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
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.
Heinrich-Heine-Allee; netzwerkarchitekten and the artist Ralf Brög. Photo Jörg Hempel
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.
Benrather Straße, netzwerkarchitekten and the artist Thomas Stricker. Photo Jörg Hempel
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.
Schadowstraße; netzwerkarchitekten and the artist Ursula Damm. Photos Ursula Damm and Jörg Hempel
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
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.
Top gate: Felix Torkar; Man at door: Offenbach, Portrait: Arthur Seitz Foto ©Jessica Schäfer; Flowers: Dong Xuan Center, Berlin Foto ©Kiên Hoàng Lê; Breakthrough: ©Kirsten Bucher; Houses: Quinta Monroy, Iquique, 2004, Architekt: Elemental, Chile Foto ©Tadeuz Jalocha; Mosque: Moschee in der Sandgasse, Offenbach Foto ©Judith Raum, 2010
For the 15th Venice Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, the German contribution cuts into the walls of the historic pavilion building in order to address the acute refugee situation. A powerful metaphor of opening emerges and encourages a discourse on new ideas and reliable approaches to the integration of asylum seekers. Walls are being broken in Venice as a commitment to the inviolable dignity of humankind. There will be no closed doors, day or night. The pavilion is open. Germany is open. The current refugee situation is part of a massive worldwide flow of migrants. What are the challenges facing cities with incoming refugees and migrants? How, in the future, can Germany’s “arrival cities” such as Offenbach respond, hypothetically shaping the conditions that create a good “Arrival City”? And how can architecture and urban design contribute to this process? The team of the Deutsches Architektur Museum (DAM) examines these questions at this year’s International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. With the exhibition Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country the DAM uses examples from Germany’s Arrival Cities to pose for discussion a series of theses developed in collaboration with the Canadian author Doug Saunders. His book Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World has inspired a shift in perspective on immigrant districts – a shift that is also applicable to Germany. Although these districts are typically characterized as “problem areas,” they offer residents and new arrivals the most important prerequisites of an Arrival City: affordable housing, access to work, small-scale commercial spaces, good access to public transit, networks of immigrants from the same culture, as well as a tolerant attitude that extends to the acceptance of informal practices. The design concept, developed by the architecture office Something Fantastic, underlines the strong statement of this year’s German Pavilion.
How will social conditions shape the built environment in Germany? Which factors trigger urban and regional changes? The publication Speculations Transformations addresses pending spatial transformations in Germany and speculates about their consequences for Baukultur: What is it like to live in a city that no longer pays in euros but in watts? What happens, when roads are no longer used by cars? What would the consequences be, if Germany were to measure its economic success in terms of civic wellbeing? Speculations Transformations was conceived within the framework of the “Baukulturatlas Deutschland 2030/2050” research project and commissioned in 2011 by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR). With an emphasis on “thinking in alternate futures”, the book reveals the triggers and drivers of spatial developments, while identifying the societal negotiations leading to specific built environments. This involves currently conceivable futures, already manifest in the present, yet subject to highly diverse evolutions.
Anne Collier’s Woman Crying #1 and Woman Crying #2; courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu (ACo/F 7)
Galerie Neu presents its first solo exhibition of the Los Angeles-born, New York-based photographic artist Anne Collier, which will trace her career from the early 2000’s up until present day. As one of the most exciting artists’ emerging in the field of photography, her imagery is romantic, sentimental and clichéd. She addresses these themes using a manual 4-by-5-inch camera and chemical processing and printing, a technique overly present in recent works such as Tripod (2016) and 35 MM / 2 ¼” (2016), both which feature in the exhibition. In these works Collier mixes stock advertising photography of camera equipment with materials depicting ostentatious sexism, shot in the neutral space of her studio. In doing this, the artist undertakes an autopsy of the photographic material and subsequently creates paradox between the original intentions of the investigated objects and the absolute control of a studio photography context.