In the alpine regions of Europe the arrival of September marks the start of the Almabtrieb, that annual migration of the cattle, sheep and goats of the region from their high pastures to the valleys far, far below.
A migration undertaken because, as the cattle, sheep and goats of the alps innately understand, September is the month when the global architecture and design museum community (slowly) end their summer siesta and begin to invite us all to peruse their autumn/winter exhibition programmes.
And a migration that looks particularly worthwhile in September 2023, being as it is abloom with a crop of new showcases every bit as enticing and flavoursome as the herb rich pastures of any alpine alm. Indeed so bountiful is the September 2023 harvest we could have written two lists. For probity’s sake we stick with the one.
Our five reasons for saying Servus, Tschüs and Adieu to the fresh air and green, green, grass of the high alps and venturing into the city can be found in Frankfurt, New York, Kolding, Vienna and Malmö…….
“What August dosen’t do, September puts right”1 declared Johann Wolfgang Goethe.
And loathed as we are to contradict Goethe. He’s wrong.
August may be a time when one can allow oneself a little more freedom than the rest of the year; however, that which we call life is the actions, experiences, leanings, emotions of each month consecutively and sequentially building on, informing and evolving one-another, a month of inactivity is a month of moments missed, and hoping that September can in some form rectify for a laxness in August is wishful thinking.
And this year not particularly sensible: for as we all understand, that which we don’t do in August may come back to bite us in September.
Thus, on this occasion, ignore Goethe, and use August wisely, sagely and as a chance to get more out of September. And subsequently get more out of October. November. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Our five recommendations for meaningful things to do in August 2020, apart from regular hand washing, keeping abreast of local developments/advice and maintaining mutual respectful relations with those around you, can be found in Tallinn, Brussels, Malmö, Amsterdam and Berlin.
And as ever in these times, if you are planning visiting any museum or exhibition, 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….
Off late, and certainly in a European context, January has become a month of forgoing, eschewing and general abstention, with campaigns such as Dry January and Veganuary extolling us to utilise our guilt at our dangerous, decadent, gluttony of late December as an impetus to radically alter our behaviour, as a catalyst for reduction.
And while less is unquestionably more, and thus worth striving for, fundamental change is invariably more sustainably and meaningfully achieved through better understandings rather than by sudden, extreme, knee-jerk, changes; that more information can lead to less harmful choices. More information and better understandings such as those an architecture or design exhibition can provide.
We can’t promise the following five will necessarily change your (unhealthy) relationship to alcohol or food, they should however allow for new perspectives on the world around us, new perspectives which should allow for new reflections on your relationship to that world, and, potentially, a healthier, happier you. And a healthier, happier world. Potentially.
For Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince Summertime may very well be a “Time to sit back and unwind”, for us Summertime is when our year finally, finally, gets going.
While others spend the long hot days of summer on the beach, in the mountains, riding around in their Jeep, their Benzos, Nissan or eating pizza at Lorenzos, we’re to be found either riding backwards in trains, our eyes fixed firmly on the past as we race into the future, terrified that a metaphor is becoming an omen, or wandering the corridors, ateliers and workshops of European design schools, considering and reflecting on not only the students’ semester and graduation projects, but contemporary European design education, the positions of the coming generation of designers, and questioning if the world, the society, laid out before us is one we we want to be part off? Weeks of travel, reflection and existential anguish sustained by no more than our endless curiosity, more water than we consume the rest of the year and the promise of a (near) daily falafel.
That’s our “new definition of summer madness”
According to our old friend Roget possible synonyms for “August” include great, noble, impressive or worshipful.
We can’t promise the following quintet of exhibitions will exactly meet such qualities; however, they promise to be anything but frivolous, undignified or flighty explorations of their subject, and therefore certainly should be tending to the August in August 2019…….
The reason most of us fail to keep most of our New Year resolutions is, mostly, because we either resolve to give up things we enjoy or to do things we don’t.
Which is foolhardy in the extreme.
If you wanted to do more sport, you would.
If you wanted to eat less crisps, you would.
But don’t. And don’t. So don’t.
The wiser choice is to resolve to do more of that which you enjoy, and thereby not only setting yourself an achievable goal but one which through the genuine fulfilment it brings benefits you spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically; therefore, let us all, collectively, promise to visit more architecture and design exhibitions in 2019 than we did in 2018.
Our five starters for January 2019 can be found in Frankfurt, Malmö, New York, Berlin and Stuttgart……………..
Lilla torg, the square in Malmö old town which the Form/Design Center calls home, traces its history back to Malmö’s hanseatic days, the former market of yore having evolved over the centuries to become one large open air food court, bordered as it is on all sides by restaurants, bars and coffee shops, which spill gregariously out into the ever narrowing square.
The functional, ordered, democratic supply of provisions, having become a self-satisfying celebration of the same.
What would Émile Zola say?
And would the projects on show at the Form/Design Center’s 2018 Vårutställning – Spring Exhibition – of student graduation projects help lighten his humour…..?
If academics are to be believed, which admittedly seems unnecessary given the wealth of irrefutable facts available on Twitter and Facebook, February has always been a short and flexible month.
Initially non-existent – the contemporary January and February being once considered an indivisible “winter” – when the Romans decided to extend their calender, February was deliberately left shorter than all other months, largely for accounting purposes, that is, to allow it to be adjusted as the solar calender dictated. And nobody has seen fit to rectify that situation.
Nor do we.
And so maintaining this tradition, our 5 new architecture and design exhibition recommendations for February 2018 features but four……..
The September architecture and design exhibition recommendations are arguably the cruellest to write: the fact that the majority of the exhibitions end in the depths of the European winter meaning that as we sit here hoping that summer keeps going just a little, little, longer…. we’re forced to think about winter jackets and gloves.
And so before things get that far, best get out there and visit an exhibition!! Our five recommendations for September 2017 feature new exhibitions in Weil am Rhein, Los Angeles, Utrecht, Frankfurt and Malmö…….
It is fair to say that Malmö University wasn’t on our radar before we began our 2017 #campustour.
Which is in no way to detract from the institution, far from it, much more it highlights our ignorance. And also one of the aims of our tour, achieving a better understanding of contemporary European design education.