We took recent Design Academy Eindhoven grad Michael Kluver's "Just Chairs" as a sort of modernist pop quiz in itself, in keeping with the paraconceptual nature of the work. In fact, some of our favorite designs from this past Dutch Design Week 2011 [Gallery] were steeped in theory as much as practice.
Thus, while there were common threads (i.e. exhibitors) among the dozens of international Design Weeks/Festivals this year, we were pleased to see local designers reppin' the countries and cultures that they call home. The sense of time and place is more relevant than ever in the digital age, when images and ideas are readily accessed through the 'ether' of the Internet...
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We witnessed this zeitgeist-y sense of 'site-specificity' (to appropriate the visual arts term) in major cities the world over, perhaps most clearly at the first annual Beijing Design Week. The "Chinese Stuff" exhibit and Water Calligraphy Device Tricycle Hack (exactly what it sounds like?) both spoke to mainland cultural touchstones.
Of course, the runaway hit (i.e. the most popular exhibition among our readers) of Beijing Design Week was Naihan Li's CRATES, a collection of "mobile pop-up furniture" that is concealed within their unassuming namesakes.
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While we would have loved to get our hands on a CRATE of our own as a souvenir from the inaugural Beijing Design Week, Design Soil's just-as-aptly-titled "Souvenir" might also have made a nice keepsake from Asia. The series of furniture designed specifically to fit in a carry-on when disassembled, originally conceived as a group project at Kobe Design University, was exhibited at Design Tide Tokyo, one of the three major events that comprise Tokyo Design Week [Gallery], which takes place each year in early November.
Vienna is among the smaller design weeks on the annual calendar, but a couple exhibitions are worth a second look. For the annual VDW Passionswege ("Pilgrimage Ways") program, storied local glass company Lobmeyr teamed up with Canadian designer Philippe Malouin on a captivating installation piece that ran for the duration of the event. (We also liked his ceiling fan+lamp.)
The Salone Milan [Galleries] is, of course, arguably the biggest furniture and design event of the year, and our hopefully the extent of our coverage is commensurate to the scale of the week-long whirlwind of exhibitions and shows. You can see all of our Salone content here, but in keeping with the 'best-of' theme, we thought that "Botanica" by Studio Formafantasma was one of the standout exhibitions, taking a step back towards botanical/historical roots of materials science with a distinctly Italian flavor.
Given the brevity of the downtime between the Salone and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair [Gallery] and related events in New York City, many of the major furniture companies' new offerings make their stateside debut some four short weeks after their launch in Italy. However, New York is increasingly asserting its own identity—a distinctly American spirit of innovation and craftsmanship—that is perhaps best exemplified by the Noho Design District [Gallery]. The second year of the satellite show, produced by our friends at Sight Unseen, featured three stories of beautiful objects, including Uhuru's dazzling furniture and Lindsey Adelman's glasswares, not to mention so-called "McMaster-Carr" (We Are Familia revisited the raw/scrap material theme in "Kin Coda" exhibition at Fritz Hansen last month).
We caught a glimpse of Pierre Ospina's "Cricket Stool" at ICFF, but they seemed more at home at Tent London. Just as London Design Week [Gallery] is more or less in the middle of the second wave of European festivals (chronologically if not geographically), our favorite projects from this past September were diverse yet broadly European (Ospina originally hails from France).
We were on the fence about "DrinKlip," but thankfully we were able to blow off some steam with Christopher Jarratt's slingshots.
As always, the RCA had a strong showing: the London design school can stake a claim to alum Sebastian Bergne's Lego greenhouse and a couple recent grads' "Foldboat". Similarly, eco-minded cardboard furniture startup "Move-It" also started in the halls of the academy.