When designer duo Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby observe that “the rules of formal work are dissolving, resulting in the archetype of classic desk disappearing”, they underline a growing transformation of work environment, setting the scene for Vitra’s latest presentation at Orgatec trade fair. Under the tile “WORK” Vitra addresses the increased merging of office and public space, highlighting three exemplary office concepts which make propositions for the changing needs of modern work. Konstantin Grcic’s concept of “Superflexible Office” deals with the possibilities of constantly rebuilding the office while still preserving its identity: open to be reconfigured as a meeting room, a café or a communal space. With “Company Home”, the architect Sevil Peach has developed a different scenario which also includes a park and a dining area – elements of public space that are becoming an integral part of architecture in more corporate headquarters. “Shared Office” blurs the boundaries between the office and the public space, as we become more familiarised with working in environments such as co-working spaces, cafés and hotel lobbies. As part of this concept “Soft Work” is a new modular sofa system by Vitra that responds to these conditions, developed in collaboration with designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby.
What is social design and is there such a thing anyway? The term is typically used to label the work of those designers and architects who focus on tasks born out of humanitarian and socio-political issues, and it has often gone hand in hand with moralism and sweeping declarations. In a world growing deficient in both resources and energy, questions regarding inclusion, social justice, and sustainability are becoming more relevant to today’s design than ever before. In the 1960s and 70s Viktor Papanek was among the first to address not only issues of living conditions, class and income difference, but also environmental responsibility. Many designers practicing today carry in their pocket his “little green book” Design for the Real World (1971), which remains the most widely read book about design ever published. The exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum dedicated to the life and work of this prolific author, designer and lecturer is set to re-examine methods, usage and applications of Papanek’s approach to design as a political tool. Both a retrospective and a thematic exhibition, it gathers his manifold drawings, objects, films, manuscripts, and prints, some of which have never before been presented. Drawing upon his inter-disciplinary and collaborative methods, the exhibition forges dialogues between contemporary works from the areas of critical and social design, and radical positions from the 1960s to 1980s, including legendary figures such as George Nelson, Richard Buckminster Fuller, Marshall McLuhan, or the radical design initiative ‘Global Tools’. Contemporary works from the areas of critical and social design provide insight into Papanek’s lasting impact.
Victor J. Papanek, We are all handicapped (drafted with students in 1969). Section from Big Character Poster No. 1: Work Chart for Designers (1973). | Victor J. Papanek, Tin Can Radio, 1971. | Victor J. Papanek filming the WNED-TV Channel 17 programme Design Dimensions in Buffalo, NY (1961 – 1963). | Victor J. Papanek, The minimal design team (drafted with students in 1969). Section from Big Character Poster No. 1: Work Chart for Designers (1973). | © University of Applied Arts Vienna, Victor J. Papanek Foundation
Andrea Fraser, Little Frank and His Carp, 2001 © The artist, Galerie Nagel Draxler | Jeewi Lee, Einschlag © The artist | Raul Watch, Eureka, 2015 © The artist | Wermke / Leinkauf, Überwindungsübungen, 2015 © Wermke / Leinkauf
© Thomas Meyer
Berlin is a fascinating yet chaotic whirlwind of clashing architectural sites, with some of its most monumental and distinctive landmarks inherited from the German Democratic Republic era. Distinctively embodying the GDR’s engineering ambitions, Funkhaus is a colossal broadcasting centre and studio complex designed during the 1950s by the distinguished Bauhaus architect Franz Ehrlich. His job was to create the world’s largest and most sophisticated recording facility that promised to be an ideal marriage of German functionality and Eastern decadence. It was constructed to symbolize the virtues of equality, collectivity and openness by bringing a wide array of musical genres under one roof. Red Bull Music Academy is celebrating their 20th anniversary at the historic complex, which has been converted into a creative microcosm. 61 international musicians have been selected to participate in the Academy, they will have the opportunity to exchange ideas, learn new things and expand their musical vocabulary. Design studio New Tendency has created a bespoke furniture collection for the Academy, combining lounge modules, tables and sofas that bring back the essence of Bauhaus design principles and through a poetic and playful tone rejuvenate the functional and rational aesthetic of the interiors. Part of the transformation is an exhibition showcasing Berlin’s established and most promising emerging artists. Hailing from different generations, the artists have been carefully selected by Johann König. The exhibition takes central stage at the Lecture Hall with large-scale paintings by Karl Horst Hödicke, a pioneer of German neo-expressionism and a representative of the New Figuration, depicting Berlin in the decades before and after the fall of the wall.
Parallel with Art Basel, the Swiss Design Awards exhibition offers a detailed insight into contemporary Swiss design. From richly diverse areas of photography, graphic design, fashion and textile design, product and industrial design as well as scenography and mediation, the jury will grant 17 Swiss Design Awards to selected participants. 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 winners of the renowned prize this year are textile designer Cécile Feilchenfeldt, manufacturer of professional pruning shears Felco and graphic designer Rosmarie Tissi.
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.
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?