Housing is scarce – that much has become evident in the last few years. As real estate prices in big cities continue to skyrocket, conventional ideas of housing development prove unable to meet demands. The reaction to these challenges has been a silent revolution in contemporary architecture towards collective building and living. Using models, films, and walk-in displays, Vitra Design Museum’s exhibition Together! The New Architecture of the Collective addresses this global phenomenon by presenting a broad array of collective projects from Europe, Asia, and the United States. An overview of historical precedents for the current wave of collectives demonstrates that the idea has been a recurring theme in the history of architecture, from the reformist ideas of the nineteenth century to the hippies and squatters of the twentieth, who touted the slogan “Make love, not lofts”.
As a consequence of “post-modernization” at large, the city seems to have lost its authority as the sole territory we look to for the source of quality existence. Contained within the title of the 25th Biennial of Design, FARAWAY, SO CLOSE, are many topics of the ensuing debate: could we re-occupy distant places, activate remote territories, re-enact ancient relations through our urban habits? Can new frictions between distant conditions emerge, and produce new scenarios for a different present time? Slovenia, with its specific geographical condition, will perform as a paradigm to stimulate, discuss and test the status of this global shift. Rather than an exhibition of existing projects, the biennial is conceived as a production platform where groups of designers develop different scenarios as alternatives to established systems. Seven Slovenian individuals, known for their work outside of the design field, were paired with seven international creative figures, chosen for their ability to use design and architecture as tools for investigating contemporary issues – Studio Formafantasma with Andrej Detela; Matali Crasset with Matej Fegus; Point Supreme with Iztok Kovac; Didier Faustino with Mojca Kumerdej; Studio Mischer’Traxler with Klemen Kosir; Studio Folder with Renata Salecl; Odo Fioravanti with Marin Medak. The resulting collaborations are shown at the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) in Ljubljana, which organises the Biennial, as well as seven sites across the Slovenian environment, ranging from the wild forest of Kocevje to the subterranean world of the Mayor’s Cave.
Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture soon presents the seventeenth Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim to three outstanding Swiss culture practitioners: conceptual artist Daniela Keiser works with the media of photography and language, which she translates into different exhibition and presentation formats. Peter Märkli’s architecture, teachings and drawings are widely recognised and particularly valued by the younger generation of architects. The author and curator Philip Ursprung is honored for his cross-disciplinary research in history, art and architecture. The Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim was founded in 2001 by the Federal Office of Culture in collaboration with the Federal Art Commission. It honors figures from the worlds of art and architecture as well as criticism, curation and research whose work is of particular relevance and importance for contemporary art and architecture in Switzerland and beyond. The laureates, and this year’s winners of the Swiss Art Awards, will receive their accolades on June 12th, 2017, in Basel. The exhibition SWISS ART AWARDS, which showcases the participants in the second round of the Swiss Art Competition, also includes film portraits of the Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim 2017 recipients.
How do political and economic interests shape the urban environment? Which boundaries and power structures are encoded in it? In Between Spaces, 15 artists examine questions and contradictions found in urban life. The exhibition places work by Gordon Matta-Clark and perspectives on East Berlin into a dialogue with current artistic positions. The featured artists appropriate unused spaces and lend new forms to the inconspicuous spaces in-between. From 1970s New York to 1980s East Berlin and the global village of today, various frames of reference are brought together with the notion of urban space acting as the social, artistic and political hub of a society. Artistic positions on urbanism and public space, with Gordon Matta-Clark, Isa Melsheimer, Sabine Peuckert, Andrea Pichl, Diana Sirianni, Annemirl Bauer, Sibylle Bergemann, Simon Faithfull, Antje Fretwurst-Colberg, Brigitte Fugmann, Raumlabor, Marjetica Potrc, KUNSTrePUBLIK, Tomás Saraceno, and Ursula Strozynski.
“Museums should be invisible. With an imaginary museum you can do whatever you want.” –
What does the term anti-art encompass? It’s shaped by an array of concepts that reject prior definitions of art and question the art system and how it functions. “The Anti-Museum“, an extensive anthology by Mathieu Copeland and Balthazar Lovay, addresses the idea of anti-art through numerous contributions by renowned artists and writers. From interviews and historical reprints to manifestos and commissioned essays, the 794-page encyclopaedic tome presents the first comprehensive exploration of the radical and paradoxical concept that is the ‘anti-museum’ – a term so present in art history and yet one that has never been the object of detailed investigation. The museum has always been a target for criticism, whether it comes from artists, thinkers, curators, or even the public. Dedicated to all forms of “anti” such as Anti-Art, Anti-Technology, Anti-Design and Anti-Philosophy, the publication features numerous texts from the 60s until today – including newly commissioned as well as never-before-translated pieces – to define the idea of anti-art in a broad sense, evoking attempts to disrupt rules and customs in artistic disciplines.
With the aim to stimulate discussion on the social dimensions of design, the 4th edition of the Design Display series at Autostadt Wolfsburg (Konzernforum) takes Mexico as its main point of departure. Inside the exhibition’s characteristic 20-metre-long glass display, an intercultural bridge between Mexico and the US is figuratively built through two contemporary designer projects. On the one side is Vestido Cobra, a dress created by Mexican fashion designer Carla Fernández who explores how fashion can uphold traditions and still point the way to the future. By bringing Mexican styles and manufacturing techniques into contemporary fashion, she draws attention to the cultural heritage of her homeland within a modern context. The unisex “snake dress” questions gender roles and embraces craftsmanship. On the other side of the glass display is a multimedia installation dealing with the US-Mexican border by architect Fernando Romero. Conceived as an ideal metropolis with multiple urban centres, Romero’s Border City is a bi-national future city designed to straddle the controversial border, serving as a model for new cities around the world. Romero’s visionary project explores the potential to create organized growth and multiple urban centres in sprawling regions lacking infrastructure.
The exhibition’s accompanying magazine On Display continues the discussion through features on the work of the two participating designers, a detailed piece about the border area between Mexico and the United States, and an essay on the influence of traditional craftsmanship on modern Mexican design.
Galerie Berinson newly housed in an apartment of a historic Gründerzeit building in Charlottenburg. Gonzalez Haase AAS, which designed the interior of the former gallery in Kreuzberg, has travelled west with them. With its parquet floors, stucco-work molding around the ceilings, and a pre-modern floorplan, the new venue is a radically different space than Berinson’s open loft-format from before. To contrast the old-fashioned feel, the architects have remodeled the space with a sense of rigor, simplicity, and clarity. All the built-in walls that weren’t a part of the building’s load-bearing structure were removed, creating an even circulation through the gallery. At the head of its main hallway is an office space with an exposed storage area; along the hall’s other side are entrances to the three exhibition spaces. In line with the architectural concept, the original connections between these exhibition rooms – double doors in the middle of the walls – have been closed up and replaced by neutral openings. Finally, a system of cool lighting from bold, metallic track fixtures is installed in strict parallel to the main axis of the apartment, two in the hallway and two running through the exhibition rooms. These additions are of a characteristic style for Gonzalez and Haase, and serve to unify Galerie Berinson’s new home: the fixtures become a part of the architecture itself, separating and organizing space through their form, size and design.
When science fiction scenarios are applied to reality: How is robotics changing our lives and what is design’s role within that spectrum? As these technological advancements have found their way into our everyday environs, design has a central responsibility in this process, for it is designers who shape the interfaces between humans and machines. The exhibition Hello, Robot at the Vitra Design Museum examines the current robotics boom from the scope of various disciplines in extensive detail for the first time. Comprising more than 200 exhibits, the exhibition includes robots used in the home, in nursing care, and in industry as well as computer games, media installations, and relevant examples in films and literature. Through this sweeping analysis, the show broadens our awareness of the associated ethical, social, and political issues that arise. As our environment is becoming ever smarter and more autonomous, Hello Robot initiates a necessary discussion on how design cultivates the relationship between human and machine. Accompanying the exhibition, an extensive programme of talks, films, performances, and workshops further illuminates the topic in question from a number of different perspectives.
With the opening of Schaudepot in June 2016, the Vitra Design Museum more than doubled its exhibition space. Designed by Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron, the new addition functions as a venue for presenting key objects from the museum’s extensive collection to the public. Holding the first permanent exhibition of the institution’s sprawling collection, the brick building includes over 7.000 pieces covering all significant epochs and protagonists of design from 1800 to the present, and the estates of designers such as Verner Panton and Charles & Ray Eames. The central focus is a selection of more than 400 key objects of furniture design, including rare works by such designers as Gerrit Rietveld, Alvar Aalto, Charles & Ray Eames, or Ettore Sottsass, but also lesser-known or anonymous objects. What the collection aims to achieve is to document the past and present of interior design, and foster research in a broader context. Schaudepot combines the simple appearance of an industrial warehouse with the complex requirements of a walk-in museum repository. To the outside, the structure presents itself as a monolithic volume constructed from hand-broken bricks, characterised by a completely windowless facade and a simple gable roof. With its understated and dignified appearance, the edifice’s architecture reflects the cultural value of the objects stored within. Through this new expansion, the Vitra Design Museum is addressing the characteristic development in the sphere of design and museums today, as well as communicating the significance of design through discussions, the demonstration of social correlations and the presentation of references to other fields. Now in operation, Schaudepot is one of the world’s largest permanent exhibitions and research facilities on modern interior design.
After commissioning architect John Pawson to plan a comprehensive spatial reimagining, Munich’s luxury department store Oberpollinger enlisted the Berlin-based studio Gonzalez Haase AAS to design the store’s lower level. Consisting of the kidswear, urbanwear and accessories sections, the basement floor is characterised by an interaction of different layers that follow a certain choreography yet remain non-hierarchical and distinguishable as individual. Architecture studio Gonzalez Haase, who in 2003 began designing the first concept stores for Andreas Murkudis across Germany, takes an interdisciplinary approach to architecture by combining elements from art, cinema and scenography into their projects. Always harking back to the origins of a space as a departure point, the duo tries to see the bare substance in each structure to better analyze its profile. In Oberpollinger’s case, they formed clearly readable spaces with simple lighting and raw, almost improvised surfaces. This combination of elements forms cool environs, elegant in shape, with a detached precision—something that corresponds to the duo’s interpretation of the so-called ‘Berlin style’.