Sunday, 28 October 2012

Interieur 2012 Kortrijk

Interieur comes but once every 2 years and that's probably a good thing. It means the standard of exhibitor is high, the standard of exhibition design is high and visitors are eager to see whats on offer. Splitting the show into 2 separate venues, as the organisers did this year, may not be such a good thing, but more of that later.

Interieur at Kortrijk is a chance for the Benelux designers and brands to flex their muscle. With a tendency to be more decorative than the Scandinavians, and quirkier than the Italians, the show has a unique feeling. It's immediately obvious there is a strong curatorial team in charge, with each hall linked by a central corridor, gently guiding you around. Rather than have a single guest of honour, several designers were invited to create installations and temporary cafes on the theme "Future Primitives"  which interrupted the corridor. Makkink & Bey, Nendo and Muller Van Severen all created hugely different spaces.

Installation by Makkink & Bey
Installation by Nendo

One of the more attractive elements of Interieur is that space is given to design galleries, representing less commercial designers and "design-art". Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Galerie Greta Meert (showcasing works by Donald Judd), Valerie Traan (who represents Muller Van Severen amongst others) and Victor Hunt all had space within the main exhibition halls. After LDF, followed by PAD London and Frieze, it's good to see these different sides of the design industry can co-exist. 

Installation by Muller Van Severen
Less effective was the new Buda Island area in the city centre. A fleet of Audi cars in blue and pink Interieur livery carried you from one site to the other. The new zone focused on younger designers and brands and was almost a mini Zona Tortona. However, it felt isolated and had no interaction with the city around it. It may as well have been in an exhibition centre on the edge of town. However, the first time is always difficult, so we won't be too harsh. There were some definite highlights like the Troika ARCADES PROJECT, a site specific installation, and part of the Future Primitives programme, that created a cathedral of light.

It was also good to see Dennis Parren's CYMK light again (last seen tucked in a corner of Spazio Rossana Orlandi) and Vera, Chapter Two, a "must see" during LDF that we missed.

One strand that linked the two sites was the multitude of 3D printing. Long been mooted as the future of design, 3D printing or rapid proto-typing as it is also known, was by far the biggest trend on show. Stepping into the mainstream, it is not that difficult to envisage a day when a show like Interieur becomes an online only event and a visitor to the site can print out at home any of the designs that takes their fancy.  

3D printing at design vlaanderen
We have added an Interieur 2012 album with more images on our Facebook page.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Bruno Munari: My Futurist Past at Estorick Collection

Bruno Munari, one of the most prolific and diverse artists of the 20th century is being celebrated with an exhibition at The Estorick Collection in London.

Image via The Estorick Collection
Using his involvement with the Futurist movement as a young man as a starting point, the exhibition focuses on the first half of his career. Useless machines, Dada Alphabets, advertising, graphic design, textile designs...they're all there. Diverse in style, it is hard to believe it is all the work of a single person.
Image via The Estorick Collection
The work of his advertising studio R+M (one of the first in Italy) revolutionised the field with photography and photomontage, at a time when images were hardly used in ads.

Ad in Campo Grafico magazine. Image via The Estorick Collection
His mobile sculptures pre-dated the more famous works of Alexander Calder - but he always rejected the comparisons between the two. Yes, they were both conceived at about the same time (in the 1930s) and both were hanging objects, but they were made of different materials and where Calder's work is organic, Munari's work is geometric and harmonious.

Never elitist, Munari's writing is used as a resource by young and old alike - his text Design As Art is used by artists and designers alike, while his ABC and ZOO illustrated books are clever learning tools for children (but secretly enjoyed by just as many adults).


Bruno Munari: My Futurist Past at The Estorick Collection until 23 December 2012.

London Design Festival 2012

London Design Festival has grown tremendously since its inception 10 years ago. Sprawling across the city, in a way that once felt haphazard, it has now embraced zoning and is a better experience for the visitor as a result. Brompton Design District (including the V&A), Fitzrovia, Shoreditch Triangle.....all bite sized and easy to digest. Spend an afternoon in each and you don't come away feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the Festival.

As we were really rather late with our roundup of the Festival shenanigans, and as everyone has blogged, tweeted and Instagrammed the star attractions, we thought we might mention some of the smaller gems the Festival had to offer.

Crockery by Max Lamb was shown at Bramford on Draycott Avenue, Chelsea and also cropped up at the SCP Design Department Store in Shoreditch. Commissioned by 1882 Ltd. this series of jug, bowl and cup in fine bone china, looked anything but fine. Cast from plaster moulds hand carved by Max, these were super chunky, sturdy and imagined for everyday use. Not something to be left on a dresser for special occasions. 

Michael Anastassiades has been mentioned before on this blog, and for good reason. His new showroom on Lower Marsh is the perfect setting for his minimal works. Detailing and his use of materials are what elevate Anastassiades' work beyond desirability. Smaller in scale to the pieces shown in Milan and LDF in 2011, these pieces were subtle yet alluring.

The Conran Shop went RED to celebrate 25 years at the Michelin building in Brompton. Pillar box red to be precise. Confusingly, the exhibition was held in the Blue Room. Limited editions and one off pieces from Nendo, Jasper Morrsion and younger designers like Jonah Takagi in a single shade of red all made for quite an impact.

Gallery Libby Sellers hosted HOT TOOLS, a show of glass works by Masters students at ECAL (The University of Art and Design Lausanne). The result of a workshop run by Ronan Bouroullec, the pieces were experiments in glass, not necessarily complete works. However, we would have been happy to take any of them home.         

London Design Festival was the last hurrah for what has been an amazing summer in the city. The rain arrived on the last day, and just like that, summer was gone.