Visuals for the installation, Typecasting. An Assembly of Iconic, Forgotten and New Vitra Characters
My stool is an Athlete. Me too? In conjunction with Milan Design Week 2018, Vitra presents the exhibition Typecasting, a panorama of some 200 objects curated by designer Robert Stadler. The Austrian designer looks at the furniture in this installation outside the context of conventional categories, such as their functional uses or historical origins. Instead, he regards them as characters and assigns them to groups that reflect stereotypical behaviour patterns and personality profiles in contemporary society. Drawing on the extensive Vitra archives, the show places current products alongside icons, prototypes, special editions, rejects and future visions. Another central question is how changes in society could affect established furniture typologies. Various designers – including Konstantin Grcic, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and Commonplace Studio – were invited to develop ideas for a collective living space under the title The Communal Sofa.
Soundsystem Despacio, New Century Hall, Manchester International Festival, Juli 2013 © Rod Lewis / Guests at Studio 54, New York, 1979. © Bill Bernstein, David Hill Gallery, London / Installation views, Photos: Mark Niedermann
Nightclubs and discothèques are hotbeds of contemporary culture. Since the 20th century, they have been centres of the avant-garde that question the established codes of social life and experiment with different realities. Interior and furniture design merges with graphics, and art with sound, light, fashion and special effects to create a modern Gesamtkunstwerk. Night Fever is the first exhibition to give a comprehensive overview of the design history of the nightclub, examining its cultural context from numerous perspectives. Examples range from Italian clubs of the 1960s created by the protagonists of Radical Design to the legendary Studio 54 where Andy Warhol was a regular, from the Palladium in New York designed by Arata Isozaki to more recent concepts by the OMA architecture studio for the Ministry of Sound in London. Featuring films and vintage photographs, posters, flyers and fashion, the exhibition incorporates music, light and spatial installations to take visitors on a fascinating journey through a world of glamour and subcultures – always in search of the night that never ends. In a night that never ends, the exhibition begs the question of whether the disco culture has evolved into a particular direction.
© Vitra | bottom: design sketches by Panton, probably between 1957 and 1960, Vitra Design Museum Archives
After several years of joint development by Verner Panton and Vitra, the Panton Chair was finally ready for production in 1967 as the first all-plastic cantilever chair to be manufactured in one piece. Created with a revolutionary technique even for today’s standards, the chair’s unique sculptural design was presented to the public for the first time at the imm Furniture Fair in Cologne in 1968. It rapidly came to symbolize an entire era. Now, 50 years after its launch, Vitra is celebrating this timeless icon by issuing two limited editions that bring lustre and luminosity to those dynamic curves: Panton Chrome and Panton Glow. The inspiration for the first one derives from Verner Panton’s fascination with mirrored surfaces and his extensive experiments with diverse reflective effects. An old dream of the designer finally comes to fruition as a recent complex process prevents its previous sensitivity to scratching. On the other hand, Panton Glow accentuates luminosity and a certain “radiance from within” due to phosphorescent pigments that absorb daylight and emit a blue glow in the dark. The jubilee duo shines bright, paying homage to the design’s smooth twists and bends.
top Baas Maartens´ Smoke, bottom Dave Hakkens´ bloks. both © Frank Hülsbömer
Shiny, immaculate, new: these are the qualities we expect from the objects with which we surround ourselves. But one often forgets that aging is also part of life – and design. Transience, the theme taken on by the sixth Design Display exhibition, is much more than a philosophical question. Two designers who deal with the concept of impermanence in different ways take center stage: Maarten Baas destroys in order to create, while Dave Hakkens develops concepts of sustainability. Though both of them share the opinion that good design is more than good looks. For the Smoke series, Baas took iconic design pieces and torched them until they were left charred. In reworking design classics, Maarten Baas’ productive act of destruction not only shows the surface’s vulnerability, but the transience of the original design intentions. The torched versions call for the recognition that things must elapse to make room for the new. Facing Baas on the other side of the glass display, is Dutch designer Dave Hakkens with his Phonebloks – a concept for a smartphone made up entirely of individual modules. The idea is that different “bloks” can be assembled on the motherboard like Lego blocks. These blocks are autonomous functional units such as batteries, processors, speakers, cameras, or memory cards. Users can assemble or upgrade their device at will, as well as easily replace broken parts. The transience of a single module doesn’t spell the end for the whole device. The transience of a single module doesn’t spell the end for the whole device. In the On Display magazine accompanying the exhibition, the fascination with ephemerality and the allure of decay are further explored.
Across the world there has been a shared desire to bring the vision of the Bauhaus up to date, but every attempt to revive it is doomed to failure since it was both a forward-looking project and a child of its time. projekt bauhaus critically examines the ideas of the Bauhaus by using its own methods. It will seek to expose the internal contradictions of the Western idea of progress and discuss alternative approaches. The Bauhaus sought a synthesis of knowledge in which the various forms of knowledge—technical, scientific, emotional, creative—would be interconnected. This concept of knowledge was combined with a new pedagogy to emancipate the people, release their potential, and ultimately lead to the creation of a “new man.” As 2019 will mark the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus, a one-day symposium hosted at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin will bring together great thinkers to address questions of progress and renewal pertinent to our times: Which spaces encourage creativity and innovation? Which sites of knowledge does society need today? And essentially, do advanced laboratories of computer, internet and media companies represent the Bauhaus of the twenty-first century?
Architecture is not necessarily an activity whose sole purpose is construction, but rather a field for intellectual research and speculation that encompasses an arsenal of numerous disciplines. The emerging generation of the most talented architects and urban professionals in Europe joined forces during the Future Architecture Festival in Ljubljana organized by the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO). The purpose? To break down walls. Not just physical walls, but also those of imaginary, professional and ideological nature. Through critical approach, architecture is perceived as a means to address the most pressing social and political issues of our times. Essentially, the common aim of all the ideas taking part in the festival is to observe, analyze and change the world we live in. Some of the stimulating topics discussed included James Taylor Foster’s (archdaily) lecture and panel discussion “What is Attention Economy? Why Should I Care?” which unpicked the designed intention behind social sharing and the state of the Internet in 2017 – a reality both fascinating and disconcerting in equal measure. Focusing on future materials, Esen Gökçe Özdamar presented the Bioplarch workshop which proposed new bio-degradable plastic made out of edible components and how it can be realistically used and widely applied in industries and daily life. Of course, one of the fervent topics throughout the whole festival was the reclamation of public space and strengthening communal initiatives. Among others, Kosmos Architects proposed to turn Basel’s underground river into a linear botanical garden, open for the public year-round.
Bureau N’s involvement
As a member of the Future Architecture Platform, Bureau N was invited to host a talk during the festival. We decided to focus on a common thread between our field of expertise — cultural communications — and the overarching theme of architecture. It was quickly obvious that the shared ground we were after was storytelling. Within our practice, stories are an indispensable device that helps us convey messages, if not the underlying protagonist of all our projects. Giving shape to narratives that others can empathize with, or are curious to explore further, is the bedrock of every worthwhile creative project seeking to transmit information that’s understood by more than one person in a powerful manner. In this case here, taking storytelling as a point of departure, we aimed to touch upon the relationship between architecture and narrative, and how space can be perceived through that particular scope. Our talk, entitled “Tales Only Architecture Can Tell” was joined by two theorists and two practitioners: futurist Ludwig Engel whose work deals with urban utopias and future cities; Victor Cano Ciborro of the architectural collective and radical research group Arquitectura Subalterna; scientist and researcher Ana Jeinic who engages in how architecture will adapt to post-futuristic states of culture; and Adrianna Pablos Llona who questions borders, nations and monolithic disciplines. All presented lectures and workshops will be soon available online on videolectures.net
Images: Bioplarch,starch-based bioplastic as construction material by Esen Gökçe Özdamar, Ahmet Bal, Schermin Schentürk / Hidden Park, Kosmos Architects / Tempio di Minerva. Sonic Impression or Architecture as Instrument”, FAKT Architects in collaboration with MAXXI
With their inexhaustible supplies of imagination, intelligent sense of humor and iconic creations, Charles and Ray Eames had a major impact on 20th century culture that extended well beyond design and architecture. Throughout their careers, they focused primarily on finding answers to the simple question of how the basic human needs for living space, comfort and knowledge could best be met. Rather than a luxury, they understood design as a solution. Nowadays, the duo’s name is synonymous with timeless aesthetics and technical precision, embodying the synergy of form and function. In celebration of these two enduring creative forces, the Vitra Design Museum is presenting four parallel exhibitions that offer an unprecedented view of the work created by the ever-referenced designers. From medical splints and airport seating to films and children’s toys, visitors will be invited to explore an all-encompassing spectrum of the Eames’s vision taking over the entirety of the Vitra Campus. The exhibition sequence’s major retrospective will be accompanied by the designers’ cinematic oeuvre of more than 60 films, children toys as well as the full scope of the collection of the Eames Office that is with the museum since 1988.
Credits:Charles and Ray Eames selecting slides / Ray Eames with an early prototype of »The Toy« in the patio of the Eames House, 1950 / Charles and Ray in the living room of the Eames House, 1958 / Installation view of »Glimpses of the U.S.A.«, American National Exhibition, Moscow, 1959 / Photo shoot of the Aluminum Group with Charles Eames, 1960 / Charles and Ray Eames, Film still »Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero«, 1977. All pictures: © Eames Office LLC
“Design is invisible”, wrote sociologist Lucius Burckhardt almost 40 years ago. Design doesn’t merely apply to objects, graphics, user interfaces or spaces, but also refers to social processes and complex systems. Democracy is one such a system: it is not a given, but rather a structured process. The 5th edition of the exhibition series Design Display examines how design and democracy intersect in order to effect change in society. On the basis of two different democratic processes, the exhibition presents a spectrum of creative possibilities: from hands-on participation in urban development to new digital technologies that can fundamentally alter the face of democracy. On one side of the two-fold exhibition, the Hamburg-based group PlanBude focuses on promoting public participation in city planning and explores how design can become more inclusive. Shaping and implementing participatory processes is a crucial step to ensuring democracy isn’t just a formal act, but a vital part of everyday life. This means giving voice to those not normally consulted during the stages of development. Architects and city planners are made aware of the residents’ knowledge, desires, and needs, so that site-specific features can be incorporated into their designs. PlanBude advocates moving beyond designing for the people toward designing with the people. The second element of the exhibition turns to the digital world and, in particular, the innovative technology of blockchains and its various applications within the infinite World Wide Web. Blockchains store information in small units, in blocks that aren’t stored on one, but on many different servers connected to each other. This form of storage is extremely secure against hacking and manipulation and thus utilizable for democratic processes. Among other things, this new technology makes it conceivable to cast secret ballots on the Internet, to make management transparent, or to provide tools that promote direct democracy or economic autonomy. Across the world, blockchain solutions are prompting administrative processes to become more transparent and citizens to get involved more directly.
In 2017, the Swiss Design Competition celebrates its 100th edition. Since then, the promotion has pursued two objectives: on the one hand, direct economic support, which gives designers a boost from prototype to production that pays into the quality and the reputation of Swiss design. On the other hand, it allows an indirect freedom, financially and temporarily, that enables the designers to create new and extraordinary solutions to be worked out and tested. In the exhibition Swiss Design Awards, around 50 works from designers in the fields of graphic design, photography, fashion and textile, products, scenography and mediation are presented to a broad public.