Design and crisis

The latest issue of German design magazine form. Courtesy form

The most recent issue of German design magazine form asked me: “What is design?” My answer opens up the issue – and is transcribed below, in English. Many thanks to the editors Anton Rahlwes and Nina Sieverding!

Design is mediation. It is the glue that connects and engages with other disciplines, bringing together people, objects, systems and ideas. Although it was born out of the industrial revolution, and shaped by that paradigm, it is increasingly and surely – especially in Western Europe and North American regions – moving towards and finding itself in a postindustrial reality. This has only been accelerated by the current spread of the coronavirus. In this context, the design discipline finds itself in an acute identity crisis and needs to reshape itself, claiming territories and ambitions that are bigger than the knowledge silos that we still cling on to. Design needs to overcome disciplinary silos; it needs to become inclusive and diverse, decentralize its mythologies and welcome voices and points of view that aren’t white, male, Western. It also doesn’t need to generate anything physical anymore; it should be able to move and travel, as light as ideas.

Social matter, social design

A spread from Social matter, social design, edited by Jan Boelen and Michael Kaethler and published by Valiz. Courtesy Valiz.

I contributed an essay titled “The Self as Other: Vivien Tauchmann’s ‘minor gestures’ towards the entwinement of design processes and the body” to Social matter, social design, a volume edited by Jan Boelen and Michael Kaethler and just published by Valiz. My essay takes the work of designer Vivien Tauchmann as starting point, to explore notions of empathy and multisensorial experiences in contemporary design. Ultimately, I argue that Tauchamnn’s work is a model of a new kind of design, which opens paths for the discipline and other practitioners. A short quote below – the book can be ordered through Valiz’s website!

“As seen in these examples, Tauchmann’s work exemplifies practice that goes beyond social matter and towards a relational one—mediated through bodily movement and expression—not unlike life itself. These strategies confirm the designer’s strongly political stance, and her methods allow her to engage with designers in an unexpected and powerful way, as well as to reach audiences that do not traditionally engage with the design discipline or design discourse. At a time when the discipline reorients itself and begins to engage with a post-industrial future, beyond object-based entanglements and towards a relational practice, Tauchmann’s works are incredibly prescient, using design’s full potential to become a discipline not of production, but of mediation. In her forays towards the future of a discipline that is not yet defined, Tauchmann inhabits what scholar and educator Danah Abdulla describes as the “borderlands”, a place where a decolonial thinking of the design discipline can begin.”

Revisiting A School of Schools

Design Biennial Talks, a podcast series by IKSV / Istanbul Design Biennial.

One of the highlights of the lockdown period was talking to Deniz Ova, director of the Istanbul Design Biennial, Jan Boelen and Nadine Botha, alongside whom I curated the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, A School of Schools, in 2018. We revisited some of the themes of the biennial and their resonance in the present moment, in a conversation that was recorded for the biennial’s podcast series “Design Biennial Revisited”. You can listen to the episode here, and follow the series for more conversations. Thank you to the IKSV/IDB team!

Joining the Federal Design Commission

The Federal Design Commission. Photo Ruth Erdt / BAK

Since January I am one of the new members of the Federal Design Commission of the Swiss Confederation, a non-governmental advisory body that, among other things, forms the jury of the yearly Swiss Design Awards competition and grants a yearly career prize to designers in Switzerland. It is a great honor to join this incredible group of people and I look forward to my time serving as a member!

Opening New Doors of Possibility

It finally arrived at my doorstep! The incredible Atlas of Furniture Design, published by the Vitra Design Museum, was decades in the making, and I was proud to contribute an extended essay with Avinash Rajagopal that anchors the contemporary design section of the book. I also contributed several biographies of Italian designers, joining a stellar group of contributors that worked in this encyclopedic effort. Congratulations to the editors and all the team for a fantastic result!

Prototyping the Otherworldly

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The Fiction Practice: Prototyping the Otherworldly book. Photo courtesy Porto Design Biennale.

Following the Fiction Practice workshops earlier this Autumn, I wrote an essay with Jan Boelen for the Fiction Practice: Prototyping the Otherworldly publication. The book features contributions by an impressive roster of authors, and gathers impressions and accounts of the workshops and exhibition that we built together in September, exploring intersections between fiction and design. Fiction Practice: Prototyping the Otherworldly is published by Onomatopee and you can order it here.

Can an old format learn new tricks?

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The cover of Disegno #25 – A Year in Review. Image courtesy of Disegno.

I was happy to contribute an essay on graduate shows for the winter issue of Disegno, where I muse on the purpose of such an event; how the format has come to shape important Euro-centric design events; and how it can change and evolve beyond its tireless fascination with new, marketable talent. Disegno #25 gathers nineteen essays on themes that defined design in 2019, and I’m thrilled to be among a fantastic and inspiring group of authors as the year comes to an end. Thanks to the wonderful team at Disegno! You can order your copy here.

Devices for Dreaming

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Presenting at “Architectural Models: Theory and practice in scale”. Photo courtesy HEAD-Genève.

I was in Geneva to discuss architectural models at the conference Architectural Models: Theory and practice in scale, organized by the Interior Architecture Department of the school. The two-day event was organized as an experimental stage for discussion, and it was great to talk to master students about recent architectural exhibitions and events and how the model embodies so many contradictions within. Below the talk abstract – I’ll post the presentation video when it’s online.

The architectural model is unparalleled as a device for dreaming. Its regular use in architectural exhibitions and events attests to its allure, but also to the paradoxical impossibility of exhibiting the discipline these devices embody and attempt to represent. This talk will cover the ways in which architectural models have been used in recent architectural exhibitions and events, with varying degrees of efficacy.

Foreign Legion at the Vitra Speaker Series

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Foreign Legion portrait by Diana Pfammatter.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to discuss the Foreign Legion project, which I co-founded with Matylda Krzykowski, at the Vitra Speaker Series. We discussed the ambitions and goals of the project, and how the design industry can spearhead the transformation of the discipline into one that is more inclusive and diverse. Thanks to Vitra for the invite!

Add to the Cake at the Zukunftsforum

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Add to the Cake, the exhibition I curated with Matylda Krzykowski (under our moniker Foreign Legion) came to an end last 3 November. To mark the occasion, we had a panel discussion at the Japanisches Palais in Dresden, in the very room where it all started almost one year ago with the A Woman’s Work symposium.

Within the framework of the Zukunftsforum program, we sat with Thomas Geisler, director of the Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden, Kerstin Flasche, lecturer at the HFKD, and Vivien Tauchmann, designer and researcher, to reflect on the results of one year of work around the theme of the invisibility of female practitioners in design, architecture and the arts. The result has been recorded and can be seen in its totality here – mostly in German.

On Surrealism and Gender

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Meret Oppenheim, Gloves (Parkett Edition, no. 116/150), 1985
Courtesy of Ursula Krinzinger, photo: Jasha Greenberg, copyright for the works of Meret Oppenheim: © VG Bild-Kunst,Bonn 2019

I contributed an essay on the entanglements between Surrealism and gender for the catalogue of the Vitra Design Museum’s recent exhibition on the movement, titled Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924-Today and curated by Mateo Kries and Tanja Cunz. My essay proposes a re-evaluation of Surrealist notions of love and violence, analysing their relevance in the twenty-first century and detailing the problematic relationship between the two terms from the inception of Surrealism to the present day. It also covers the movement’s problematic relationship with gender, and with women in particular. It starts off with this fantastic quote by Leonora Carrington:

“The idea that ‘Our Masters’ are right and must be loved, honored and obeyed is, I think, one of the most destructive lies that have ever been instilled into the female psyche. It has become most horribly obvious what These Masters have done to our planet and her organic life. If women remain passive I think there is very little hope for the survival of life in this earth.”
– Leonora Carrington, 1970

The refusal to let women in is something that can be widely observed in the Surrealist movement. While it has been pointed out several times that women were indeed part of Surrealism, their voices were rarely heard, and even then, only well into the 1940s and later when the movement has arguably already dissolved and mutated, having lost much of its initial impetus. Yet, if women’s voices were overwhelmingly excluded, or just not recorded as part of the discourse, their bodies on the other hand were everywhere, as the prime subject of the male gaze in literature, films, the visual arts, and photographs. For the Surrealists, the woman is the ungraspable and fascinating other, the object of ecstatic love, the cause of ultimate misery and madness. Yet, no dialogue with this ungraspable other is attempted; instead, she is only further fetishized, imagined, objectified, destroyed.

My essay ends with a plea for a re-evaluation of the movement, and a revisionist take that doesn’t seek to redeem the male Surrealists’ reinforcement of patriarchal power relations.

It is perhaps by looking to the margins of the movement and peering into the interstices for traces of instability, that a re-evaluation of Surrealism can happen—beyond the misogyny, the violence, and objectification of women, and outside the gender binary. The power relations advocated by the Surrealists “are not natural but social constructs”, as Kuenzli asserts. “The male Surrealists’ blatant reinforcement of patriarchal power relations should not be theorized away in order to redeem Surrealism”, he continues. “They should be resisted, they should be rejected.”  It is in this rejection, combined with an exploratory, revisionist attitude beyond the binary, where a dismantling of the Surrealist canon can begin.

Design as Learning: Re-edit

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The opening of Fiction Practice: Young Curator’s Lab at the Porto Design Biennale. Photo courtesy Porto Design Biennale.

During this year’s inaugural Porto Design Biennale, curator Mariana Pestana invited Jan Boelen and myself to lead a workshop as part of Fiction Practice: Young Curator’s Lab. The three-day workshop ended in an exhibition at the Casa Museu Quinta de Santiago, in the vicinity of Porto. The workshop took as a starting point the Design As Learning: A School of Schools Reader publication, produced on the occasion of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, A School of Schools.

Through a series of group readings, discussions and site visits, we looked at design education from a wide variety of angles, from its power structures to the spaces where it takes place, and considered how various alternative pedagogical models have been implemented throughout time. These readings, visits and reflections were then re-thought, re-hashed and re-edited to form new reflections and alternative pathways for design, education and design education. 

As the workshop came to an end, participants selected specific issues found in Design as Learning to comment on, enriched by the insights of our time together. This materialized in a “re-edit”, which was expertly translated into a poster format by Zurich-based design office Offshore Studio. At the end of the workshop, our space of encounter was transformed into a space of display, and each poster hung above our roundtable, in dialogue with one another. This was a snapshot of what had happened, a summary of the scope of our discussions, a series of conversation pieces. But because we did not want the discussion to end with the workshop, or to be accessible only to those who had taken part, we invited Dutch designer Teis de Greve to contribute to our installation with an iteration of his A Ditto, Online Device project, specifically customized to respond to the essays of Design as Learning. 

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Introducing the project by Teis de Greve –A Ditto, Online Device. Photo courtesy Porto Design Biennale.

FB_IMG_1572562534068View of the Design as Learning: Re-edit room at Fiction Practice: Young Curator’s Lab. Photo courtesy Porto Design Biennale.

FB_IMG_1572562529004View of the Design as Learning: Re-edit room at Fiction Practice: Young Curator’s Lab. Photo courtesy Porto Design Biennale.

Design education and its futures at Hurra Hurra Festival

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An aspect of Hurra Hurra Festival. Photo by Benno Brucksch and Martin Patze.

It was a pleasure to spend a day in Halle to take part in the Hurra Hurra Festival, a student-organized, multilayered festival on design education that took place at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design. I discussed the work developed for the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, A School of Schools, and took part in a discussion about the environments of the school versus the real world. It was impressive to see the multiple tracks of engagement in the festival, from lectures to workshops, and performances to a night sauna– Thanks for having me!

Foreign Legion at the Porto Design Biennale

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Talking about the work of Foreign Legion at the Porto Design Biennale. Photo by Porto Design Biennale.

Last 27 September, Foreign Legion (a curatorial initiative I founded with Matylda Krzykowski) was invited to give a talk in the context of the inaugural Porto Design Biennale in Portugal. We presented the last year of work, starting with the A Woman’s Work symposium in January, and the two iterations of the exhibition Add to the Cake: Transforming the rules of female practitioners, which is on view at Kunstegewerbemuseum Dresden Schloss Pillnitz until 3 November.

The talk was an opportunity to showcase the issues we’ve been researching and working on, and anticipate some of the directions in which we’ll be focusing in the next months. The Porto Design Biennale audience was attentive and engaged, and we had an opportunity to continue the conversation throughout the evening and into the night. Thanks for having us!

Atlas of Furniture Design

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The Atlas of Furniture Design, published by the Vitra Design Museum. Photo by Kobi Benzeri Studio.

This November marks the release of the Vitra Design Museum’s Atlas of Furniture Design, a comprehensive overview of the last two centuries of furniture design. I was happy to contribute to this volume with an extensive essay co-authored with Avinash Rajagopal, focusing on the last forty decades of the design discipline and its developments during that period. Looking forward to holding this important tome in my hands later this year!

The Unmaking of Autoprogettazione

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Enzo Mari sitting in the Sedia 1. Photo by Juoko Lehtola/Artek.

“The Unmaking of Autoprogettazione”, a paper Avinash Rajagopal and I wrote together for the Design History Society 2017 conference, gained a new life as part of the excellent The Culture of Nature in the History of Design, edited by Kjetil Fallan. The book demonstrates that the deep entanglements of design and nature have a deeper and broader history than contemporary discourse on sustainable design and ecological design might imply, this book presents case studies ranging from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century and from Singapore to Mexico. Furthermore, it ventures into domains as diverse as design theory, research, pedagogy, politics, activism, organizations, exhibitions, and fiction and trade literature to explore how design is constantly making and unmaking the environment and, conversely, how the environment is both making and unmaking design.

In the last decade, amidst social and economical complexity that echoes the context of its original making, Autoprogettazione has resurfaced as a touchstone project that adds to the contemporary discourse. From Artek’s 2010 re-edition of Sedia 1 to Cucula, a Berlin-based non-profit, producing Autoprogettazione for and with refugees in 2015, the many ways in which the project has been quoted, echoed, repurposed or copied have shifted, altered and reinforced its original meaning. Our paper traces the making and unmaking of meanings in Autoprogettazione, analyzing the context that lead to the project’s inception and exploring its comeback in the last decade, whether as a platform for art and design exhibitions, a vehicle for do-goodism in times of humanitarian crisis, or as a propaganda tool for companies and their marketing agencies. Scrutinizing these instances, and exposing the shifts and appropriations the project has been subjected to, reveal how the original aim to critique the design industry has been appropriated and made part of the design industry itself, in varied and at times perfidious ways.

Add to the Cake: Transforming the roles of female practitioners

Add to the Cake: Transforming the roles of female practitionersOn the steps of Wasserpalais at Schloss Pillnitz, Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden. Photo by Klemens Renner.

Last 5 July, the Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden held the official opening of Add to the Cake: Transforming the roles of female practitioners, a project I curated with Matylda Krzykowski under the moniker Foreign Legion. The project started with the A Woman’s Work symposium back in January, and then evolved into a two-part exhibition, with a Preview opening back in 26 April.

With Add to the Cake, we wanted to take the conversation started at the symposium further: We commissioned various practitioners such as Ann Kern, Ji-hee Lee, Gabriel Maher and Garret Nelson to think about What happens when you Add to the Cake? — to think about the future. For the exhibition that opened 5 July 2019, spaces were transformed to give way to a series of installations on visions for the future of female practice. Simultaneously, various Visual Fictions by contributors such as Anne Dessing & Michel van Irsel, Gallery Stephanie Kelly, Kamau Patton and OOIEE, act as an expression of desire for something lacking here and now. The exhibition becomes the transformation it heralds, enacting futures that are inclusive, generous, all-encompassing and joyous.

Add to the Cake advocates that we can – and need to – add to the existing “cake”: infinite layers for an expanded canon. Adding to museum collections and to historical accounts, adding to collective memory and to possible futures. Most importantly, we must realise that “adding” enriches the existing context with multiple, varied voices and perspectives.

After the jump, an outline of all the work and new commissions that were developed as part of Add to the Cake, as well as some installation views.

Continue reading Add to the Cake: Transforming the roles of female practitioners

Digital Bauhaus 2019: Learning Design

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A walking lecture during Digital Bauhaus 2019. Photo Thomas Müller.

I was happy to be one of the speakers of this year’s Digital Bauhaus Summit in Weimar, Germany.  The conference gathers creatives, researchers and anyone interested in new cultural formations, exploring “the political dimensions of design: from collaboration to social design, from Luxury Communism to modernism, from ‘High & Low’ to this year’s topic ‘Learning Design’.”

Speaking about the learning experiences of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, A School of Schools, I shared some insights on the process and outcomes of the biennial, and was thrilled to continue the conversation on education, design, and design education. Thank you for having me!

Balkrishna Doshi: Speaking urgently to our times

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Balkrishna Doshi, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, 1977, 1992 © Iwan Baan 2018

The excellent Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People exhibition currently on display at the Vitra Design Museum offers a welcome and different take on what usually constitutes an architecture exhibition in our day and age. It is, in more than one sense, a breath of fresh air, and I was happy to review it for the June 2019 issue of Icon magazine – an excerpt can be found below. Thank you to Priya Khanchandani for the invitation!

Doshi’s architecture shows an urgency to address concerns that are more relevant than ever today, most notably his understanding of social spaces, of the necessity to create moments for encounters and conviviality. His most powerfully idealistic work – created in the early 1970s, a time of social and political transformation – manifests its utopian values in spaces that are inspiring and transformative. Faced with the impossible task of transporting visitors from Vitra’s museum on the German-Swiss border to these freewheeling triumphs of spirit, the exhibition nevertheless makes us dream.

Swiss Design Awards 2019: Design is Dead! Long live Design!

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The Swiss Design Awards 2019 campaign. Photography by Philippe Jarrigeon, Art Direction by Emmanuel Crivelli.

For the 2019 edition of the Swiss Design Awards, I was pleased to have the opportunity to write about this year’s prevalent themes and the excellent work of the nominees. In three essays that can be read online, I outlined the main areas of intervention in the nominees’ work; focused on practitioners working with diversity and inclusion as essential tenets; and delved onto work that goes beyond the boundaries of the industrial paradigm.

Below an excerpt of one of the essays, which can be read (alongside other excellent pieces) over at the Swiss Design Awards blog.

The 2019 Swiss Design Awards (SDA) display a snapshot of contemporary design concerns and directions, both within Swiss territory and undertaken by Swiss practitioners at a global scale. This year the SDA analyses and disseminates the work of the nominees by focusing on the broader themes that they bring into play, and placing the discussion around their work in a wider context. Various authors will contribute to this platform, analyzing the themes at play in the nominees’ work, while each individual project is presented by answering five practical questions: who, what, where, when and why? These inquiries will continue as well in the SDA exhibition and the public program associated with it.

Together, the work of this year’s SDA nominees showcase a wide variety of paths for contemporary design, away from silos and predetermined boundaries. The many facets of their work help push the boundaries of design, towards a discipline that becomes more inclusive, more conscious, and more self-determined. We look forward to showcasing their projects and visions their propose, as well as sharing the nominees’ stories in this platform over the course of the next few months. Design is Dead. Long Live Design!

Swiss Art Awards 2019: Making, connecting, and kittens

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My proposal for the Swiss Art Awards 2019. Poster design by Matylda Krzykowski.

It was an honor to be nominated for this year’s Swiss Art Awards in the Mediation category, and to have the opportunity to propose a new curatorial format to be tested out at the event itself. The competition is part of Switzerland’s oldest and most renowned art competition – the Schweizer Kunstwettbewerb (Swiss Art Competition). Organized annually by the Swiss Federal Office for Culture since 1899, the exhibition offers insight into current art and architecture making in Switzerland.

My proposal, Making and Connecting, sought to combat contemporary isolationism and our own biases and bubbles, by putting in place an experimental, relational methodology that aims to build network, explore common and uncommon ground, and share and broadcast knowledge within the Swiss Art Awards (SAA) 2020 community. It uses the SAA nominee group to put in place a variety of possibilities for encounter and exchange, allowing the SAA participants (and the general public that visits the exhibition and events programme) to exchange knowledge, learn from each other, and establish new nodes in a network that wants to migrate from a centralized dream – valid for the 20th century – to a decentralized, relational reality, in synch with the 21st century in which we live today.

Moving in: Das Verein

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This month marks the official move-in to the new office I’ll be sharing with a bunch of interesting people in Basel, and we’ve called in Das verein. Over the course of the next months, we hope that it will grow into much more than just a shared office space – becoming a platform for exchanges, sharing knowledge and opening up possibilities. I’ll share what we’ll be up to soon.

Bienal da Maia 2019: Design looks ahead

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Performance by Acro Clube da Maia in front of AATB’s “A Particular Score” installation. Photo by Rita França.

When Andreia Garcia invited me to curate the Design program of the 2019 Maia Biennial of Contemporary Art, which she was overseeing as chief curator, I was overjoyed for a number of reasons. First, here was an opportunity to work in my home country of Portugal for the first time in ten years; second, it allowed me to stretch the definition of what is design in an event that just incorporated in its program; and finally, it gave me the opportunity to commission new work to some of the most interesting designers working in Portugal and abroad at the moment. I was thrilled to be able to develop new work with AATB, Catarina Carreiras, Orlando Lovell and Pedro Augusto, and had a lot of fun curating the design program of the biennial with Inês Revés. Below an excerpt of the essay detailing the curatorial approach, and more details on each commission after the jump below.

In post-industrial, twenty-first century Europe design is facing a transitional moment. Born with the Industrial Revolution, this discipline experienced a moment of great abundance after the post-war reconstruction boom of the 1950s. The capitalist explosion of the mid-twentieth century brought along the fiction of endless growth. We now know – after the hard consequences of the last two decades – that this was not true. Among financial crises, global warming, the potential failure of the European project and mass layoffs, the context in which the discipline emerged is no longer extant. We face a brave new world in which crisis spread to the point of becoming a quasi-permanent state of affairs, and in which the confrontation of preceding decades will no longer exist. At this moment, we must question all certainties of the last hundred years in order to dream and invent what is yet to come, and to test out a future that we are unable to envision.

In this context, design has met with an impasse, a moment of profound questioning in which the questions that were always answered no longer make sense and the silos of specialization into which it developed are increasingly less relevant. Today, graphic and product design have expanded to encompass other fields and disciplines as new specializations take shape with abstract names such as conceptual design, speculative design, biodesign, social design. Designations aside, what unites these new areas is a sceptical, questioning attitude regarding what design is and what it could be. At the same time, the new ramifications of design are not enclosed in a single disciplinary silo but seek dialogue and mediation with other disciplines – from the social sciences to biology, from economy to literature. This is the advent of a new mentality and new priorities for this disciple: on the one hand, it has realized that its initial objectives are not sustainable; on the other, it recognizes that this is a moment for reinvention and opportunity.

Today, design works with other disciplines as a mediating discipline. It takes on multiple forms and scales, it is visible and invisible, it does not necessarily generate objects or solutions, but interactions, connections and possibilities. Above all, it generates many – if not all – of our interactions with the world, from the technology that we carry in our pockets every day to our relationship with our governments, distribution systems and one another. In doing so, it is a platform for deep experimentation and, most of all, a meeting point.

The Maia Biennial of Contemporary Art ‘19 disciplinary axis of Design also wants to be a meeting point, a stage for sharing, for knowledge, for points of view and modes of producing. In doing so, it carries with it the contemporary reality of design, proposing new ways of making design. Guest participants have all presented new commissions. Two of them manifest formally and occupy the territory with large-scale installations; two other manifest invisibly through interactions with the territory and its inhabitants to generate unexpected unforeseen and multi-sensorial results. All of these are modes of making design; and they are all pathways for contemporary design.

Continue reading Bienal da Maia 2019: Design looks ahead

Add to the Cake: Preview

Foreign Legion and Raby-Florence Fofana amidst the scenography developed for Add to the Cake. Photo by  Jenny Peñas for Freunde von FreundenForeign Legion and Raby-Florence Fofana amidst the scenography developed for Add to the Cake. Photo by  Jenny Peñas for Freunde von Freunden.

Following the A Woman’s Work symposium which I organized with Matylda Krzykowski under our Foreign Legion moniker, we were invited to transform the symposium material into an exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Dresden. This was an incredible opportunity to further continue working in the themes first developed in the symposium and allowed us to further test and stretch a commonly known format – the exhibition.

We titled the project Add to the Cake: Transforming the Roles of Female Practitioners, and structured it over the course of two iterations. The first was a preview, in which we worked through the themes discussed in the symposium and presented them in a three-dimensional space, surrounded by the many references, examples and role models discussed on that occasion. This was all presented amidst custom scenographic elements developed by Andrea Anner and Raby-Florence Fofana for the occasion.

The second iteration of the exhibition will open on 5 July, and present a variety of visions for the future of female practice specifically commissioned for the show. Below an excerpt of the curatorial text:

Contemporary cultural constructs have us believe that not everyone can get a fair share of the cake, and that only a limited few can write history. In the case of female practitioners in design, architecture and the arts, their erasure from the history and the memory of their disciplines has been systematic; but in the first two decades of the 21st century, they have regained visibility. In this pivotal moment, female practitioners have the chance to usher in an important transformation for their disciplines.

We can – and need to – add to the existing cake: infinite layers for an expanded canon. Adding to museum collections and to historical accounts, adding to collective memory and to possible futures. Most importantly, we must realize that ‘adding’ doesn’t mean ‘taking away’, but that it enriches the existing context with multiple, varied voices and perspectives.  

The exhibition Add to the Cake is an exercise in enacting the kind of transformation that design, architecture and arts are about to experience. It develops over the course of an exhibition, an active public program, and a series of performative moments over the course of six months.

Add to the Cake could not have been developed without the unwavering support of the Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden’s team, especially Nils Hilkenbach. A few installation shots, all by Klemens Renner, can be seen after the jump.

Continue reading Add to the Cake: Preview