Our world is changing very fast, at an ever increasing pace and producing unexpected, sometimes disruptive, results. According to Guta Moura Guedes, the Portuguese curator of the exhibition "Flexibility - design in a fast changing society" (press release), designers must respond to this context by creating everyday structures and products that are highly adaptable or transformable.
Flexibility, defined as "the ease with which a system or component can be modified for use in applications or environments other than those for which is was specifically designed", is the leitmotiv of this must-see exhibition which takes place in the deeply unsettling surroundings of a fairly recently vacated prison in Turin, Italy - a space which is obviously not at all flexible.
But despite these constraints, Guta prevailed. Definitely the crown jewel of the events organised by Torino 2008 World Capital of Design, "Flexibility" is organised in two sections - a research part and an installation part - and raises a lot of highly valid questions.
The research section, set up in the central panopticon area of the prison, contains video installations showing examples of flexibility around the world, as well as examples of successful design objects and solutions dealing with this topic, grouped thematically: materials, shape, sustainability, spaces, body, services, cities, etc.
Nine designers or design teams - Bertjan Pot, Sigi Moeslinger and Masamichi Udagawa of Antenna Design, Ana Mir and Emili Padros of Emiliana, Reed Kram and Clemens Weisshaar, Giulio Iacchetti, Ross Lovegrove, Matali Crasset, Fernando Brizio, and Patricia Urquiola - were asked to make a site specific installation/project based on very open brief about flexibility, and the results are shown mostly inside the various prison cells of the women's wing.
The exhibition opened yesterday - at the eve of the World Congress of Architecture which starts tomorrow in Turin - and will run until 12 October.
Unfortunately there is no really good website of the show [hence this longer post], so you really need to see the exhibition on site, or get your hands on the catalogue, which also contains excellent essays by Ezio Manzini and Max Bruinsma. The press office of Torino 2008 assured me that photos will be uploaded soon. Meanwhile here is a short video that seems to have been shot yesterday.
Next door, in a disused railway repair hangar, you should go see "Torino 011 - the biography of a city" (some photos and videos), another spectacular exhibition explaining the massive urban transformations that have fundamentally changed this North Italian city in the last thirty years.
Both exhibitions are in concept, approach and execution driven by an international outlook and aimed at an international audience, yet they are also very much in and of Turin. Time for another visit to Italy, therefore!