On the occasion of the 2016 Swiss Design Awards, BUREAU N launched a series of interviews with all the participants of the design competition – organised annually by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture – in the run-up to the exhibition in Basel. The interviews aim to dissect the participants’ personal concept of utopia in relation to their practice, methods and strategies. Selected designers express their definition of utopia and their opinion on whether design is capable of changing societal systems. Is utopia the truth of tomorrow, as Victor Hugo has suggested, or merely an ideal conviction that ultimately pushes us towards a different reality and set of constructs? Utopia. The word celebrates its 500th anniversary this year: Thomas More’s influential and radical text on the term was first published in 1516. The British Renaissance humanist was the first to give a name to an idea that has triggered and empowered imagination ever since—the creation of a better world is possible. Utopia refers, in the original meaning of the Greek word, to both a place with positive connotations and a non-place. It invites us to a traveller’s log portraying an ideal society on a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. More’s work continues to inspire us and offers frameworks for innovation today, stressing the importance of the process of imagination as well as dreaming in the here and now.
“Having an element of utopia in one’s work is very important. The constant search for something that may not ever exist can potentially lead to new ideas, pushing projects and boundaries further and further.” — Simone Cavadini is a photographer who in his current project RES PVBLICA analyses the relationship between performance and power in the Italian media.
“Without the utopian idea which influences my actions in the here and now—and paves the way, so to speak—I would constantly repeat myself artistically.” — Fashion designer Sandro Marzo is a firm believer in the idea that design is everything, and everything is design. In his opinion, design is in fact capable of effecting social change.
“Utopia is looking for an undetectable answer that motivates you to keep working on different projects. In my work, the word utopia relates to a certain hyperreal aesthetic. Through this particular aesthetic, I refer to the hyper-commercialist codes that surround our visual society through advertising, but also internet aesthetics that subtly direct our desires and dreams. Utopia is omnipresent in my creative process. This imaginary element frees me, it allows me to create without limits or restrictions. Then I can see further, beyond the known.” — Maxime Guyon’s work oscillates between research on the constant evolution of technological functions in our current society and the role of a photographer in a post-internet era.
“Utopia represents a stage at which design annihilates itself, which consequently means that design is not capable of changing society. This may sound dystopian but this is exactly what pushes me to come up with both innovative and critical graphic patterns.” — Dan Solbach has established a practice almost exclusively focusing on graphic design for artists and contemporary art institutions.
“The role of the designer is not just to think about an object’s form and function. I see the designer as an antenna capturing moments, moods and needs. The designer helps create new ways of thinking. New approaches encourage a continual renewal essential to any development. Each creation is an interpretation of what surrounds us; a singular vision, a new view of the world. It is vital for our societies to knowingly reinvent themselves and recognize the impact of our collective choices on our future.” — Lucy Authié aims to strengthen the bonds between luxury and sustainability in product development.
Read more interviews and find out more about the participants here.
Studio visit with Iris Roth in Milan
On the occasion of Salone del Mobile 2016, we paid a visit to ceramic and interior designer Iris Roth to gain insight into her working space and creative practice. In her charming apartment, located in the well-known architects’ building complex Cascia 6, the Italian-German artist hosts dinners, grows olive trees on her sunny terrace and works away in her compact studio. We also got a chance to peek inside her production space – a traditional ceramics atelier that has been supervised by an Italian couple since 1976. Iris Roth combines traditional craftsmanship with contemporary elements: simple forms, warm tones and traditional processes involving the potter’s wheel as an essential tool. The artist uses white clay coated in natural white or grey glazes, as well as the widely used red clay – prevalent in her nude collection. Small, intentional imperfections on the surfaces of handmade objects, such as the artisan’s fingerprints, give each item a unique character that distinguishes them from mass-produced ware. But aesthetics aside, it’s all about functionality: All objects are suitable for everyday use and are dishwasher-safe. For Louis Pretty in Berlin and the restaurant oTTo in Milan, Iris Roth has designed and produced their entire ceramic lines. Each of the pieces is unparallelled but the designs can be produced in large numbers. In addition to oTTo’s dinnerware, Iris also designed the interiors of the cosy, greenhouse-like bistro, which arguably offers the best sandwiches in town. Soon, Iris Roth’s pieces will be available online – till then make sure to follow her dolce vita on Instagram.
Galerie Jochum Rodgers‘ exhibition Interiors Palazzo Scalini travels to the era of the Liberty style, where remarkable interior objects by Italian Art nouveau designer, ceramicist and visionaire Galileo Chini in collaboration with architect Carlo Spiccianl, will be on show. Chini’s fascination with cultures took him around the world, most notably to Siam, where he became inspired by Eastern aesthetics. He later incorporated these details into highly decorative furniture pieces, most notably for the joint commission with Spiccianl for the redesign of Palazzo Scalini. Upholstered leather chairs in striking red and gold are some of the works from this collaboration, which are on display for the first time in the exhibition. The parallel presentation of design innovation – Light by Stilnovo, Italy 1950-1960, documents lamps from the early production of the iconic lighting studio Stilnovo – with numerous models from the manufacturers’ 50’s and 60’s heyday.
Courtesy of Galerie Jochum Rodgers
The Federal Office of Culture (FOC) has announced the laureates of the Swiss Grand Award for Design 2016 – textile designer Claudia Caviezel, furniture and interior designer Hans Eichenberger and graphic designer Ralph Schraivogel. They will receive their honours at the opening of the Swiss Design Awards 2016 In June in Basel. The exhibition runs in parallel with Art Basel and DesignMiami and will present interviews, in-depth profiles and photographic portraits of the award recipients. The awards launched in 2007 in order to highlight the work of well-known designers, which exemplify quality, relevance and dynamism of Swiss design practice both nationally and internationally.
Swiss Grand Award for Design 2016
With this year’s Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Federal Office of Culture (FOC) has honoured three outstanding Swiss cultural practitioners: the curator Adelina von Fürstenberg, conceptual artist Christian Philipp Müller and architect and author Martin Steinmann. For the second time, The Prix Meret Oppenheim will run in parallel to Art Basel, together with the Swiss Art Awards 2016 exhibition. At this time, an exhibition with portraits of the winners will be on show, and a Prix Meret Oppenheim 2016 publication will also launch, which comprises interviews between Samuel Schallenberg and Adelina von Fürstenberg, Philip Ursprung and Christian Philipp Müller, and Daniel Kurz and Martin Steinmann. The Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim was initiated in 2001 to honour artistic and architectural creativity. The awards distinguish artists, architects, curators and researchers, whose methods and approaches have exerted a lasting influence on our perception and have stimulated cultural dialogue in Switzerland and beyond.
no1: Product designer Sebastian Herkner was selected for Das Haus, the project space for young designers and architects. The ‘open house’ structure was a statement on both our tendencies towards isolated modern living culture and on the current global issues of the refugee and housing crisis. However, instead of it being an overly-political message, Herkner began the dialogue through topics of hospitality, in order to communicate ideas of inclusivity and openness. no2: Herkner’s design interest is well suited to a curiosity about the domestic sphere, and this is something that was explored in his recent collaboration with Colombian-German interiors brand ames, which also launched at imm. The designer worked with several small local manufactories in the countryside of Colombia to create ames sala, a line of modern interior accessories connected to traditional Colombian life. no3: Frankfurt-based brand e15 engaged visitors on another important issue – the impact of copyright infringement on the design world. This was expressed in the 20th anniversary display of their iconic BACKENZAHN stool, a design classic that is included in museums and collections all over the world. In a poignant and playful installation, e15 exhibited replications of the stool over its 20-year existence, stressing the international market for copied products and the necessity for original design. And this idea was brought to life further, with many of the Chinese exhibitors, showing replicated products throughout the fair. no4: Design was also transferred into the art sphere with two exhibitions outside the fair. Berlin-based brand NEW TENDENCY were focused on nurturing emerging talent in their collaboration with Milan and Barcelona-based journal apartamento, where they selected three designers to make an edition of their famous CLICK shelf. At contemporary art gallery Ruttkowski;68, Mike Meiré (Cologne), Nathalie Du Pasquier (Milan) and Ill-Studio (Paris), showed their takes on the shelf. At Kölnischer Kunstverein, designs by Jasper Morrison were shown on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the A&W Designer of the Year award. The survey highlighted Morrison’s long-standing commitment to innovative, globally consciousness design. This example for younger designers to follow was supported by Morrison selecting Swiss designer Michel Charlot for the A&W Mentor Prize.
Praça do Toural, Guimarães, 2012 ©
Photo: Rita Burmester. Project: Maria M. Oliveira and Centro de Estudos
Following the two major exhibitions “Return of Landscape” in 2010 and “Culture:City” in 2013, Berlin’s Akademie der Künste is now working on their next project coming up in spring 2016 titled, “Demo:Polis”. This exhibition is dedicated not only to the future of public space but the right to this real, physical space. While the Internet simulated a virtual public sphere, its promise was disappointed by Wikileaks and Edward Snowdon’s revelations. In contrast to this, people are again voicing their views with relative anonymity by demonstrating in real public spaces. Today, social media and real public space are the new framework for self-determination. Neo-liberalism has made the real public sphere a target for commercial interests: from advertising, sponsored events and the sale of publicly owned property, almost every public privilege and property have been sold. As cities grow denser, building projects encroach more and more on public space, an issue in which citizens demand to have a greater say in. As an ambitious endeavor on a highly complex issue, always close to failure – just like the constant fight over the right to setting the rules for the meaning and use of public space – “Demo:Polis” will include an exhibition, a catalogue and a series of conferences and parliaments, bringing together multiple approaches and working principles.
Known for her avantgarde and constantly good taste, entrepreneur Nicole Hogerzeil has established herself as trustworthy style pioneer. Hogerzeil presents her favorite labels such as Dries von Noten, Marni, Isabel Marant, Common Projects and Perret Schaad in her new store SCHWARZHOGERZEIL on Torstrasse — taking the best and new designers from her two former stores. The layout of the 150 m2 space was conceived by the interior designer Sylvester Koziolek, who combines 1940s Parisian charm, inspired by Jean Prouvé, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand, with modern elements such as neon lighting and unique objects. The dominating, dark blue tones are echoed in the walls and the furniture, complementing the 14 meter long collage and curved lamps inspired by Royére. Keeping the same sense of individuality that Hogerzeil has assembling her clothing, Koziolek has created an environment to match her elegant assortment.
Tomás Saraceno, A translucent tropospheric cloud allowing for investigations into the potentials of sky-life. At Reykjavic Marathon, 2007 © Tomás Saraceno, 2007
The centenary of the Bauhaus in 2019 is still a few years ahead, but preparations are already taking place around the globe, demonstrating the ongoing relevance of its avant-garde ideas. „project bauhaus“ – an international initiative by designers, curators and researchers from Europe, the USA and Asia – was recently founded in order to conduct a lively debate on the currency of the Bauhaus. In the five years leading up to the anniversary, „project bauhaus” aims to take critical stock, offering a new question each year, beginning in 2015 with the question: Can design change society?
During an international symposium accompanied by a pop-up exhibition this September in Berlin, „project bauhaus“ provides an open forum to debate this question by placing valid positions in the context of historical models. It puts into question, if the aspiration of the Bauhaus and the classical avant-garde to positively change society through design has been validated – and takes a closer look at goals, roles, design methods, and the social construct in which designers are embroiled today. The participants of the symposium include: Gui Bonsiepe, Lilet Breddels, Bureau d’Etudes, John Grin, Boris Groys, Dorothea Hauser, Reinhold Martin, Philipp Oswalt, Planbude Hamburg, Christian Salewski, Tomás Saraceno, Bernd Scherer, Lara Schrijver, Luigi Snozzi, Margarete Vöhringer, Karin Wilhelm, Zones Urbaines Sensibles a.o.
Pop-up Exhibition: 3 – 20 September 2015 / Opening: 2 September, 7 p.m.
Symposium: 18 + 19 September 2015
Haus der Kulturen der Welt