In the northern Hemisphere May is a month of ritual; rituals primarily associated with the awakening of nature, the approaching of summer with the associated hope of a successful and bountiful harvest. And rituals which include, amongst many others, maypoles in various contexts, bonfires for various reasons and a myriad dances, including the traditional English children’s dance/game Nuts in May, with its repetition of the line “Here we come gathering nuts in May”… which obviously raises the pertinent question, which nuts can, could, should one gather in England in May? Or indeed anywhere in northern Europe in May? Are they not all a bit underdeveloped in May? Is gathering nuts in late summer, early autumn not a more worthwhile experience? As squirrels do.
So, children and adults alike, don’t waste your time looking for edible nuts in May and invest your time instead in visiting an architecture and/or design exhibition and thereby gathering fresh perspectives and insights in May.
Our five recommendations for new shows opening in May 2023 can be found in Hamburg, Rotterdam, Helsinki, Friedrichshafen and, once again, Rotterdam…….
In September 1839 Henry David Thoreau and his brother John spent two weeks navigating the Concord and Merrimack rivers on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border. A boat trip, a journey, motivated by Thoreau’s long time observation of the Concord river, and for all its many organic and inorganic inhabitants, floating past him, “fulfilling their fate” as they did; and which inspired Thoreau to “launch myself on its bosom and float wither it would bear me.”1
Which is not only a very positive attitude to life, but also to approaching an architecture and/or design exhibition: launch yourself at it and see whither it bears you.
Our five recommendations for allowing yourself to carried off to pastures unknown, and possibly fulfilling fate as you are, in September 2022 can be found in Frankfurt, Hornu, Kolding, Rotterdam and Los Angeles…….
With the Boötids, the Arietids and the Beta Taurids June is an eventful month for meteor showers; and a month of great promise for all those who hope their most earnest wishes for the future will be fulfilled through entrusting them to a shooting star.
If only their wasn’t the seemingly endless wait for nightfall, the seemingly endless sitting and streaming and snacking and stupor of waiting…….
Alternatively, use the day(s) ahead of the arrival of those celestial messengers of hope in perusing a good architecture and/or design exhibition: something that may enrich your life in ways you could never have imagined. Far less hoped for. And could lead you, could lead us all, to a future better, more promising and more fulfilling than you/we could ever have wished for. Could ever have achieved through the sitting and streaming and snacking and stupor of waiting for the future.
But you can still watch the meteors when they appear. And wish upon a star.
Our four meaningful distractions until nightfall in June 2022 can be found in Berlin, Rotterdam, Wrocław and Copenhagen……
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……
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!
“Last night the waiter put the celery on with the cheese, and I knew that summer was indeed dead”, opined once A.A. Milne, continuing that, while there may be other indications of autumn’s arrival, “it is only with the first celery that summer is over.”
And the first celery appears, or at least appeared in early 20th century England, in October.
Not that one should fear the celery, for in its crispness, freshness, tenderness, sweetness celery, so A.A. Milne, reminds us that winter isn’t only about the cold, wet, dark and dreary, but is a season which brings its own pleasures and joys, is a season of “crisp and sparkling days, long pleasant evenings, cheery fires” and to which we’ll add lingering visits to architecture and design exhibitions. Our recommendations for new showcases opening in October 2020 can be found in Munich, Milan, Rotterdam, Philadelphia and Brussels.
And as ever in these times, if you do feel comfortable about visiting any museum, 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….
“Here’s to October—and, waiter, some more celery.”1
July is traditionally a slow month for new architecture and design exhibition openings. July 2020 less so. Not because of any fundamental changes in understandings amongst architecture and design museums of when is a good time to open an exhibition; but because owing to Corona many shows scheduled to open in the spring had to be postponed, not least until the museums were allowed to open.
And throughout July 2020 ever more museums are planned and planning to open; meaning ever more architecture and design exhibitions are planned and planning to open throughout July 2020.
And thus, while our physical travel options may still be limited, our (potential) cerebral and cultural travel spheres continues to expand, and that is never a bad thing.
If you do feel comfortable about visiting a museum, and are physically allowed to do so, as we will never tire of saying in these trying of times, 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….
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…..
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…….
Having made his way to America as a stowaway on an British freighter the Dutch abstract expressionist artist, and eponym of Rotterdam’s art school, Willem de Kooning, initially made his living as a painter and decorator.
Which, considered in context of his later work, is just the most delicious thought……
“No Willem, that wall ONLY green, that wall ONLY yellow, the doors ONLY white. And straight edges!!!”
“Memphis in June,
A shady veranda under a Sunday blue sky,
Memphis in June,
And cousin Amanda’s makin’ a rhubarb pie”
(Memphis in June, Hoagy Carmichael)
Sounds lovely Hoagy, but we’ll have to pass, because despite Memphis having some interesting museums, we can’t find one opening a new architecture or design exhibition in June 2018.
Consequently, and unlike Marc Cohn, we’ll not be “Walking in Memphis” this June, but in Düsseldorf, Espoo, Andelsbuch, Rotterdam and San Francisco…..
Our pick of the new architecture and design exhibitions opening in January 2017, with showcases in Cologne, New York, Rotterdam, Atlanta and Helsinki.
Dessau and Rotterdam may appear unlikely brothers in arms; however, an exploration of the towns’ architectural connections helps explain International
As we have often noted in these pages, a combination of increasing automation, advancing technology, the changing nature of industry
“The real jewel of my disease-ridden woodlot is the prothonotary warbler”, confided the American author, ecologist and conservationist Aldo Leopold
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” exclaims Anne Shirley in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 novel