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Is Modernism dead? The sinking of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye

Danish artist Asmund Havsteen-Mikkelsen's installation Flooded Modernity, a full-scale, 15 x 6 x 9m model of a corner of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye (1929), will float in the waters of Vejle, Denmark, until September 2nd. The sculpture, made of wood, polystyrene, and Plexiglas, is part of the Vejle Floating Art Festival.  The artist, Asmund Havsteen-Mikkelsen, imagined the 11,000-pound work of art as a comment on the ‘sinking’ of the public sphere after the disclosure of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the manipulation of democratic elections through social media.

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The powerful work of Christien Meinderstma on display @Vitra Design Museum

We know her works with and for Japanese label ARITA or have seen her many experiences with flax or linen, including the brilliant Label/breed Flax chair (picture above). The Vitra Design Museum team were right to dedicate their next exhibition to the works of Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma: "Beyond the Surface", the designer's first solo presentation outside her native country, will focus on her seeing the creation of a product as only one element of the design process. In her unique approach, she explores the mechanisms of modern industrial production, undertaking expeditions to factories and conducting meticulous detective work at waste disposal sites and workshops - while bringing her unquenchable thirst for knowledge to interviews with the protagonists of these adventures. The exhibition focuses on Christien Meindertsma's work with the materials of wool, flax, incinerator bottom ash and recycled wool. On display are projects such as the One Sheep Sweater (2010) - for which she produced garments from the coats of individual sheep - or the Flax Chair (Label/Breed, 2015), an innovative, sustainable piece of furniture made from a now rarely used material, which earned her the New Material Award and the Dutch Design Award in 2016. The exhibition (18 August 2018 until 20 January 2019) at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery will not merely concentrate on finished products, but material samples, prototypes and photographs. A particular focus lies on the production processes behind the completed object, which Meindertsma captures by means of films and publications - a method she refers to as "documentary design". This renders visible how deeply the designer dives into her subject matter, often exploring a topic for long periods of time and positioning one completed project as a launch pad for the next.

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Of toothpicks & design: “A Million Time” at Changi Airport, Humans since 1982

It took four years to complete this uncommon clock, that you can admire in the Terminal 2 at Singapore Changi airport, at the entrance of the departure hall. But to be fair, it took over ten years to its designers, Stockholm-based studio Humans since 1982, to refine this one-of-akind concept; the Changi example is one of its variations. "A Million Times" at Changi is both a kinetic sculpture and functioning clock composed of 504 smaller clocks and 1008 motors. With a width of 7.5m, the entire ‘clock face’ is wider than that of London’s Big Ben (7m). Each of the 1008 clock-hands (504-minute hands and 504-hour hands) are fitted with individual motors, giving the kinetic sculpture the ability to show various patterns, as well as the time and greetings in various languages across different times of the day. Bastian Bischoff and Per Emanuelsson are the founders of Humans since 1982. Since meeting as postgraduate students at HDK Göteborg in 2008, the duo are renowned to have produced works that defy easy categorisation, situated between visual art and product design. Creating objects and experiential installations, they describe their work as "analytical, with a healthy dose of escapism".

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At last! Tim Walker at the V&A, London

Whimsical, extravagant, out-of-this-world: the V&A museum have just announced an upcoming exhibition (well, we will have to wait a bit: 7 September 2019 – 8 March 2020) dedicated to the fantastical fashion photographer Tim Walker. You can admire some of his iconic pictures in this post we published in 2012. The immersive exhibition, showcasing everything from installations, films, photo sets, and at the heart of it all – a brand new photo-series influenced by the V&A’s collections. As well as as a retrospective of the photographer, the exhibition (designed by British art director Shona Heath) will also pay an homage to the contributions of his creative collaborators, from stylists, makeup artists, set designers, to models and artists who have all played a part in the creation of Walker’s magical worlds.

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Hans Tan: “Design can be a cultural driver for Singapore”

Hans Tan has just been crowned Singapore Designer of the Year 2018 (Product & Industrial design) at this year's President's Design Awards. He was already the recipient of two Design of the Year awards, in 2015 for his Pour table and in 2012, for the now famous Spotted Nyonya series.  Having studied design in both Singapore and the Netherlands, where he graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven, his works show a balanced combination of finely tuned industrial processes and knowledgeable artistic references, that is still too rarely seen in the Singapore design scene. Early on in his career (with the meaningful Petrified Victoria series in 2008, for instance, and probably earlier while studying at DAE), Hans Tan started using the most recent, refined technologies to write modern stories that can be read, each in a different way, as a testament to a rich, multi-layered cultural heritage (past, present and future). Observed carefully, his designs also reveal intricate tales of social evolution. In an interesting interview with the Business Times, Tan discusses the delicate topic of design as a thing of beauty and culture, as opposed to the general Singaporean view of design : "The DesignSingapore Council has played a tremendous role in improving the design scene, with scholarships and businesses opportunities. However, there is one thing I feel that can be improved. We tend to see design as an economic driver. In many other countries, design is a part of art. One way to push Singapore design further is to start seeing design as a cultural driver rather than an economic one. If we can get design to be more culturally driven, we can get people to appreciate their culture more. Perhaps we could have a design museum. When we display design outside of a shopfront, we will see design differently, and not just an item to be sold. It's the same with stamps; have them in a museum and we see them as part of history and culture." Words of wisdom...

HL 70 personal fan by Reinhold Weiss and Jurgen Gruebel for Braun, 1971. Photo by Wright

Dieter Rams was “Wright”

“Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.” (Dieter Rams) It’s not often that a contemporary designer gets its dedicated, (almost) solo auction nowadays. Obviously, Dieter Rams is not just any contemporary designer – but arguably the most influential industrial designer of the past century. Chicago-based auction house Wright just wrapped up their” “Dieter Rams: The JF Chen Collection” sale, featuring over 130 works by the iconic designer and his colleagues. The pieces had previously been exhibited by antique dealer Joel Chen in one of his Los Angeles showrooms. The sales grossed over $99,000. Dieter Rams' body of work includes more than 500 objects and furniture designs — from coffee grinders and razors to stereo components and projectors to universal shelving and seating designs — that are admired around the globe. Despite the variety and volume, his works illustrate a cohesive adherence to his philosophy of what makes good design.

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Joshua Smith’s wonders of “Urban decay”

Miniaturist and artist Joshua Smith’s intricately detailed models of overlooked Sydney buildings celebrate the beauty of urban grime, rust, decay and graffiti. "Urban Decay", showing at the Australian Design Centre (August 2 - September 25), will be his first solo exhibition. Joshua Smith (based in Norwood, South Australia) will unveil five intricately-crafted miniatures of buildings, one roller door and one dumpster, each constructed complete with ad hoc signage, graffiti and urban grime. The Sydney buildings include the Olympia Milk Bar in Stanmore, the Karim building in Wentworth Street and the Ginseng Shop in Haymarket, while a Milk Bar from Joshua's home town Adelaide and a Bodega from Brooklyn, New York round out the set. Smith has previously shown his miniatures in galleries and art fairs in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Formerly a self-taught stencil artist, Joshua ran Espionage Gallery in Adelaide for four years before concentrating on his career as a miniature artist in 2015. The exhibition offers insights into Joshua Smith’s meticulous approach to the creation of the works, including research conducted through Google Maps and photography, and the perfect recreation of each building’s facade in 1:20 scale using a variety of materials.

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Is Food Fiction? Presentation and narrative of food

The Design Museum Den Bosch (The Netherlands) is tempting your tastebuds and challenging your brain with "Food is fiction", on display until October 28th. "Food is fiction" draws on a wealth of designs to provide insight into the role of design for the food industry. It shows the importance of presentation and narrative: from the oldest commercials, iconic packaging for Droste and the first exotic products to culinary science fiction in Star Trek, hand-crafted imitation food from Japan, and the art of the food blog.