Saturday, June 16, 2012

Helsinki FRESH Exhibition: Direktorenhaus, Berlin until July 8, 2012

Here's a design review that I wrote for Berlin fashion newspaper DERZEIT... Stay tuned for more in the lead up to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin.

Helsinki FRESH: 25 Young Creatives is the book accompanying the exhibition

It’s no secret amongst design trendsetters: Helsinki is so hot right now. It’s the 2012 World Design Capital, design bible Monocle named it the world’s most liveable city, and now Berliners can view Helsinki’s freshest design talents without journeying beyond the U-bahn.

Arts co-operative Helsinki FRESH has taken over Berlin’s Direktorenhaus with installations from 25 creatives featured in its recent publication (launched last month and on-sale in the exhibition’s pop-up shop). It’s the first Berlin event staged by the creative agency, which was founded to promote cultural exchange between the two design-conscious cities. The exhibition is fashion-focused – incorporating textile design, illustration and photography – but the participants have customized their allocated spaces in diverse ways, and with varying degrees of success.

We’re suckers for Marimekko, the Finnish company whose bold, retro prints defined Modernist textile design, so we loved Jenni Tuominen’s lounging area of oversized, screen-printed objects. The Pattern Bakery, a studio specializing in patterned designs and illustrations, showcased their work on the panels of giant origami paper cranes – the Direktorenhaus’ wooden ceiling installation proved to the perfect setting for these guys (it even smelt like a Nordic pine forest!). 

The Pattern Bakery's Miia Pöytälaakso does fine tuning for height of origami birds
Photo: Heidi Uutela
Design Forum Finland has a pop-up shop at the exhibition, and the products show that leather craft and eco-friendly materials and processes – as well as textile design – are common strengths amongst this bunch.

Helsinki FRESH runs until 8th July, and is throwing a Finnish Midsummer Party on 22nd June including food, drinks, music and sauna.

Friday, June 8, 2012

DMY International Design Festival: Tempelhof Airport, June 6-10

Here's a design review that I wrote for Berlin fashion newspaper DERZEIT... Stay tuned for more articles in the lead up to Mercedes-Benz Berlin Fashion Week.

Exhibitor stands at DMY International Design Festival
Whether you’re looking for slick one-offs to furnish your Kreuzberg altbau, or have a thing for creatives who know their way around Auto CAD, the DMY International Design Festival’s central exhibition at Berlin’s Tempelhof airport will be epicentre for design types until June 10.

Spread across four of the former airport’s gigantic hanger spaces, the western end houses most of the independent design firms’ stands and, at least on opening night yesterday evening, attracted a lot of the action (read: designer networking, schmoozing, beer drinking and Tischlaufen tournaments).

Tischlaufen on an exhibitor stand
In the DMY International Design Festival’s 10-year history, this is the third consecutive year that Tempelhof has hosted the central exhibition, and for the first time this year visitors can view the nominees for the 2012 German Design Prize (the winners aren’t announced for a few months yet). It’s worth picking up an exhibition catalogue or at least sussing out the curated group exhibitions and various design competition nominees before tackling the show. The festival’s judging panel has already earmarked 10 nominees for the 2012 DMY Award – these aren’t highlighted on their respective stands – and include the blue foam Imagination Playground by architect David Rockwell (designed for children, but utterly appealing to grown-ups), and Joland van der Wiel’s Gravity Stool which uses magnetic fields to create freaky, organic forms. Vienna design studio Chmara.Rosinke’s mobile kitchen and dining cart is a great example of many exhibitors’ concern with sustainable living solutions for collective interactivity.

The Rockwell Group's Imagination Playground
Gravity Stools by Joland van der Wiel
The “Instant Stories” exhibit, curated for Milan’s Salone del Mobile in April by local designers Werner Aisslinger, Fabien Dumas and DMY Berlin, provides a who’s who of Berlin product and industrial design. Each designer was allocated a crate space to present their project and story within a still-life scenario.

“Connecting Concepts”, a travelling exhibition from The Netherlands, addresses the notion of Dutch design as a recognizable style, and aims to initiate a dialogue with its host’s design culture. The curated exhibition showcases new materials and production techniques, such as denim label Gluejeans’ use of glue instead of conventional cotton stitching and rivets, and Tjeerd Veenhoven’s DIY model for building a low-cost carbon fibre bike frame from old, discarded parts.

Furniture and product design dominates the field of independent designers, studios and institutions exhibiting at the event. For many independent designers, such as locals Sigurd Larson, Stiks’ Joachim Frost, and Robert Hoffman (sharing a stand with Hamburg designer Markus Krauss), the DMY exhibition provides the opportunity to show prototypes and network with peers, as well as – ideally – making sales. While somewhat overwhelming for a first-time design show visitor, the event at Tempelhof is still a lot more low-key and casual compared to Milan’s annual furniture fair. However, if you’re struck down with design overload – or “gallery backache” after three hours on your feet – the bar and dining area in the central hall provides some respite (alternatively, just go straight for retail therapy at concept store Voo’s stand at the main entrance).