1. April 2020
Screenshot from the lecture of John Pawson, © Indaba

A dose of optimism and inspiration: Design Indaba quarantine playlist

Let’s look at the current limitations on social life from a positive viewpoint: we can use the extra time we currently have on our hands to educate and  inform ourselves about design from the comfort of our own home – through podcasts, films and videos. The design conference Design Indaba, which has been held in Cape Town, South Africa for 25 years, has become an important international event. The organisers have created a Quarantine Playlist on YouTube for the community: Your dose of optimism and inspiration is a compilation of presentations from recent years. Among those who show us what they are creating and explain why they are doing it are John Pawson, Stefan Diez, Wini Maas, Sissel Tolaas, Bjarke Ingels, Paula Scher, Christoph Niemann, John Maeda, Studio Formafantasma, Naoto Fukasawa, Asif Khan, Snøhetta and Francis Keré, and more.

1. April 2020
Screenshot from the trailer of California by Design, © Fox 2

California by Design. A documentary

California is seen as a hub for creative development and successful innovation, and not just within the United States. From Charles and Ray Eames to Yves Béhar, with his “studio fuseproject”, through to Jonathan Ive and Apple, many successful, internationally renowned designers and design-driven companies have been based in the West Coast state, or currently have their headquarters there. What is the secret behind “Designs from California”? What projects are currently being pursued there? The documentary California by Design explores the phenomenon of design and its commercial function. Together with the Industrial Designers Society of America, IDSA, an episodic format has been developed which showcases the people and companies behind the 33 most important innovations in and around design. The spectrum ranges from lifestyle products to service offerings, through to solutions in the medical technology field. The series launches on 4 April, on the TV channel FOX 2.

1. April 2020
Sponsored News

Light in products: functional – aesthetic – emotional

Light provides orientation, creates atmosphere, offers comfort and makes a good highlight. It makes intuitive operation easier, facilitates communication and shapes identity. In a world of increasingly complex, multifunctional products, light aids the development of solutions that are more useful, beautiful and customisable. Light adds value functionally and gives products an emotional dimension.

What is especially remarkable is the combination of the more practical aspects of usage with the aspects of emotion and special aesthetics that light gives to a product. One excellent example of this is the Grohe Blue Home tap. The feedback it provides through coloured light makes it easy and intuitive to operate its integrated water carbonation function. This solution simultaneously allows for a sleek, modern design that characterises the tap’s aesthetics, even though it also possesses an array of functions. You can find more examples of innovative use of light in product design as well as current trade show dates and much more information on this subject at MENTOR.

1. April 2020
The Expotizer to the exhibition, © Museum für Kommunikation, Photo: Sven Moschitz

Life & Learning X.0. A podcast on digitalisation

The exhibition entitled #neuland. I, We, and Digitalisation was supposed to have opened at the Museum for Communication in Frankfurt am Main on 23 March. This did not happen, for obvious reasons. Since the monumental issue of digitalisation concerns us all, and we still have many questions about it, the museum has instead decided to present the explanatory podcast “Leben X.0” (Life X.0) as part of its dialogue project “Leben & Lernen X.0” (Living and Learning X.0). Individual episodes ask such fundamental questions as: what is digital transformation? What is media literacy? What are algorithms? And what is machine learning?

1. April 2020
© 2020

Carsten Hendrich takes over brand strategy, marketing and communications for the KaDeWe Group

The KaDeWe Group includes the KaDeWe store in Berlin (short for “Kaufhaus des Westens”, the Department Store of the West), the Alsterhaus store in Hamburg and the Oberpollinger store in Munich. Carsten Hendrich is now responsible for brand strategy, marketing and communication for the entire group of companies. Hendrich, whose predecessor, Petra Fladenhofer, left the company by her own choice to pursue new challenges elsewhere, hails from Richemont’s subsidiary, “Lange Uhren”, where he has been the Chief Marketing Officer since April 2019. Many know him from his time at Zalando where he was Chief of Marketing for a number of years, and where most recently, in the role of Vice President, he was responsible for the online retailer’s Creative Lab initiative; this caused a stir thanks to collaborations with designers, as well as customer events such as Bread & Butter. Before joining Zalando, Hendrich was responsible for brand management and communication at Bogner and has also held the position of Brand and Marketing Director at Breuninger. In this new role, he will be drawing on his experience and expert knowledge to prepare these retail stores for the future. The KaDeWe Group is also planning to open new retail outlets in Vienna and Düsseldorf, as well as an online store in 2021.

25. March 2020
Design and the Elastic Mind, 2008, © Museum of Modern Art

Time for (design) discoveries: the MoMA exhibition archive

The current epidemic calls on us to live as secluded a life as possible. This situation means the online presence of international museums is booming, offering a welcome opportunity to explore both contemporary and historical aspects of art, design and cultural history – without having to leave the safety of our homes. So we would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to a selection of what’s on offer. While these resources are not new, they are compelling, for the design world in particular: digital archives which are fascinating to browse and hold the key to some very unexpected discoveries. For some years now, the Exhibition history digital collection from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York has not only been preserving documents from previous exhibitions, but also making them freely available in digital form to anyone interested. Photographs of works from exhibitions that have been shown ever since the museum was founded in 1929, as well as their presentation, together with press releases, long out-of-print catalogues, audio or video formats and exhibition websites are waiting to be discovered. The many exhibitions include some that are iconic in the design world. For example, the “Good Design” programme from the 1950s and the “Italy: the New Domestic Landscape” exhibition from 1972 – still considered legendary to this day – and “SAFE: Design Takes On Risk” from 2005/2006 or the “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibition, whose interactive website – which is still available – attracted attention as far back as 2008.

25. March 2020
© KAHLA/Thüringen

Kahla/Thüringen Porzellan: the good news and the bad

Kahla/Thuringia porcelain is one of only a few examples of a company which became a model for success following the German reunification. The person responsible for this is Günther Raithel, who took over the company in 1994 and transformed it into one of the most innovative porcelain brands. From the outset, he saw design as a central factor in his concept, working together with designer Barbara Schmidt, who redefined dining and table culture with her designs and concepts. Tableware International Magazine has now given Günther Raithel their Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of this. Just a short while later, it was revealed that Kahla/Thüringen Porzellan GmbH, which has been managed by Holger Raithel since 2005, had to file for insolvency. The porcelain industry in Germany has been battling for survival for many years now. The failure of a major project is now said to be responsible for Kahla’s precarious position. The company will restructure under its own management. Its order books look healthy, and managing partner Holger Raithel believes the company is well placed to face this challenge. Its goal is to be able to keep all 250 employees.

25. March 2020
Debbie Millman, Photo: John Madere, © Helsinki Design Week

Why does design talk matter? A conversation with Debbie Millman

It started off as a radio show, whose episodes were also the first ever podcasts dedicated to design: “Design Matters” has been online since 2005, featuring fascinating people discussing relevant topics, and continues to be hugely popular today. Journalist, curator and designer Debbie Millman, who started up the show and continues to run it, now features in a podcast herself: In Why does design talk matter? Helsinki Design Weekly asks Debbie Millman about the secret of good conversation, her favourite guest, the influence of brands on our everyday lives, and much more – and above all, why it is so important to talk about design.

25. March 2020
Aaron Betsky, Foto Roderick La Foy, © Virginia Tech.

Aaron Betsky appointed Director of the Virginia Tech School of Architecture and Design

The name Aaron Betsky will be familiar to readers of international specialist publications. Since completing his studies in architecture and humanities, he has been active as an author, critic and curator in the fields of architecture, design and art in Europe and the USA – as a museum director, institute director and through a range of in-depth publications. Aaron Betsky has now been appointed director of the Virginia Tech School of Architecture and Design in Blacksburg, Virginia. He will take up his post on 1 June 2020. Betsky previously headed the School of Architecture at Taliesin, a school of architecture founded by Frank Lloyd, which sadly hit the headlines in recent weeks when it had to be closed.

19. March 2020
Philppe Parreno, My Room is Another Fishbowl, 2016. Courtesy Pilar Corrias, London, © Art Basel

Art fair goes digital. Art Basel introduces online viewing rooms

Since the coronavirus began to massively restrict public life, with cultural institutions remaining closed until further notice, art fairs such as Art Cologne being postponed, and Art Basel Hong Kong being cancelled, there has been rapidly growing demand for novel digital information formats. Art Basel, which is supposed to take place from 18 to 21 June 2020, has not yet been cancelled.  Come what may with the corona crisis, the global trade fair for the most important international art market will be introducing online viewing rooms on 20 March, ahead of the event. According to spokespeople for the art fair, virtual space in the publicly accessible online exhibition is still very much uncharted territory for many of the 231 participating galleries. Each gallery will need to develop a fresh curatorial concept for its virtual appearance, the main advantage being that in virtual space, there are simply not the restrictions of the traditional white cube. The temporary virtual museum features a range of works, from superb paintings through to monumental outdoor sculptures.

18. March 2020
Kinetic Pictogramms, © Tokio 2020

Olympic Games Tokyo. Kinetic pictograms

Corporate design not only conveys the spirit of a company or an event, – the design itself also reveals technical and aesthetic preferences that are influenced by the “zeitgeist”. This applies to the visual design and pictograms of the individual sports that make up the Olympic and Paralympic Games. As these form a part of our visual communication history, we can easily recognise the current changes that they convey. In our era of digital communication, which is no longer entirely new, the organising committee of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is presenting kinetic pictograms for the first time in the history of the sporting event. The 73 pictograms were created by Japanese designer Masaaki Hiromura, and animated by motion designer, Kota Iguchi. The kinetic pictograms are presented against a white background, as fragments, depicting a short sequence of movements which are typical for a particular sport. Static pictograms were first introduced at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. With the Paralympic Games, they made their initial appearance at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona.

18. March 2020
Screenshot of the project “Elements of AI” © Reactor and University of Helsinki

Artificial intelligence. A free online course offered by the DIHK

We come across artificial intelligence every day in many different forms – whether as a recommendation on a mobile phone, or through the interactive Alexa. But what influence does it actually have on our lives? How is AI created in the first place? What can it do, and what can it not do? And how will it develop in the coming years? The Finnish management consultancy Reaktor, together with the University of Helsinki, has developed an online course called “The Elements of AI”. The aim is to teach people about AI in a structured step-by-step manner, to allay fears and to help people make use of AI. Since 2019, the German-Finnish Chamber of Commerce (AHK Finland) together with the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK e.V.) has made this course available in Germany as well. It combines theoretical knowledge with practical exercises and visual diagrams, and is very user-friendly in its overall design. Six modules cover different aspects of the topic – from the definition of artificial intelligence and problem solving through to real applications and types of machine learning. Participants determine their own learning pace – they can choose to follow the six-week plan, or to work through the modules in their own time. More than 350,000 people from 170 countries have already registered for the course, which proves how relevant this topic is to us today.

18. March 2020
Sponsored News

Joseph Binder Award 2020 – Call for entries

designaustria once again invites you to take part in the international Joseph Binder Award (JBA20) for graphic design and illustration. Designers, illustrators and agencies, along with students from all over the world, are invited to submit work that they have produced since 2018 – the deadlines for submissions is 17 April 2020. Click here to find out all about JBA20 and register online.

18. March 2020
Bazon Brock, photo © Verena Berg

Access secured. Designers and academics hand over documents, and the Smithsonian Institute opens an image database

Resources which in the past were either forgotten about or quietly taken care of behind closed doors have now become part of a phenomenon: members of the public are being told about and given access to the archives of influential designers, artists and academics. It has just been announced that Enzo Maris will be handing over his archives, containing about 1,500 objects as well as many technical drawings, documents, photographs and books, to the City of Milan, whose aim is to capture and examine this material, and make it accessible to the public. Born in 1932, Maris is one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. The archive of Austrian fashion designer Helmut Lang archive has been housed for some years now by the Vienna Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), which provides access to the archival material for research purposes. Lang, who has been focusing exclusively on his artistic endeavours since 2005, is currently showing his exhibition Helmut Lang Archiv at the MAK. An intervention by Helmut Lang. Although not a designer himself, Bazon Brock is a lateral thinker with foresight who has made an important intellectual contribution to the design profession. Bazon Brock. The thinker, artist, art educator and art critic, born in 1936, has donated his future estate to the documenta archive in Kassel. The preservation of Brock’s diverse works has been secured through a donation from the publisher Dr. Hubert Burda, which is financing the indexing work.

Another milestone in the current phase of digitalisation and accessibility of historical materials is the news that the Smithsonian Institute in the USA is now granting access to a bundle of 2.8 million images, downloadable free of charge for the purposes of independent research – including many images from areas that are relevant to design.

13. March 2020
Stankowski + Duschek Graphic Design Studio, Messe Frankfurt trademark, from: Handbuch 2: Das Orientierungssystem (Manual 2: The Orientation System), 1982/83, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Berlin State Museums), Kunstbibliothek, © Meike Gatermann and The Stankowski Foundation / Photo: Dietmar Katz

Stankowski + Duschek Studio. An exhibition in Berlin

Brand development, corporate identity, advertising and infographics – all this was part of Stankowski + Duschek’s core business for five decades. Only a very few graphic design firms were able to shape the visual appearance of companies and institutions in Germany in this way during the latter half of the 20th century. Not only did the dynamic “slash in the square” become known the world over as Deutsche Bank’s trademark, the studio in Stuttgart also gave birth to logos and complete image makeovers for SEL, the Deutscher Werkbund, the German Design Council, Viessmann, Messe Frankfurt, the Deutsche Börse and many more. As Stankowski put it in 1978, “Signs are visual telegrams, similar to flags.” Not only did Anton Stankowski (1906 to 1998) and Karl Duschek (1947 to 2011) share a sophisticated constructive aesthetic of sign systems, they were also both inspired by Concrete Art. With the exhibition Brands:Trademarks. The Stankowski + Duschek Graphic Design Studio, the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin gives us an insight into Stankowski’s own original firm, as well as the development of the joint studio. It shows the working methods of a communication designer before computers – in the form of sketches, executed designs, printed materials and much more. The exhibition will run from 13 March to 28 June 2020. It will also be documented in a newly released book.

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