will be controlled by autonomous smart technology. We will literally lose the ability to think for ourselves. The human brain will become the appendix of the 21st century.”
Donning a hat fashioned from aluminium foil and an old metal sieve, we headed once more to South Kensington……
Writing to his friend Heinrich Köselitz in August 1881 Friedrich Nietzsche remarked, “My dear friend! The August sun hangs over us, the year drifts by, it is quieter and more peaceful on the mountains and in the forests. On my horizon thoughts have arisen, the likes of which I have never known….”
We like to imagine that those thoughts arose through his having visited an architecture and/or design exhibition. Were he still with us, we’d suggest he visited the following vista extending showcases opening in Saint Petersburg, Weil am Rhein, Rostock, London and Hasselt….
The building which Central Saint Martins calls home was erected in 1852 as store for grain arriving from Lincolnshire and awaiting its further distribution to London’s bakers.
Was, if you like, a transfer point, a hub, a location where general ideas became specific solutions, a place industry and trade called upon when needing raw materials for their latest project, a source for those whose work helped support and nourish the populace, a central institution in the development of the city and one, thereby, directly related to the immediate needs and interests of society.
We’re sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, somewhere, but where…….? Would a visit to the 2018 Central Saint Martins’ Degree Show help us locate it…….?
Tracing its history back to 1899 the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design a.k.a The Cass has an established place in the (hi)story of English design, for all in woodcraft based design including toys, music instruments and furniture.
But as we all know a long history and illustrious alumni are poor hooks on which to hang the future of an institution, much more robust are the current staff, students and their work.
The 2018 Cass Summer Show allowed some insights into the contemporary Cass……
On our recent #campustour we didn’t only view the students’ works, and chat to students about their works, we also spoke to members of the design schools’ teaching staff about their motivations, methods, experiences and views on contemporary design eduction.
Ultimately if you want to understand contemporary design education, you have to understand contemporary design educators.
Whereby one of the peculiarities of design eduction is that any given school’s staff is a mix of full time staff members and practising designers who teach selected courses, or in the case of designer Peter Marigold a whole Studio, the central teaching concept at the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, or the Cass London as it more familiarly known.
As an institution London’s Royal Albert Hall teaches us that regardless how illustrious and prestigious your history may be, you can never rest on your laurels, you are only ever as relevant and interesting as your next programme, as your next soloist..
With the 2017 Graduate Show the Royal Albert Hall’s next door neighbour, the equally illustrious and prestigious, Royal College of Art unveiled its 2017 programme and 2017 soloists.
But would there be a standing ovation…
Sited in the gentile calm of Pimlico, Chelsea College of Arts sits between the independent free-thinking of the Tate Britain, the original Tate with its collection of British and international art from 1500 until today, and the state control and surveillance of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, in their unobtrusive bunker on the opposite bank of the Thames
But where would the conformity/rebellion equilibrium be found amongst the current crop of Chelsea students…….
Few materials can have claimed to have influenced architecture and design in quite the way plywood has.
And thereby remained as anonymous as plywood, easily overlooked in public and barely researched in an academic context as it is.
With the exhibition Plywood: Material of the Modern World, the V&A Museum London aim to redress both.
The Cass is situated in London’s Whitechapel, not far from the East London Mosque and in an area long a centre of London’s Muslim community. The day we visited the Cass Summer Show it was Eid al-Fitr, a festival of family, feasts and finery. The narrow streets of Whitechapel awash with smartly attired, good humoured locals, or possibly just smartly attired locals high on sugar, for Eid al-Fitr is also a festival of sweetness at the end of Ramadan.
Cakes and sweets as far as the eye could see. And far, far beyond.
But would we find any bonbons in the Cass Summer Show…….
“What are you going to do this summer, Amory?”, Tom D’Invilliers asks of Amory Blaine in F Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise.
“Don’t ask me”, comes the somewhat languid reply, “same old things, I suppose. A month or two in Lake Geneva — I’m counting on you to be there in July, you know — then there’ll be Minneapolis, and that means hundreds of summer hops, parlor-snaking, getting bored…..”
Sorry Amory, but you’ll have to survive the magnificence of Lake Geneva on your own, would have been our response. We’ve got new design and architecture exhibitions in London, Berlin, New York and Holon to visit!
But we’ll definitely catch up with you afterwards in Minneapolis for a bit hopping and parlor-snaking…….
Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue…..
Life is so simple as a child.
Yet whereas in almost all other respects the progression to adulthood is one of simplicity to complexity, in terms of our understanding of colour we never lose our inner child.
With the exhibition Breathing Colour at the Design Museum London the Dutch designer Hella Jongerius encourages us to sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow new.
She came from Greece, had a thirst for knowledge, studied sculpture at St Martins College and, according to Jarvis Cocker, had no understanding of the brutal realities of late 1980s British society.
Thirsty to know if the 2017 Central St Martins design graduates were more grounded in their contemporary reality, our 2017 #campustour headed to North London….
On May 1st 1851 Queen Victoria opened The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park London: the first “World’s Fair”, an event which celebrated the advances of the industrial age, and whose influence on industry, engineering, science, architecture and society was to resonate globally for decades, acting as it did as the motor for the quickening technological advances of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. While the profit generated from the 6 million visitors allowed for the construction of London’s Science Museum, Natural History Museum and neighbouring Victoria and Albert Museum.
If any of the numerous architecture and design exhibitions opening globally in May 2017 will become quite so pivotal remains to be seen. Our top five can be found in Hamburg, Atlanta, Amsterdam, London and Stuttgart.
Five recommendations for new architecture and design exhibitions opening in December 2016, featuring shows in Copenhagen, Weimar, Nürnberg, London and Munich
According to Axl Rose, “…it’s hard to hold a candle, in the cold November rain.” The question is surely, why
Whereas April showers tend to make you wet, grumpy and late, May showers are much more agreeable – or more
Normally October is all about design festivals, October 2015 wasn’t. On the one hand we weren’t at that many this