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’.
“A man who wants to lose his self, discovers indeed, the possibilities of human existence, which are infinite, as infinite as is creation. But the recovering of a new personality is as difficult – and as hopeless – as a new creation of the world.” – Hannah Arendt, We Refugees, 1943
Akademie der Künste in Berlin presents Uncertain States, a major group exhibition and multimedia programme of events running until January 15, 2017. Current and historic states of oppression, human migration and cultural dislocation are addressed within a dynamic framework, which has already drawn widespread critical acclaim in Germany. The extensive exhibition programme is a timely exploration of the significance of memory and narrative, within eras of political, social and cultural transformation. Across art, archival ephemera, film, music, performance, talks, pop-up events and practical workshops, the show engages with migrants, thinkers, politicians, writers, artists and activists from across the world, as they confront today’s realities of forced displacement, cultural loss and mass emigration. A historical element of Uncertain States features objects sourced from the Akademie der Künste’s archives of artist émigrés, including cultural icons such as Walter Benjamin, Valeska Gert, Heinrich Mann and Kurt Tucholsky. Their artifacts, rich in memory and cultural identity, form a vibrant narrative when paired with artworks by modern-day artists. In addition to the group exhibition, a rich programme of events seeks to contextualize global political perspectives on migration and identity, within an artistic framework. Talks and panels will debate the topics of migration from the Middle East in particular, addressing themes such as reactionary xenophobia and Islamophobia. Under the banner of “Thinking Space” (Denkraum) a programme of concerts, readings, theatrical performances and symposia, tackle numerous questions surrounding these topics with original and challenging approaches.
Initiated in 2014 by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana, Future Architecture is the first European platform dedicated to bringing ideas on the future of cities and architecture closer to the public. The initiative unites museums, festivals and producers, and promotes a new generation of creatives through a vibrant programme of outstanding architectural events in a number of European cities. Individuals from various disciplines get the chance to present and apply new ideas on architecture concerning both our current reality and the near future. At the core of the concept lies the question: How can architecture evolve and how should it be shaped moving forward? The aim is to make complex issues of architecture comprehensible to everyone, and nurture a more sustainable living environment.
“Ideas promoted through the Future Architecture Platform show that, for the emerging generation of professionals, architecture is not necessarily an activity whose sole purpose is to build, but rather a field of intellectual research. This generation feels the need to consider all of architecture’s different aspects, to change the understanding of it as a business model, and to re-establish the discipline’s commitment to society. They show architecture as a way of thinking, observation and analysis of the modern world in which we live and operate.” — Matevž Celik, platform leader and director of the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO), Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Budding talents within the multifaceted spectrum of architecture explore and share their ideas at exhibitions, workshops, lectures and more. Creatives who apply to the programme are matched to members of different institutions and organisers in order to present innovative ideas in synergy. So far, among a number of different events included in the first year, Something Fantastic’s lectures and conferences at Swiss Architecture Museum Basel,S AM Basel, and CANactions Kiev discussed the design intelligence of arrival cities and the importance of collective spaces. Also, the architecture office Plan Común explored the power of micro-interventions in public spaces with their exhibition “Common Places” in Nove Fužine. And acclaimed writer Jack Self suggested using financial conditions of debt as a design tool to create high-quality and inexpensive homes at S AM Basel.
Cycle Music and Art Festival serves as an international and local platform for contemporary music and visual arts as well as the coalition of the two fields. Now in its second year, the festival promulgates unconventional works and collaborations, with the goal of deeply engaging the audience and making them reconsider their preconceptions about disciplines and their role as spectators. Acclaimed artists are invited to produce and exhibit work that transcends the boundaries between art and music, classical and popular modes, and audience and performer. That Time, the title of this year’s performance programme and exhibition, will initiate yet another interdisciplinary experiment that will delve into the questions of ‘deep time’ and ‘peak futures’ (the title takes its cue from Samuel Beckett’s eponymous play, parroting the protagonist C: “Never the same after that never quite the same but that was nothing new.”). With an exhibition at Gerðarsafn Kópavogur Art Museum and other venues in Kópavogur, and a rich programme of performances, workshops and concerts, Cycle will promote experimentation, on-site synergies, and will seek to redefine the nature of a traditional art festival. That Time will run until 18 December.
Internationally renowned industrial designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec elucidate their thoughts on urban development and public spaces by presenting a diverse body of work and the results of their ongoing research at the Vitra Fire Station. What can be seen as a wide-ranging study of possible development solutions for cities, the exhibition Rêveries Urbaines seeks to list new forms and concepts that may be imagined in various urban settings. Like glimpsing inside the brothers’ notebooks, the proposed solutions are revealed to visitors as they wander through models and animations, immersing themselves in different scenarios and urban fictions. Unlike the duo’s usual domestic approach to design and focus on the individual, the exhibited proposals solely concentrate on public spaces and the relationship between inhabitant and city. The metamorphosis of spaces through lines, harmony and transparency aims to give a new sense of magic to the places in our cities where we walk, meet and talk. The designers’ “dreamscapes” take into consideration pre-established urban functions and remind us of a new direction in the connection between buildings, the quality of a pavement, where a fountain is situated, the planting of a jungle; all the elements that city dwellers should care about in order to add more charm to the city.
“The exhibition presents our open and abundant research, a ‘pragmatic reverie’ that is designed to exist in public spaces.” – Ronan
“In our work, no project is dedicated to a particular person or place. The exhibition brings together propositions for developing public spaces that have an element of abstraction. They reply to a question that is not completely clear. It is in this vacuum that? our propositions could be potentially re-imagined on site.” – Erwan
Is blood thicker than water after all? The widely known proverb implies that family relationships are stronger than friendships and should never be substituted by the latter. However, a new exhibition at the Kunstpalais in Erlangen titled Thicker than Water: Family concepts in contemporary art seeks to challenge this dogmatic opinion by initiating a discussion on the meaning of family within the ever-evolving contemporary society. In order to delve deeper into how the classical family structures have changed over recent years, the exhibition has invited the artists Candice Breitz, Simon Fujiwara, Badr el Hammami & Fadma Kaddouri, Nan Goldin, Verena Jaekel, Haejun Jo, Nina Katchadourian, Ragnar Kjartansson, Neozoon, Johannes Paul Raether, Gillian Wearing and Tobias Yves Zintel to present their understanding of the term through pieces of art. Developments in technology, and the appearance and acceptance of new lifestyles influence the broad social debate about family, leading to question whether the term is now open to all individual interpretations. Taking into consideration that familia, the Latin origin of the word, translates to household, the exhibition suggests that the term could refer to a community based on voluntary commitment rather than blood relations. Therefore, the main question that arises is: Is family nowadays based on a personal choice and no longer a genetic chance? The exhibition will be accompanied by a conference inviting speakers from sociology, art history, literature and cultural studies to discuss this interdisciplinary topic.
“My greatest enjoyment and satisfaction in the solution of any project is uncovering the latent fantasy and magic in it.” — Alexander Girard
Photos: Ingo Mittelstaedt
Two objects facing each other in a glass display case like two protagonists in a state of momentary inertia right before delivering their lines on stage. The objects’ potential functions, and aesthetic qualities encourage the viewer to further dissect their characteristics and initiate a dialogue. And that’s precisely Design Display’s objective: the exhibition series at the Autostadt in Wolfsburg seeks to demonstrate the role design plays in our daily lives and to proliferate discussions about its social and political dimensions. Every four months, Design Display presents a new exhibition featuring two design projects, and releases an accompanying magazine that mimics the duality of the setting while delving deeper into the chosen subject through essays and opinion pieces. Starting in July 2016, the new exhibition’s pervading theme is “simplicity”—an underlying design principle that for many is the key to happiness in objects, embodied through abstinence, reduction and focusing on the essentials. For this iteration, the glass case is inhabited by Jasper Morrison’s cutlery for Muji and Rafael Horzon’s Modern shelf. A constant conceptual thread in Morrison’s work, the act of simplifying is evident in his designs for the Japanese company. Cutlery should first and foremost feel good in the hand—the simple and simultaneously elegant form is not an end in itself but instead derives from its use. On the opposing end of the glass rectangle, we find a shelving unit that suggests a different kind of simplicity, one that’s based on the notion of quick, easy and inexpensive design. Horzon’s Modern shelf stands as an ode to material reduction with hints of humour and irony. Albeit ordinary and unremarkable, Horzon’s storage unit puts emphasis on the importance of the basic and the narrative behind its creation. For more information on the exhibition series visit Design Display’s website.
Following its opening to the public in February 2016, Dusseldorf’s Wehrhahn line is now in full use and worth revisiting to dissect its singular aspects in more detail. Fifteen years in the making, the recently acquired U-bahn expansion is a refreshing approach to inner-city mobility and a nod to the future possibilities of public transport aesthetics. Collectively designed by artists, architects and engineers from the very outset, the ambitious project offers an unparalleled art and architecture experience to commuters who are invited to immerse themselves in soundscapes, geometric animations and sculptural installations. Here art is not merely showcased on the walls but it has deeply infiltrated the entire structure—each of the line’s six stations have become pieces of art complete with their own thematic character but also seamlessly incorporated in an all-encompassing system. And that’s certainly not the norm when it comes to public transport—the line’s overarching concept initiates a dialogue between disciplines that’s visually perceptible throughout. From acoustic impulses, sound bites and interactive installations to a planetary underworld dedicated to outer space and poetic texts transformed into sculptures, the line’s stops highly elevate the long-neglected notion of the subway. At the Heinrich-Heine-Allee station, artist Ralf Brög designed the three entrances as visual and acoustic venues for the performance of changing sound compositions—an “Auditorium”, a “Theater” and a “Laboratory”. Each of the three model spaces boasts a high-quality sound system, enabling the most wide-ranging acoustic interventions possible.
Space is the place at Benrather Strasse where sculptor Thomas Stricker embedded the vastness of the universe with its tranquility and weightlessness into the confined space of a subway station. To achieve the impression of flying in outer space, stainless steel panels cover the walls and lend the station a futuristic dull, metallic sheen. Like droplets, the dots stamped in the panels fall from the walls, forming a matrix or a kind of Braille that can be identified as encrypted letters while media walls act as windows to the universe.
At Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm has created an interactive installation featuring a large screen displaying the real-time movements of passersby on the city surface transformed through a computer program into visualised data. The constantly shifting dynamic of the ‘outside world’ is presented to those waiting for the next train below. Small virtual creatures build a temporary, fluctuating architecture from the kinetic energy that emerges and vanishes with the city’s daily rhythms.
Another crucial element of this feat is the complete absence of advertisements and any sort of commercial placement. Thus, the individual stations become calm public spaces that alleviate commuting stress, render urban movement more pleasurable, and slow down the frenetic pace. Admittedly, exemplary underground stops are nothing new in the map of so-called “art stations”—in Naples the Toledo stop covered in blue-hued mosaics pays tribute to the aquatic world; Stockholm’s Solna station emits the ambience of a villain’s lair complete with a cavernous interior; while in Moscow the Komsomolskaya stop competes with the theatrical flair of opulent palaces. What’s unprecedented about Dusseldorf’s Wehrhan line is that these “art stations” are not merely stand-alone architectural projects but are part of a holistic network that seamlessly connects all six stops under one conceptual direction, creating a multifarious experience.
In a special edition published by Kerber Verlag, the impressive undertaking in public transport is thoroughly presented through photos and text elaborating on the project and the visions of the people involved. The Wehrhahn line is also accompanied by a newly launched website that delves into the line’s concept, process and distinctive characteristics—have a look here.
The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO, Ljubljana) has launched an open call for participation in FARAWAY, SO CLOSE – 25th Biennial of Design, curated by editor and curator Angela Rui and MAO curator Maja Vardjan. The open call is dedicated to designers, architects, filmmakers, graphic designers, interaction designers, illustrators, writers, animators, photographers, researchers and other interdisciplinary agents who see the biennial as an experimental, collaborative platform for testing, developing and sharing their own approaches and expertise around the issues and structure of the new biennial format. From 25 May to 29 October 2017, FARAWAY, SO CLOSE will present seven local interventions under the main exhibition umbrella. For this, seven creative figures from Slovenia have been selected for their projects outside the field of design and paired with international designers to form a team. Selected participants will work within these teams and together they will use design and architecture as tools for investigating contemporary issues.
Read more in an interview with the two curators on Domus.
Application deadline: 10 July 2016
Kick-off event: 15 September 2016, Ljubljana
More information and application: www.bio.si/en