March 29, 2013 6:05 pm

Best in show

From Beijing to New York, leading critics and designers pick their highlights of 2013
Pastoe's bookcase, 1964©Jan Versnel, Maria Austria Instituut

Setting Pastoe's bookcase, 1964 – products by the design label are being exhibited at the Kunsthal Rotterdam until June

Gareth Harris, design critic

‘Like Pastoe: 100 Years of Design Innovation’, Rotterdam, until June 2

The Dutch furniture brand Pastoe has endured for a century because its ethos is strikingly simple: good design should never be intrusive. It’s hard to remain unmoved by the clean lines of the SM05 wire chair, produced in 1958 by the company’s head of design, Cees Braakman. This understated sculptural object stands out in an important exhibition devoted to the trailblazing Utrecht-based design label at the Kunsthal Rotterdam. I’m especially impressed by the products made in conjunction with key designers such as Claudio Silvestrin and Konstantin Grcic, whose beautifully-finished “Clouds” cabinets are a highlight. Crucially, these pieces show that for Pastoe, reinvention is just as important as tradition.

www.kunsthal.nl

. . .

Emily King, design critic and curator

‘Martino Gamper’, The Modern Institute, Glasgow, from November 8 2013-November 8 2014

The work of product designer Martino Gamper is always both striking and funny. I am proud to say that he designed the installation of an exhibition that I curated just over a decade ago and I have followed his progress avidly ever since. His collection of 100 chairs, each made in a single day from an assemblage of found materials, is a tour de force. The pieces for his one-man show at The Modern Institute are still in development, but Gamper promises a mix of found and new furniture arranged into “still lives and situations”.

www.themoderninstitute.com

. . .

Mika Aoki's glass installation 'Her Songs Are Floating'©Kozaburo Sakamoto

Mika Aoki's glass installation 'Her Songs Are Floating'

Edwin Heathcote, architecture critic

‘Collect: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects’, Saatchi Gallery, London, May 10-13

Sitting intriguingly between the worlds of art and design, the Collect fair manages to confer the glamour of art and the applied intelligence of design without using the rather difficult word “craft”. It is a serious and handsome fair at which some of the world’s best galleries in this loosely-defined field show their stuff. A project space will feature the work of the Brazilian-born, London-based designer Paulo Goldstein, whose work explores repair and craft, Japanese artist Mika Aoki’s exquisite glass sculptures and British artist Laura Ellen Bacon’s enigmatically woven, seemingly parasitic forms.

www.craftscouncil.org.uk

. . .

Ken Shuttleworth, architect

‘London Festival of Architecture’, June 23-July 8

The nature of this citywide festival encourages architects and designers in local areas within London to collaborate. The festival also makes architecture more accessible, with designers opening their studios to the public and getting them involved in their work.

www.lfa2012.org

. . .

Chrystina Schmidt, creative director of Skandium

‘Rock on Top of Another Rock’, London, until March 2014

This outdoor sculpture in Kensington Gardens is by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss. I have only recently come across their work and admire their trust in the simplicity of the design, without adding any flirtatious adornments. With design, I always think that quality is more important than style.

www.serpentinegallery.org

. . .

'High Tea Pot'©Studio Wieki Somers

'High Tea Pot'

Caroline Roux, design critic

‘Wieki Somers’, Galerie Kreo, Paris, from May 15-July

There’s often a surreal element to Dutch designer Wieki Somers’ work – a bath in the shape of a boat; a teapot made from a skull and fur – but it’s always perfectly conceived and executed. Her new pieces that will go on show at Galerie Kreo are inspired by samurai culture, though Somers has translated her research sideways into a series of what she calls “light poles” – lamps combining high-technology and homespun crafts.

www.galeriekreo.com

. . .

Wieki Somers' 'Hogweed table'©Fabrice Gousset

Wieki Somers' 'Hogweed table'

Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum

‘RCA Graduate Design Show’, London, June 20-30

The Royal College of Art is a great place to find young talent and it’s also a window on to emerging design hubs – some of the best students are now coming from Korea. At the Design Museum we are always looking to nurture talent – a couple of years ago, for example, Min-Kyu Choi’s folding plug went from the graduate show to win the Design of the Year Award, and then on to become a commercially available product.

www.rca.ac.uk

. . .

The Campana brothers' 'Banquete chair' (2002)

The Campana brothers' 'Banquete chair' (2002)

Paul Cocksedge, designer

‘Campana Brothers’, Friedman Benda Gallery, New York, June 5-July 3

This colourful and experimental exhibition from the great Brazilian designers shows them pushing the fine line between art and design. It’s fascinating seeing their work exhibited in an art gallery, displayed without the constraints imposed by mass production. I particularly like their armchair made from cuddly toys – it breaks design rules by delighting rather than shocking.

www.friedmanbenda.com

. . .

Roksanda Ilincic, fashion designer

‘Josef Albers: Spirituality and Rigor’, Perugia, until June 19, moving to Milan in July

This exhibition of Albers’ work at Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, timed to coincide with the 125th anniversary of his birth, features some of the German-American painter’s early architectural drawings and stained-glass designs, many of which have rarely been seen before. I’m also looking forward to the new edition of his book, The Interaction of Color, which comes out later this year. My spring/summer 2013 collection was influenced by his colour palettes and I keep finding new themes and mediums in which he worked that inspire me.

www.gallerianazionaleumbria.it

. . .

Ab Rogers, designer

‘Beijing Design Week’, September 29-October 14

“Made in China” still conjures images of cheap, mass-produced and low-quality products, but you wouldn’t know it at Beijing Design Week. In fact, since Aric Chen curated Beijing’s first design festival in 2011, the city has become the new design capital of the world with its coexistence of old and new, order and anarchy. Last year, the Brazilian Campana brothers were the festival’s guests of honour but local designers such as Li Naihan and Zhili Liu had an equally strong presence.

www.bjdw.org

. . .

Kenneth Grange, product designer

‘Copenhagen Design Fair’, September 12-15

Scandinavian television manages to convince a large number of people that design, however modestly, can improve our lives. I’m a big fan of their thrillers, particularly Wallander: at last, solitarily, everyday life was colourful and unashamedly modern, a world away from the dreary aesthetic put forward by British soaps such as Coronation Street and EastEnders. In Britain, our visual palette is relentlessly crass and vulgar and dependent on tasteless romanticism. Which is why the show I am most looking forward to this year is taking place not at home but abroad, in Denmark.

www.dnanordic.dk

. . .

Ilse Crawford, interior designer

‘Design Academy Eindhoven Graduate Show’, October 19-27

If you are interested in looking at how a generation of twenty-somethings see the world, the Design Academy Eindhoven annual graduate show is unmissable. Previous highlights have included Massoud Hassani’s tumbleweed-like device that uses wind gusts to roam through land mine-filled areas and detonate hidden mines as it goes (since bought by the Museum of Modern Art, New York) to Mickael Boulay’s beautiful cutlery for the disabled.

www.designacademy.nl

. . .

Jan Dalley, FT arts editor

‘Collective Design Fair’, New York, May 8-11

Fair-splosion continues apace but I am genuinely excited to see what the inaugural Collective Design Fair will serve up. Its director Steven Learner apparently spotted the lack, even in this most visually savvy of cities, of a showcase for “pioneers of studio design and production as well as ... historic material that has shaped the current conversation around design”.

www.collectivedesignfair.com

. . .

Eero Aarnio Ball's 'Globe chair'©Taschen

Eero Aarnio Ball's 'Globe chair' features in the book 'Scandinavian Design'

Peter Jensen, fashion designer

‘Scandinavian Design’ by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, published by Taschen on April 20

I’m slightly obsessed with the Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen, who features in the republication of Scandinavian Design, a guide to the various aspects of design for which the Scandinavians are so famous. Jacobsen was the inspiration for my latest collection (pre-fall 2013): the lab coat is based on one that Jacobsen would wear when he was designing; the colour palette matches those of his swan chair; and the polka dot pattern comes from a design of a patio he did for a Danish housing estate in the 1950s.

www.taschen.com

. . .

Martino Gamper, designer

‘EP Vol. 1. The Italian Avant-Garde: 1968–1976’ (Sternberg Press), edited by Alex Coles and Catharine Rossi, book launch at the ICA, London, May 31

From 1968-1976, Italian design was at its most radical, creative and vibrant, powered by a generation of young entrepreneurs and designers (quite revolutionary for a time dominated by architects). This book gives a new insider’s view of the period by pairing interviews with radical designers and artists of the time – collective groups such as Arte Povera and Archizoom, and pivotal figures such as Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini – with contemporary designers.

www.sternberg-press.com

. . .

Nike trainers

Faye Toogood, furniture designer

‘Designs of the Year 2013’, Design Museum, London, until July 7

It’s exciting to see such a wide scope of design from the past year exhibited all together. Where else can you see Nike trainers displayed next to a Mando Footloose chainless bicycle? Or Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s collection for Louis Vuitton next to Marni’s “100 Chairs”?

designmuseum.org

. . .

Alice Rawsthorn, design critic

KLM airline cabins, June

One of the most exciting industrial design projects of the year will be Hella Jongerius’s new business class cabins for KLM airlines. The Dutch designer has had a huge influence on design by applying the conceptual approach she developed in her early work to the mass-manufactured products she makes today. Her interiors for KLM are deeply radical when you consider that aerospace design is intensely regulated and rather dull.

. . .

Angus Hyland, Graphic designer and partner at Pentgram

‘Clerkenwell Design Week’, London, May 21-23

As an Islington resident, I’m particularly partial to Clerkenwell Design Week. Now in its fourth year, it brings together work from across different disciplines in the capital. It’s independent spirit and intimate setting gives it a different feel to other trade fairs.

www.clerkenwelldesignweek.com

. . .

Eva Jiricna, Architect

‘London Design Festival’, September 14-22

This festival showcases the work of young designers in venues dotted across the city. Each city has a different way of looking at design and a very particular identity. London has a great sense of freedom, a desire to stretch the limits of design in a way that you don’t see in cities like Paris or Milan. I have mentored many students and it is fascinating to see the huge amount of energy and skill on display at the festival. Each year is totally different, with designers embracing different techniques, different modes of presentation and different ways of using models. It’s interesting how easy it is to identify a year in design from the way ideas take hold.

www.londondesignfestival.com

. . .

Marcel Wanders, Designer

‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gautier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’, Kunsthal Rotterdam, until May 12

This survey of Jean Paul Gautier’s work is fantastic. It demonstrates the logic behind his work and exhibits it beautifully. His collections are so dramatic and versatile, and I really admire his energy. It’s wonderful to recognise the designer behind the work – that personal experience of art is very important to me.

www.kunsthal.nl

. . .

Marcus Fairs, Dezeen editor

‘Afrofuture’, Milan Furniture Fair, April 9-14

Africa is really the forgotten continent when it comes to design, but in recent years there’s been a broad recognition that it could really leapfrog the west. By harnessing emerging technologies – the open-source movement and mobile phone-based entrepreneurship – there’s a real sense that the design movement could unleash a wave of creativity across the continent. From South Africa’s FabLabs to Kenya’s “Silicon Savannah,” the shift in technology enables local communities to claim Africa for themselves, overcoming the western idea of their craft-based culture, and opening the way for a new design sensibility. The exhibition’s curator, Beatrice Galilee, put on one of the most talked-about design shows last year, “Hacked Milan,” so there’s a good chance this will again become the defining show this year. In the past few years, we’ve moved on from the idea of the designer as superhero – it’s no longer about a perfect design on a plinth – but about embracing a more explorative, communal idea of design as performance. But with everyone else talking about China, India, Brazil, it’s certainly a brave curatorial stance to back Africa as the next design superpower.

www.cosmit.it

Related Topics

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

Life & Arts on Twitter

More FT Twitter accounts
 
SHARE THIS QUOTE