Since 2007, in addition to the Swiss Design Awards, the Federal Office of Culture has presented the Swiss Grand Award for Design to individual designers or established firms that contribute to the renown of Swiss design nationally and internationally. Having originated as a means of encouraging, supporting and ultimately honouring the Swiss design scene, the prize communicates and indicates the traditions of Swiss design. This year the disciplines of the three laureates range from graphic design to jewellery and illustration; all of which have played a key role in the cultural fabric of Switzerland. David Bielander translates simple, everyday objects into items straddling the line between jewellery and artwork. His contemporary pieces open up unexpected lines of communication and discreetly narrate underlying stories for both the wearer and the perceiver. Another mode of storytelling is found in the work of Thomas Ott whose dark, meticulous comics don’t contain words yet manage to be universally comprehensible. As Ott’s work becomes more layered and complex, it gives rise to kaleidoscopic narratives and painstaking detail. This marked the first time that the award goes to a comic artist. Similarly following a precise optical language and consistent set of tools, Jean Widmer, one of the first Swiss graphic designers in Paris, produces clear designs ahead of their time. Among others, he’s created the visual identity for such institutions as Musée?d’Orsay and Centre Georges Pompidou – where his emblematic logo still remains.
book cover and Marcel Broodthaers with camel in front of Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles © Maria Gilissen
“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.
Vestido Cobra. Photo: Edgar Aguirre © Carla Fernández / Border-City © FR-EE
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.
Placed on a high pedestal at the heart of Frankfurt Alt-Sachsenhausen’s new bar Bonechina is a night-blue, porcelain elephant. Coincidentally, it is also your bartender: tonic water splashes from its mouth. Guests are invited to mix their own drinks, gathering around the sculpture to fill their cups, choose between a sandalwood or Vetiver aromatic ice cube, possibly exchange some names and stories. Developed by the Lindenberg Group, Bonechina is less of a bar than what a bar may dream of. Absent are the bartenders (though two hosts are present to prepare drinks if desired), and gone are the counter, the stools. With a visual concept designed by Studio Aberja, the whole interior glimmers across ceramic tiles called Frankfurter Fliese, diamond-cut and painted in the same shade of blue as the elephant-fountain. The blue continues onto the curtains and upholstery, and above the light limbs of pear-wood furniture, aromatic diffusers let out puffs of yuzu and bergamot throughout the evening. With all of this housed inside a baroque building from the wooden-shingled 18th century, the 20 lucky guests for a night at Bonechina may start to think they’re dreaming too.
Photos: Steve Herud
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.
Yonezawa, »Directional Robot«, 1957. Private collection. Photo: Andreas Sütterlin
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.
Shawn Maximo, »Going Green«, Vinylprint 2016 © Shawn Maximo / TRNDlabs, »SKEYE Nano 2 FPV Drone«, 2015 Fernsteuerung und Nano-Drohne © TRNDlabs
Exterior view Schaudepot, located at the Vitra Campus adjacent to the Firestation by Zaha Hadid © Vitra Design Museum, Julien Lanoo / Exhibition view of main hall © Vitra Design Museum, Mark Niedermann
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.
photo by Thomas Meyer
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’.
photo left: Thomas Meyer / photo right: Pierre Jorge Gonzalez
installation view, photo: Michael Jungblut
According to theorist William Myers, a designer should also be a kind of translator, shaping material and visual elements into something that makes sense as part of our daily lives. Designers transfer research into everyday use; they work on objects and systems. So what is our understanding of design research? How can it be practised as an experiment and in turn produce knowledge pointing to the future? For the third edition of the exhibition series Design Display at the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Julia Lohmann and Petra Blaisse transfer scientific examination into the world of design. Delving into the subject of material research, the two designers present their in-depth investigation and distinct outcomes inside the exhibition’s characteristic glass display. On one side we find Julia Lohmann’s work which primarily addresses the question of how design can deal more sensitively with natural resources. In her mobile research station, the “Department of Seaweed”, she develops new methods for how seaweed can replace fossil fuels, as well as how it can be be pressed, cut, sewn, and applied to objects. The other side of the display is occupied by Petra Blaisse’s “Solar Curtain”, an aesthetic, ecological product that shows how previously unused surfaces can be discovered as a resource and then utilized. The 3D curtain, equipped with solar cells capable of producing electricity, is the interim result of a long-term research project that the designer has initiated after collaborating with textile experts and engineers.
To order a copy of the magazine On Display that accompanies each exhibition and delves deeper into the chosen subject, head over to form.
Petra Blaisse, Solar Curtain & Julia Lohmann, Department of Seaweed
© Design Display. photo: Noortje Knulst
Entwerfen ist das Gegenteil von Unterwerfen. Entwerfen. Unterwerfen. Alles, was gestaltet ist, unterwirft uns unter seine Bedingungen. Gleichzeitig befreit uns das Gestaltete aus dem Zustand der Unterwerfung, der Unterworfenheit. Design schafft Freiheit, Design ermöglicht Handlungen, die zuvor nicht möglich oder nicht denkbar waren. Indem es dies tut, begrenzt es aber auch den Möglichkeitsraum, weil es neue Bedingungen schafft. Alles, was gestaltet ist, entwirft und unterwirft. Design ist von dieser sich bedingenden und ausschließenden Gegensätzlichkeit grundlegend geprägt. Diese dem Design inhärente Dichotomie ist nicht nur eine gestalterische, sondern eine politische. Sie bedingt Freiheit und Unfreiheit, Macht und Ohnmacht, Unterdrückung und Widerstand. Sie ist das politische Wesen von Design.
Das Buch erscheint am 29.10.2016 bei edition suhrkamp.