CHRISTMAS AT KEW GARDENS

I’ve never been to Kew Gardens so which better opportunity than going to these magnificent botanical gardens during Christmas with a beautiful light show going on. 

It was indeed magical. A mile-long trail lead us through all these beautiful installations. Buildings, monuments, and trees were lit up.

CLARE KENNY, ENOUGH ROPE TO HANG 'EMSELVES'

By wandering around the neighbourhood after my visit to the White Cube Gallery, I stranded upon the Vitrine Gallery on Bermondsey Square where an installation took place of Clare Kenny called ‘Enough rope to hang ‘emselves’. Sounds pretty lugubrious, but isn’t really. The title refers to Kenny’s grandmother who was a rope maker. Kenny is a Manchester born, Basel-based artistShe works with found materials and neon lights. I like sculptures with neon lights so I would really want to see an exhibition of her with a room full of her work, because this was not so worth visiting. 

ANSELM KIEFER, WALHALLA

White Cube Bermondsey is presenting the work of Anselm Kiefer. This exhibition is titled, ‘Walhalla’ and comprises large-scale installations, sculptures and paintings. Besides paint, Kiefer uses materials such as straw, sand, glass, ash, concrete, rusty iron, clay, and lead. His work is full of references to historical events and figures, philosophy, and scientific theories. War, destruction, decay and destruction are major themes in his work. 

The main hallway of the exhibition was filled with rows of fold-up steel beds draped with dark grey crinkled lead sheets and covers. The lugubrious feeling was to resemble the one of the military sleeping quarters or a battlefield hospital.  

In the paintings he produces, Kiefer uses oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac and lead on canvas. The paintings are enormous and so much is going on. I like the depth that is created by using thick layers of materials, creating gaps, spaces underneath piling of materials and the way buildings start to appear. 

The biggest room in the gallery was filled with vitrines that captured assemblages of soiled bleached clothes, stones, stacked metal beds, trees, a wheel chair and cut-out sections of the earth. They are sealed like fossils or unearthed artefacts entombed in glass. 

I love the way he experiences and the way he uses materials, but his work is a little bit too dark, sombre and morbid for me. 

The exhibition is still at the White Cube Bermondsey till 12 February 2017. 

RICHARD SERRA, ROUNDS: EQUAL WEIGHT, UNEQUAL MEASURE

I always see his work on photograph, and once bumped by accident into one of his works in Berlin, but never saw anything moreSo when I heard there was an exhibition in the Gagosian Gallery in London, I saw my chance to finally behold his art. Richard Serra is one of the most significant artists of his generation. He has produced large-scale, site-specific sculptures for architectural, urban, and landscape settings spanning the globe. 

At the Gagosian Serra presents three large-scale steel sculptures. 

Once I entered the sculpture ‘NJ-2’ it seemed like an endless journey within this beautiful curved steel structure. When I came out I was totally disorientated, especially because it was placed within a ornamentless white room. The use of Cor-Ten Steel is beautiful because of the rust over time and the oxidation process which settles to one colour after a few years.  

The art pieces are so beautiful in their own simplicity. 

LOVE FEAR EXHIBITION

Fear and love brings together eleven diverse design practises from around the world. Each has created an installation exploring an issue that inspires both anxiety and optimism. The exhibition presents a spectrum of attitudes to design and how it affects our lives.  

Fear and love steps beyond the traditional certainties of design, in which ‘form follows function’ and problems are ‘solved’. It suggests that there are no simple answers – that design is both part of the problem and part of the solution. For design to steer us through this century, it must be aware of its role in a complex world. This is new ground for the Design Museum, as it sets out to challenge perceptions of what design is and how it is presented.” – Fear and Love, Reactions to a Complex World. 

One of the displays that I liked was The Earth from Ma Ke Ma Ke was the most successful fashion designer in China. Ten years ago, she decided to stop producing commercial clothing. Nowadays she focusses on the traditional ways of making clothing. In her collection, The Earth, she presents nine sets from the Wuyong collection laid on a bed of soil. The installation represents a world in which we possess less that means more.  

Another display that draw my attention was The Pan-European Living Room from OMA/AMO.  
“In June 2016, the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. At that moment, OMA/AMO rethought its plans for this exhibition to make a statement in support of Europe. The Pan-European Living Room proposes that our idea of the domestic interior has been shaped by European cooperation – between designers and manufacturers, and between trading nations. The average living room in Europe, the practice argues, is a product of that collaborative spirit. This room is furnished with pieces from each of the 28 member states.” 
It was a nice game to guess the designer and the country from each piece. 

The most beautiful display was the one from Christien Meindertsma, called Fibre Market.  
“Most of the clothes you throw away will end up in an incinerator or as landfill, while the ones that are recycled will be turned into materials of low value, such as carpet liner or movers’ blankets. One of the reasons why it is so difficult to recycle clothes is because there has been no easy way to sort them by fabric and colour. Christien Meindertsma has been working with the first generation of machines that can do that.  
Meindertsma began this installation with 1,000 woollen jumpers that had been thrown in recycling bins. She worked with two textile companies to machine-sort the jumpers by fabric and colour, demonstrating that the fibres could retain their value. Behind the fibre piles is a selection of material samples from jumpers with the original labels attached. In the sorting process, Meindertsma discovered that many of the labels were inaccurate, suggesting that consumers are often misled about what they are buying. Fibre Market is both a critique of are disposable, fast-fashion consumption habits and a proposal for a more sustainable future. 

This exhibition is really worth visiting and is still running till 23 April 2017. 

THE (NEW) DESIGN MUSEUM

In 2010 the Pawson office won the competition to oversee the transformation of the former Commonwealth Institute in London into a new permanent home for the Design Museum. The Grade 2* listed building, with its signature hyperbolic paraboloid roof structure, was designed by Robert Matthews, Johnson-Marshall & Partners and originally opened to the public in 1962. Driving the process of reclaiming this iconic example of post-war British Modernism as a contemporary cultural space has been the wish to preserve and enhance its inherent architectural qualities for future generations of Londoners and visitors to the city. The aim is a building that feels as though it has retuned itself, enabling people to experience what is already there in fresh ways. The new Design Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time on November 25th. 

The architectural process is driven by spatial and structural thinking, but it is also profoundly shaped by ideas of use. From the very beginning, the imagined epilogue of colonisation is playing out in the mind of all those involved. Lines are drawn and details developed, but all the time, it is the scope for human narrative that is being created.” - http://johnpawson.com 

I wasn’t blown away by the design, I liked it but found it not extremely impressive. I liked the simplicity, and the vertical and horizontal lines that continue throughout the building. I like the openness and the relationship with the beautiful roof structure. Spatially the design museum works although there could have been a bit more walking space on the stairs from the ground floor to the first floor where people can have a seat. Another thing that I liked is the use of materials and the use of light which created beautiful lines 

In the end, altogether, it is a nice play of volume, surface and light. Pure in its own simplicity. 

DUTCH DESIGN WEEK

Every year in October, in Eindhoven, the nine-day Dutch Design Week (DDW) takes placeIt’s the largest design event in Northern Europe than presents works and concepts from over 2,500 designers spread over a hundred locations throughout the city. The whole city is crowded and alive. Shuttle cars with designs on top are driving people around the city from exhibition to exhibition. DDW distinguishes itself from other design events by focusing on designs for the future. It’s all about experimentation and innovation. Although big brands are presenting their work, the biggest attention goes to the new talent and especially to the show of the Design Academy of Eindhoven.  

This year I just went for one afternoon so I couldn’t see a lot. Of course I visited the Design Academy which was inspirational as always, but I also visited Maarten Baas makes time’, which was an interdisciplinary exhibition exploring the theme time. Two art works that I couldn’t forget, because they were so astonishing in their own purity, were Minuted and ‘Fleeting’ by Gijs Van Bon (http://www.gijsvanbon.nl/) 

'Minuted' writes poems on sand very slowly, with sand moved on a small belt. At the end of the belt the sand falls on to a pile.  The materialising of thought, time and poetry.” 

Fleeting" briefly creates cultural order and then lets it go into natural chaos. With an inkjet cartridge, a single line of text is written on the surface of wet white latex paint on a rotating tray at slow speed. A pivoting stick disturbs the text and fluidities the words into flowerlike forms and stretches reality.”  

The funniest exhibition I went too was ‘For Play, Shaping Sexuality’, where 30 designers explored the contemporary culture of eroticism, gratification, lust and desire. There was even an SM-Rietveld-chair designed by Bastiaan Buijs. 

It was a pity I couldn’t visit more, but hopefully next year I will have more time to spend a few days in Eindhoven. 

ÄNDRA BY SAM GOYVAERTS

Our lives are getting more and more mobile every day. We're all moving, job hopping, taking career breaks. Even our jobs and hours are getting more flexible. Does this unique flexibility have any impact on modern design? It does, according to Sam Goyvaerts. That's why he designed a modular and simple system of three modules named after the Swedish verb 'to change': Ändra. The system makes it possible that furniture can grow with and adapt to peoples needs. If the user wants to share his seat, he can adapt the chair to his new lifestyle: the loveseat. If it's true love, you can expand the seat even more to welcome the new member(s) of the family. In the future new parallel products (or parasite objects) will be created that can be added to the chair, loveseat, sofa, etc. (such as a flower pot that can be hanged in the frame, a small table top for drinks or laptop, ...) also the quote of Charles Eames is one that fits perfectly with the project and my take on design. "Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose" 

BIENNALE INTERIEUR KORTRIJK

The Biennale Interieur is a design fair based in Kortrijk Belgium. It takes place every two years and I never miss it. Two years ago, I was selected to present a table I designed there.

Normally the fair takes place in a large exhibition hall, while the city centre welcomes work by young designers and events organised by big names. This year the concept behind the fair was a bit different. Almost everything was located inside the main exhibition hall. The fair was kept a lot smaller than previous editions. I visited it in approximately 3 hours.

The young designers were placed in one hall had a hall called ‘The stage is yours’. I know a lot of the people there because they graduated from the Thomas More school where I did my bachelor. Of course the well-known names and designer companies are interesting, but I really enjoy looking at all this young talent. Being a young designer myself it’s always nice to see how people of the same age think and work. We are the future ;). I noticed that marble and copper are still trendy materials. The red marble Hullebosch presented was absolutely stunning.

The curatorial programme of Interieur was put together by OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen together with Richard Venlet and Joris Kritis. Together they created ‘Silver Lining – Interiors’. It’s an homage to the 25th silver edition of the Biennale Interieur. Installations were spread over the different halls. “The idea is that furniture and objects are not isolated items; they are always part of the organised space.”

The minimalistic and beautiful booth of Allaert Aluminium caught my eye. Allaert is a manufacturer of metal and glass windows, doors and curtain walls. Within the booth, frames with coloured glass were constantly moving, creating different views.

Interieur also organised a competition for bars and restaurants. Terra was one of the five award winners. It's a platform for different kind of mushrooms surrounded by a dining bar, designed by Carolien Passmans, Bram Aerts an Claudio Saccucci of TRANS Architectuur and Stedenbouw in Ghent (Belgium). Despite the fact that I really don’t like mushrooms, I think this concept was very pure and brought together the concept of nature and food in a stunning way.

Overall, I was not as impressed with this edition as with the previous ones, but I definitely don’t regret going.

 

ELEMENTS OF NOW

In London I met Pauline Janssen, a girl from Belgium, Ghent. She recently moved to London and is working at auction house Bonhams. Aside from working there she also started selling vintage jewellery on her Instagram page, 'Pauline's Jewellery Box'.

Pauline started a collective together with Arthur Buerms, called ‘Life of L’. they created a platform for young designers and entrepreneurs to exhibit and show their work. She invited me to come over and have a look at an exhibition Life of L was organising, called ‘Elements of Now’ in Ghent.

I arrived in a beautiful town house in the city centre of Ghent. The floors were beautifully tiled and at the end of the entrance hall I saw a glimpse of an enthralling, elegant spiral staircase.

On the ground floor Pauline presented her vintage jewellery pieces in glass cloches. She gave me a little tour of the building, that completely blew me away: what a beautiful location to have an exhibition!

In the basement there was total darkness with just a sound of wind, water drops and cracks in the background and a spot on a little tree in the middle of the room. The tree was surrounded by scrap aluminium pieces and a rake. It all made for a rather lugubrious atmosphere. The work made me think about the contrast between life and death, but also gave me a claustrophobic feeling. The tree was alive, but in my eyes in danger of choking in the scrap metal. This art installation called ‘4.4’ was made by Elise Guillaume (Artist currently studying a BA at Goldsmiths University) and Joachim Froment (Artist and Designer currently studying MA at the Royal College of Art). It’s called 4.4, because they used 4.4 tons of aluminium waste. An excerpt from the accompanying text: “It suggests new landscapes caused by consumer behaviour. The duality between organic and industrial elements induces an environment of silent chaos.”

After this breathtaking moment I went upstairs to check out the stunning and really cool coats of young designers Alicia Meus and Audrey Joris. They created a brand called ‘AliciaAudrey Collection’. They design cashmere reversible coats for women. Their first collection launched in 2016.

I’m an absolute fan of the simplicity and honest use of materials. The colours are soft and well-matched, while the finish is perfect. They added a reflective material in some of the coats, a nice feature that makes them just that little bit more catchy and interesting.

I’m really happy I went to the exhibition. Pauline did a great job organising this and bringing young designers and entrepeneurs such as herself a step closer to the people. 

RAGNAR KJARTANSSON

After doing the Architecture tour in the Barbican I went to the exhibition of Ragnar Kjartansson. He’s an Icelandic artist who studied at the Academy of Arts in Reykjavik. He makes performance art, video installations and paintings. His art specialises in capturing emotions and movements, but also has a certain irony to it. A lot of repetition and duration is going on in his work.

When entering the exhibition a performance was on. The work ‘Take me here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage’ is performed live every day during 8 hours. A video is being projected onto a wall and randomly placed guitarist in the room plays music and sings while drinking beer and hanging around. Because of the very tall space the sound made beautiful echoes and was very calming in a way. I must say it felt a bit awkward when walking past those musicians and them staring at you and singing, it was almost like getting a personal little concert.

I pretty much loved all of his work, but one that stuck out was The End – Venice, where Ragnar painted the same man—his friend Pall Haukur Bjornsson—every day during the 6 months running up to the Venice Biennial. The amount of paintings and colours was overwhelming and beautiful to look at. The poses the man strikes were sometimes pretty funny and amusing.

Overall I really enjoyed Ragnar Kjartansson’s work. The way he communicates his art is very ironic and amusing.

MONA HATOUM

After seeing a picture of Mona Hatoum’s Hot Spot art work on posters in London, I was really intrigued to go to Tate Modern and find out more about this artist.

Mona Hatoum is a Palestinian born in Beirut in 1952. When the civil war started in Lebanon in 1975 she moved to London. She studied at the Slade school of Art. Her work characterises political statements and underlying reasons in relationship with the individual. She projects these ideas onto large-scale art installations.

The reason why I like her work is probably because she often uses grids and geometrics. In a way her work represents a certain control she obtained.

The installations I really liked were:

-        ‘Hot Spot’, the red neon light world ball, which reflects the world as one big danger  zone.
-        ‘Homebound’, the room that was behind an electric wire, and made these awful sounds when everything started to get electrified. This piece reflects the idea of house arrest.
-        ‘Light Sentence’, a cage in a room with a light bulb moving up and down in the middle of the cage, which created an amazing reflection on the wall. This piece represents the idea of a time in prison. Overall I really appreciated and understood the message Mona Hatoum tried to bring to the people with her art installations.

 

SWITCH HOUSE

Switch House, the new building extension of Tate Modern designed by Herzog & De Meuron, opened its doors in June 2016. It is built on what was previously a storage space for oil called The Tanks. This space is now used for performance art, installations, film and other art that interacts with the visitor. I love the way the architects kept this space almost like it was, with the rough unadorned concrete. A funny consequence of keeping the structure largely intact is that there are little stairs leading to nowhere. The doors to which they used to lead are now filled.

The first thing I noticed when arriving at The Tanks was the monumentally staircase which brings you to the ground level. I love the beautiful natural flow it has. It’s like a grandiose sculpture.

I liked the work ‘Zero To Infinity’ of the British-Pakistani artist Rasheed Araeen. He created a modular installation consisting of one hundred blue square wooden open- framed boxes. The boxes are regularly rearranged. You can see the pictures of the transformations on the wall.

Another work I liked was The Revolving Vane by German artist Charlotte Posenenske. From the outside it looks like a black box with doors. When standing in the box there’s completely darkness with a play of natural light coming in.

I wanted to take the elevator to the highest floor where the view point is, and walk my way down again. However, this was impossible. The elevator never stopped on the ground floor or was totally packed. After waiting for 20 minutes I gave up. By walking up the stairs I had a look at every floor and at every turn of a corner, a beautiful view of the lines and materials of the buildings appeared. On the second, third and fourth floor there are free collection displays, for example the collection of Living Cities. Living Cities is an exhibition where artists display their thoughts about globalisation. Artists from Newcastle, Beirut, Los Angeles, ... explore parallels and differences between cities in which they find themselves.

On the 4th floor there is the Artist Room with Louise Bourgeois’ work exhibited at the moment. I’m a big fan of her work, especially how she achieves to create such a powerful personal feeling in her art. She is an expressionist that reflects difficulties she coped with in her youth in her work. Art is like therapy for her.

When finally arriving at the 10th floor it was definitely worth the climb. The view was beautiful. You can walk around the building so you have a 360° view.

One thing I really don’t understand is that the architects were allowed to build a building with a viewpoint right next to an apartment block. There are signs ‘Please respect the neighbour’s privacy’, but seriously: who wouldn’t take a look inside the apartments? I would be very angry if I was living there. 

ANN CARRINGTON

When going to pick up some things at school this summer I noticed an exhibition of RCA Alumnus Ann Carrington. She graduated in 1987 from a MA in Sculpture. Her work contains multiples of discarded and found objects, like knives and forks, wire, pins, coins, ...

I very much liked the way she connects these pieces and creates a new known form/object with it. The art pieces have a certain elegance, but are still very big and sometimes overwhelming because of the reflective and shiny metals. I would never buy an artwork like this, but it’s definitely an absolute joy to have seen it.

SHOW RCA - GRADUATE EXHIBITION 2016

The annual Royal College of Art graduate shows will took place across the College’s two campuses in Battersea and Kensington. The show 2016 gave an opportunity to experience the very best of emerging contemporary art and design practice from all the RCA's taught MA programs. Over 575 art and design postgraduate students exhibited their work.

RCA Kensington
School of Architecture – Architecture, Interior Design
School of Communication– Animation, Information Experience Design, Visual Communication
School of Design – Design Interactions, Design Products, Global Innovation Design,    Innovation Design Engineering, Service Design, Vehicle Design

RCA Battersea
School of Fine Art – Moving Image, Painting, Performance, Photography, Print, Sculpture
School of Material – Ceramics & Glass, Jewellery & Metal, Textiles
School of Humanities – Critical & Historical Studies, Critical Writing in Art & Design, Curating Contemporary Art, V&A/RCA History of Design

These are some of the projects I love the most. I was in particular amazed by vehicle design and textiles. 

SHOW RCA FASHION 2016

The graduating students from Menswear; Womenswear and Knitwear, with Footwear, Accessories and Millinery from the Royal College of Art showed their work at the Averard Hotel at Lancaster Gate.

It was a moment to observe these young designers’ full collections – destroyed crafts, re-built artisanal tailoring, belief and beauty, colour and light – in detail.