NYC- and European-based textile artist and writer, Abigail Doan, is an advocate for artisan and slow craft methods for both wearable and functional product design.
The recent fifth edition of Sofia Design Week in Bulgaria's capital city marked a milestone for this international festival devoted to design and visual culture from Eastern Europe and beyond. The theme for 2013 was 'The Balkan Date'—a fitting topic for a region brimming with innovative design ideas as well as cultural expressions that are innately complex. Sofia Design Week's curatorial team felt that is was vital for this year's program to encourage creative exchange between Balkan countries, as well as facilitate a more tangible global presence for regional contemporary design.
"When speaking of design on the Balkans, the usual reaction to the topic ranges from embarrassment to bewilderment to a smile. Until recently we were surprised at the growing interest of large-scale design platforms into the region. With its fifth edition, Sofia Design Week counteracts the skepticism and scant availability of information by putting you live in contact with the new wave of Balkan designers. Here and now, Bulgarians, Romanians, Turks, Greeks, Serbs, Kosovars, Slovenians, Albanians, Montenegrins, Croatians, Macedonians, Bosnians and Herzegovians are creating a surprisingly interesting, different and potentially characteristic design. " —Sofia Design Week curators/organizers
Modern living conditions that render the invisible visible takes on new meaning with designer Annelie Berner's AiryLight. This illuminating and interactive project expresses realtime local air quality data through a custom-design lamp's changing light patterns and shadow projections on the ceiling above. Created by Berner as her thesis for New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program, the AiryLight creates soft ambiance indoors, while also consistently informing you about the outdoor environment. The dynamic display of information is meant to be visually informative as well as playfully inviting for viewers and home dwellers to discuss, track, and share what they learn about changes in their day-to-day surroundings.
Iceland, the land of the midnight sun and geological hot spots, will have its own floating stage at the Venice Biennale's 55th International Art Exhibition which officially opens on Saturday, June 1st. Artist Katrín Sigurdardóttir has created Foundation (2013), a site-specific sculptural installation for the Lavenderia/The Old Laundry at the Palazzo Zenobio in Dorsoduro—one of the six sestieri of Venice.
Using authentic crafting techniques handed down through generations, women from rural villages in the oasis of M’hamid El Ghizlane in the Sahara Desert transform cast-off textiles and donated clothing into each "co-designed" Carpet of Life. This unique recycling concept is based on traditional Moroccan carpets called Boucherouite or Boucherwi, typically made by families from nomadic backgrounds. Each piece is totally one-of-a-kind and created intuitively by the artisans in response to donated materials provided by clients for commissioned carpets.
Kinship in design is often viewed as simply a matter of showing relations, both formally and historically, between objects that share color, pattern, and local craft strategies. Totemism, however, often takes a "system of belief" one step further by introducing supernatural connections and avant-garde expressions that blend the folkloric and iconic in stirring ways. In this spirit, we reached out to Li Edelkoort, world-renowned trend forecaster, to describe some of the layered creations in her artfully curated exhibit,'TOTEMISM: Memphis meets Africa' at this past weekend's Design Indaba Expo.
The Memphis movement burst onto the scene in 1981 when its designers made waves at the Milan Furniture Fair with irreverently bold, Pop-style designs that challenged Modernist notions of good taste and functionality. Created as a language that challenged the aesthetic of clean lines, the market appeal of the understated, and the usefulness of design coherence, Memphis rippled out to ceramics, glassware, furniture, interior design, and urban architecture, specifically building facades. The movement embraced the unexpected in design as well as the ubiquitous in life.
The BIO biennial in Ljubljana has been highlighting contemporary trends in international design for close to fifty years now, but not everyone on the global circuit might be aware of the diverse talent that has been showcased since the first exhibition in 1964. Slovenia's Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) is the biennial's host, and with over 437 submissions from 38 countries for 2012, the jurors and curators for BIO 23 had the challenging task of selecting the best examples of innovative design influenced by modern technology, multi-disciplinary methods, and the exploration of natural systems.
Margo Konings and Margriet Vollenberg of Organisation in Design were the joint curators for this year's exhibition theme, Design Relations, which was aimed at comprehensive ideas related to technology, digitalization, globalization, and product design. Folded into these categories were timely topics such as health, machines, and processes; back to craft, counter reaction, data processing, graphics; and proposals linked to industry left-overs, social/local phenomena, the urban environment, and smart solutions. We have highlighted several of the award winners in our gallery slideshow, with specifics about some of the more unusual materials, methods, and conceptual strategies employed.
Mesh and wireframe structures might typically be reserved for the architectural design realm, but Dutch designer Maria Blaisse aims to expand the rules of textiles and flexible materials with her long-standing commitment to movement research. Blaisse's latest exhibition, Moving Meshes, highlights the resilience of bamboo as a medium for expanding and contracting volumes, which are based on improvisational gestures and the body as the critical element in the animation of material and form. Currently on view in the château interiors of Domaine de Boisbuchet, an international center for experimentation in design and architecture, Blaisse's work is a fluid exploration of volume and spatial control—quite modern for the setting of a country estate in the Southwest of France.