The German town of Boppard sits on two of the most pronounced and prominent curves on the Mittelrhein.
Can it be a coincidence that Boppard’s most famous son, Michael Thonet, is most popularly known for his curving bentwood chairs?
Can it really be a coincidence?
Possibly. Almost certainly.
What is less contentious is that the flow and meandering of first Michael Thonet’s creativity and vigour and subsequently that of the company Thonet has carved its mark not only on
the Rhenish Massif furniture design and on understandings of furniture, but also the furniture industry, from production to sales and distribution.
With the exhibition Thonet & Design the Neue Sammlung Munich embark on a voyage along some 200 years of Thonet design (hi)story.
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….
While the shortlist of exhibitions for this column is regularly long, that for May 2019 was particularly so.
And particularly tricky. Perusing it we saw no realistic chance of getting it down to five, all made good claims for inclusion, none deserved to be ignored……
Then we noticed that, with a little bit tweaking, we could get two lists: one featuring those exhibitions directly connected with Bauhaus/Inter-War architecture and design, and one featuring those less directly connected.
The Bauhaus/Inter-War architecture and design list will follow, but for all keen to explore architecture and design in a wider context, five new exhibitions opening in May 2019 in Munich, New York, Berlin, Basel & Villingen-Schwenningen, you may like to consider visiting……..
How do we ensure there is sufficient, affordable, healthy, practical, accommodation for our contemporary population and their needs?
Not just a question for today’s society but arguably one that has been posed, considered and approached by architects and urban planners since the late 19th century.
If, admittedly, without anyone ever solving the conundrum. Or at least not unequivocally. Or sustainably.
With the exhibition Die Neue Heimat (1950–1982). A Social Democratic Utopia and Its Buildings, the Architekturmuseum der TU München review the (hi)story of the Neue Heimat housing corporation and its efforts to ensure sufficient, affordable, healthy, practical, accommodation for West Germany, and in doing so add to the contemporary discourse.
According to US gonzo journalist, Hunter S Thompson, “the human animal needs a Good Reason to get out of bed on a wretched morning in February.” 1
May we humbly suggest…….
While a Chair of Politics is a long established academic principle, the chair as politics represents a much more contemporary understanding of, not just chairs, but all those artefacts with which we share our world and our daily lives.
With the exhibition Friedrich von Borries. Politics of Design. Design of Politics Die Neue Sammlung Munich explore, or perhaps more accurately, give architect and design theorist Friedrich von Borries free hand to explore, the intersection(s) of design and politics.
The fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot……
Thus begins the traditional song commemorating, and urging us all never to forget, Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators attempts to overthrow the English parliament of the day, their plotting to install a new parliament, one more in line with their ideological position, for all one more in line with their ideological understanding of the English parliament’s future relationship to the dominant extra-governmental power of contemporary continental Europe.
That however was Westminster in November 1605. Such treachery and plotting would be unimaginable in Westminster in November 2018.
And so we can all relax and sing,
The five smow blog architecture and design recommendations of November,
Ditzel, von Borries, Japan, Latvia and Duchamp.
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……..
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….
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.
In front of the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich stands a Futuro House by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, a work realised in 1968 as his response to considerations on questions concerning our future society.
And an object which resembles a flying saucer. And arguably does so more now than it did then. Then it was a bright new future enabled by contemporary technology: now it is a piece of late 1960s science fiction.
Inspired by the Futuro House 28 students from the Industrial Design and Architecture Master’s degree programs at the Technische Universität München undertook their own considerations on questions concerning our future society.
The results of their deliberations are presented in the exhibition 50|50. Die Welt 2068.
In context of the renovation of the historic Falkenhütte alpine hut, Munich based StudioFaubel were commissioned to develop a formally appropriate, contemporary lighting solution.
During Munich Creative Business Week 2018 the Alpines Museum Munich are presenting with Gentiana Alba – Tradition und Design, not only the result of that commission, but an insight into the development process.
It is arguably just us, but we firmly believe that there are ever more design students studying ever more design degrees in ever more design schools, which (potentially) means ever more designers. In itself no bad thing: assuming that is that what they learn is relevant for the ever evolving nature of not only the design profession, but the society they will/should serve.
To better gauge the current situation of design education in Europe we embarked in 2017 on our #campustour, an ongoing exercise which involves not only visiting design schools but for all speaking to some of those responsible for teaching the coming generation of designers.
Among them Professor Florian Petri from the Department of Design at the Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften München.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a ticket for a design exhibition.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two tickets for two design exhibitions, and a ticket for a design exhibition.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…… You get the idea.
Our five goohoold rings for December 2017 are new architecture and design exhibitions in Winterthur, Barcelona, New York, Munich and Moscow.
Back in the day one of the joys of reading the British Yellow Pages was the entry for Boring: “See Civil Engineers”*
Oh how we laughed! And still do!
Partly to counter such negative associations, partly to explain what Civil Engineers do, and partly to explain just how fundamentally that what Civil Engineers do has contributed to our contemporary society, and the multitude of possibilities available to us, whether we choose to take them or not, the Oskar von Miller Forum Munich is staging the exhibition Visionäre und Alltagshelden. Ingenieure – Bauen – Zukunft.
Can innovation be an end to itself? Are we living in excess? Do things bewilder and inspire us still? Does a museum collection inevitably lose its link to reality as time goes by? What is good design?
The exhibition Hella Jongerius & Louise Schouwenberg – Beyond the New at Die Neue Sammlung Munich poses a lot of questions.
Questions which needn’t necessarily find answers, but which should serve as inspiration and motivation to further questions, and thus a deeper discourse on design.
In 2018 the Hochschule München Design Department will move a few hundred metres round the corner from its current home, a home it has occupied for over forty years, to a new purpose built facility opposite the main college building; consequently, the 2017 Jahresausstellung was one of the last chances to experience the Design Department in its original location.
But was it a presentation worthy of the moment, a fitting au revoir to an old friend……….?
German designer Klaus Hackl’s understanding of design is one based on the principle of evolution not revolution, of understanding the context in which a project arises, and of the value, and logic, of craft processes and craft scale production. And of the value, and logic, of craft processes and craft scale production augmented by digital technology.
Keen to learn more, we met up wit Klaus Hackl in Munich….
When we first viewed the exhibition Full House: Design by Stefan Diez at The Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne, it was was still being assembled. Objects were missing, set-ups not in their final composition, lights not yet properly positioned. As such we didn’t get to form an opinion on the final, complete, intended exhibition. Did however mange to take some truly awful photos.
Fortunately we have now had a second chance to view the exhibition.
And it is every bit as good as we assumed it would be from what we had seen.
It’s early May and once again the party ship we call the smow song contest is ready to set sail……
It may lack the Unicorn Horn that graced so many Renaissance era Cabinets of Curiosities, but with The Room of Desires Keum Art Projects present a collection of objects with just as much beauty, mystery and grace as could be found in the Wunderkammer. And yet which are grounded much more in reality.
The Bayerischer Staatspreis für Nachwuchsdesigner is one of the more interesting international design prizes. Not only because it is biennial and thus steadfastly refuses to play with the “every year new” ethos of the contemporary design industry, nor only because it is exclusively for young designers, but also because in addition to the “usual” categories it also recognises Design Research and Applied Crafts. And thus promotes a pleasingly healthy and positive understanding of the term “Design”
The winners of the 2016 Bayerischer Staatspreis were announced on Monday March 6th at an awards ceremony in Munich.
With the exhibition Full House: Design by Stefan Diez the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne, MAKK, present the first museal overview of the canon of the German designer Stefan Diez.
And an exhibition which in many respects also helps explain industrial design. Or at least the contemporary industrial design process.
One of our highlights of 2016 was without question PrintStool by Munich based designer Thorsten Franck for German manufacturer Wilkhahn. Less because of the object itself and more because of what it represents: the first step by a major furniture producer towards industrial 3D furniture printing. We met up with Thorsten in Munich to discuss PrintStool, 3D printing and the changing role of designers.
Five recommendations for new architecture and design exhibitions opening in December 2016, featuring shows in Copenhagen, Weimar, Nürnberg, London and Munich