Archifutures Volume 4: Thresholds

A field guide to navigating the future of architecture

How can you navigate towards something when there are no fixed points, when you cannot determine your position? How do you know where to go, or even know when you have got there? This fourth volume in the Archifutures series investigates how architecture, traditionally considered to be a future oriented activity, can best respond as we find ourselves on…

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How can you navigate towards something when there are no fixed points, when you cannot determine your position? How do you know where to go, or even know when you have got there? This fourth volume in the Archifutures series investigates how architecture, traditionally considered to be a future oriented activity, can best respond as we find ourselves on the threshold of a “post-futurist” condition where the future is not necessarily ahead of us, but everywhere and – perhaps most especially – “now”.

Contributors: Nora Akawi, Florian Bengert, Filipe Estrela, Mariabruna Fabrizi, Nikita Gyawali, Ana Jeinić, Holly Lewis, Fosco Lucarelli, Brett Moore, Sara Neves, Paolo Patelli, Pedro Pitarch, Blanca Pujals, Benedikt Stoll, James Taylor-Foster, John Thackara and Andreas Töpfer, José Tomás Pérez Valle, Marta Fernández Cortés, Arquitectura Subalterna, Ilirjana Haxhiaj, Jeta Bejtullahu, Oliver Goodhall, Fiona Shipwright, and Janar Siniloo.

Date: Autumn 2017

Publishers: dpr-barcelona

Editors: Sophie Lovell & Fiona Shipwright, &beyond

Graphic design: Diana Portela, &beyond

Additional illustrations: Janar Siniloo, &beyond

 

About Archifutures

Archifutures is the publishing project accompanying and expanding upon the Future Architecture platform, a Europe-wide network and EU-funded initiative set up by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana. It features projects and initiatives from young practices supported by the network as well as contributions from more established voices that are helping to shape the architecture, cities and societies of tomorrow.

The ongoing Archifutures series is a truly European collaboration: originally conceived, edited and designed by the publishing collective &beyond, it has now evolved into a pioneering digital and print project masterminded by dpr-barcelona, publishers and Future Architecture platform members. It merges the possibilities of critical editorial work, innovative printing and active user intervention allowing readers to select texts from the series online, according to individual interest, and order their own custom compilations.

archifutures.org

 

The Standards of Design

An interview with Rolf Hay for "Full House Diez Office"

Delighted to be a contributor to designer Stephan Diez’s wonderful new retrospective book and exhibition “Full House Diez Office” designed by Mirko Borsche and edited by Petra Hesse and Sandra Hofmeister. In it I discuss democratic” design, “good” design and the manufacturer’s perspective in the context of Stefan’s work with Rolf Hay of HAY.

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Delighted to be a contributor to designer Stephan Diez’s wonderful new retrospective book and exhibition “Full House Diez Office” designed by Mirko Borsche and edited by Petra Hesse and Sandra Hofmeister. In it I discuss democratic” design, “good” design and the manufacturer’s perspective in the context of Stefan’s work with Rolf Hay of HAY.

Berlin in Fifty Design Icons

by Sophie Lovell

“Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Berlin is that it is a major European capital that is still defining itself. Berlin’s modern history has been so often interrupted in such radical ways that the city remains in a continual state of transformation: always becoming, never quite being – not yet, anyway.”

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Berlin in Fifty Designs Icons, written by Sophie Lovell and &beyond editors Florian Heilmeyer, George Kafka, Fiona Shipwright and Rob Wilson of &beyond, with Sebastian Schumacher, is the latest addition to the prestigious Design Museum Fifty series, presenting designs that have shaped Berlin.

Berlin’s turbulent history has led to a wealth of innovative, evocative design: from the provocative graphic identity of the Volksbühne to the Pop-Art-meets-Brutalism of the Bierpinsel; from the ingenuity of the Berlin Durchsteckschlüssel (courtyard key) to the DIY ethos underpinning the car park-rooftop-bar Klunkerkranich. Some of the city’s most monumental architecture left behind by successive regimes also make an appearance, such the 1936 Olympic Stadium and East Germany’s urban planning showpiece, Karl-Marx-Allee, alongside more contemporary examples such as John Hedjuk’s Kreuzberg Tower and the rapidly transforming Potsdamer Straße.

When viewed together, these fifty icons form an intricate visual history of this unique city. One part visual documentation, one part city guide, and illustrated with photography selected by the Design Museum, Berlin in Fifty Design Icons unlocks the design stories of one of the most complex, intriguing cities in the world.

Published by Conran Octopus

Archifutures Volume 3: The Site

A field guide to making the future of archtecture

Conceived, edited and designed by &beyond. The third volume in a new book series bringing together projects and initiatives, both real and speculative, that are shaping tomorrow’s architecture and cities – and thus our societies of the future.

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Archifutures is a new field guide to the future of architecture. The series accompanies the Future Architecture platform, a European-wide network and EU-funded initiative created by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana. Edited by the &beyond collective (of which Sophie Lovell is a founding member) and published by dpr-barcelona, the first three volumes – The Museum, The Studio, and The Site – map contemporary architectural practice and urban planning, presented through the words, ideas and images of some of its key players and change-makers. From institutions, activists, thinkers, curators and architects to urban bloggers, polemicists, critics and publishers, these are the people shaping tomorrow’s architecture and cities – and so helping to shape our societies of the future too.

Leading on from the theoretical approaches contained in Volume 2, the third volume: The SiteA field guide to making the future of architecture, presents a further selection from the Future Architecture platform’s 2015 call for ideas. The focus here is on the nitty-gritty of practice: projects and strategies that are on-site or site-ready to shake up that future. These are the inspirational solutions and ideas, which could soon be transforming the landscape of architecture and our cities, reasserting the agency architecture in its widest sense.  Contributors include: Aleksandra Zarek; Plan Común; Guerilla Architects; Jack Self; Lavinia Scaletti; Léopold Lambert; Manon Mollard; Urbz and Natasha Reid.

The publication of all three volumes also marks the launch of the digital platform archifutures.org, designed to functions as the Archifutures digital bookshelf, a live repository of Future Architecture platform contributions and experiences. This allows both participants and readers to arrange and print on demand their own personal compilations. It also enables them to interact with the material and its dissemination, feeding back into current debate and mapping out new networks.

Archifutures is conceived, edited and designed by &beyond and published by dpr-barcelona. The series accompanies the Future Architecture platform, a European-wide network and EU-funded initiative created by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana.

Archifutures Volume 2: The Studio

A field guide to speculating upon the future of architecture

Conceived, edited and designed by &beyond. The second volume in a new book series bringing together projects and initiatives, both real and speculative, that are shaping tomorrow’s architecture and cities – and thus our societies of the future.

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Archifutures is a new field guide to the future of architecture. The series accompanies the Future Architecture platform, a European-wide network and EU-funded initiative created by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana. Edited by the &beyond collective (of which Sophie Lovell is a founding member) and published by dpr-barcelona, the first three volumes – The Museum, The Studio, and The Site – map contemporary architectural practice and urban planning, presented through the words, ideas and images of some of its key players and change-makers. From institutions, activists, thinkers, curators and architects to urban bloggers, polemicists, critics and publishers, these are the people shaping tomorrow’s architecture and cities – and so helping to shape our societies of the future too.

In Volume 2: The Studio – A field guide to speculating upon the future of architecture, the focus is on the cutting-edge thinking and wider theoretical questions and themes underpinning the series, from reflections upon what our ideas of “future” really mean to the changing role of the architecture profession as a whole. This volume comprises speculative visions, essays and texts from contributors including: Ana Jeinić, Miloš Kosec, Clément Blanchet, Amateur Cities, Liam Young, Something Fantastic, Merve Bedir, Tomaž Pipan, Davide Tommaso Ferrando, Tiago Torres-Campos and Reinier de Graaf.

The publication of all three volumes also marks the launch of the digital platform archifutures.org, designed to functions as the Archifutures digital bookshelf, a live repository of Future Architecture platform contributions and experiences. This allows both participants and readers to arrange and print on demand their own personal compilations. It also enables them to interact with the material and its dissemination, feeding back into current debate and mapping out new networks.

Archifutures is conceived, edited and designed by &beyond and published by dpr-barcelona. The series accompanies the Future Architecture platform, a European-wide network and EU-funded initiative created by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana.

Archifutures Volume 1: The Museum

A field guide to communicating the future of archtecture

Conceived, edited and designed by &beyond. The first volume in a new book series bringing together projects and initiatives, both real and speculative, that are shaping tomorrow’s architecture and cities – and thus our societies of the future.

+ Full text and information

Archifutures is a new field guide to the future of architecture. The series accompanies the Future Architecture platform, a European-wide network and EU-funded initiative created by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana. Edited by the &beyond collective (of which Sophie Lovell is a founding member) and published by dpr-barcelona, the first three volumes – The Museum, The Studio, and The Site map contemporary architectural practice and urban planning, presented through the words, ideas and images of some of its key players and change-makers. From institutions, activists, thinkers, curators and architects to urban bloggers, polemicists, critics and publishers, these are the people shaping tomorrow’s architecture and cities – and so helping to shape our societies of the future too.

Volume 1: The Museum, which launched at the Lisbon Triennale in November 2016, spotlights the work of the Future Architecture platform members themselves, whilst the second and third volumes, The Studio and The Site, present a thoughtful selection of theories and practice shaping the “future of architecture” today.

The first volume, The Museum – A field guide to communicating the future of architecture, includes contributions from institutions such as the MAXXI in Rome and the Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel; festivals like Tirana Architecture Week and Prishtina Architecture Week, Kosovo; research and education platforms Design Biotop in Ljubljana and CANactions in Kiev and publishers dpr-barcelona. It maps their work communicating new and innovative thought and practice that is leading architecture today, highlighting the strategies they use and programmes they run to support this. Steering the dialogue are current practitioners and thinkers including Superstudio, Socks Studio, Nick Axel and Léa-Catherine Szacka. The volume also a specially commissioned “collage conversation”, a visual dialogue between generations, from Superstudio co-founder Cristiano Toraldo di Francia and Guillermo Lopez of MAIO.

The publication of all three volumes also marks the launch of the digital platform archifutures.org, designed to functions as the Archifutures digital bookshelf, a live repository of Future Architecture platform contributions and experiences. This allows both participants and readers to arrange and print on demand their own personal compilations. It also enables them to interact with the material and its dissemination, feeding back into current debate and mapping out new networks.

Archifutures is conceived, edited and designed by &beyond and published by dpr-barcelona. The series accompanies the Future Architecture platform, a European-wide network and EU-funded initiative created by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana.

Dieter Rams: So wenig Design wie möglich

by Sophie Lovell

“Gleichgültigkeit gegenüber den Menschen und der Wirklichkeit, in der sie leben, ist die einzige wirkliche Todsünde beim Design”.

The Dieter Rams monograph is now available in German as well, published by Edel Books.

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“Gleichgültigkeit gegenüber den Menschen und der Wirklichkeit, in der sie leben, ist die einzige wirkliche Todsünde beim Design”.

Dieter Rams gehört zu den einflussreichsten Designern des 20. Jahrhunderts. Selbst jene, die seinen Namen nicht kennen, sind garantiert mit einem seiner Produkte vertraut, denn Rams prägte von Mitte der 1950er- bis in die späten 1990er-Jahre hinein als Chefdesigner die Handschrift des Elektrogeräteherstellers Braun. Ob Haartrockner, Radio oder Entsafter, alle von ihm gestalteten Produkte sind durch eine klare Ästhetik, hohe Bedienerfreundlichkeit und Nützlichkeit bestimmt. Denn Dieter Rams ist angesichts der mitunter chaotischen Gegenwart von der Notwendigkeit innovativen, verständigen und langlebigen Designs überzeugt. Seine zukunftsweisenden Ideen versucht er nicht nur mittels einer radikal reduzierten Formgebung zu realisieren, sondern hielt sie auch in zehn Thesen fest, deren letzte und vielleicht wichtigste lautet: “Gutes Design ist so wenig Design wie möglich”.

“So wenig Design wie möglich” ist ein hochwertig ausgestattetes Buch, das die Arbeit von Dieter Rams in all ihren Facetten dokumentiert: Beleuchtet werden neben seiner Tätigkeit für Braun auch seine Produktlinie für den Möbelhersteller Vitsoe (wie sein berühmtes Regalsystem 606), sein architektonisch höchst ambitioniertes Eigenheim sowie sein Einfluss auf die wichtigsten zeitgenössischen Designer. Mit exklusiven Fotografien, vielen Skizzen und einer Chronik seines Lebenswerks bietet dieses Buch einen umfangreichen überblick über das Leben und Werk von Dieter Rams, der zahlreiche Designklassiker schuf und einer jungen Generation von Designern bis heute als Vorbild gilt.

Date: 1st Edition: May 2011, 2nd Edition: Dec 2011, German Edition May 2013
Publisher: Edel Verlag
Author: Sophie Lovell (with a foreward by Jonathan Ive and contributing essay by Klaus Klemp)
Graphic design: Kobi Benezri

Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible

by Sophie Lovell

“Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design”

Dieter Rams

Sophie Lovell’s comprehensive monograph on the highly influential product designer Dieter Rams who, as head of design at Braun from 1961 to 1995, created some of the most iconic utility objects of the twentieth century.

Foreword by Jonathan Ive.

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“Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design”

Dieter Rams

During the early stages of working on this book, I travelled to Osaka, Japan, for an exhibition about the work of Dieter Rams in the context of twentieth-century design. On the evening after the opening we were sitting in a bar at the top of a high-rise hotel, looking out through huge plate-glass windows at the nocturnal panorama of the dense industrial Osaka cityscape. It had been a long day of press conferences, opening speeches and seminars followed by a Japanese banquet in Dieter Rams’ honour, and now I was in the company of a small group of people including Klaus Klemp, the exhibition’s co-curator, Mark Adams and Daniel Nelson from Vitsoe, Dieter Rams and his wife Ingeborg, and Rams’ good friend and advisor Britte Siepenkothen, enjoying a nightcap of Japanese whisky.

We were quietly discussing the day’s events when Dieter Rams, who had worked hard all day and appeared tired, suddenly said, “Why on earth do we need another book about me?” At the age of seventy-six, Rams had been famous as a designer since he was twenty-five and despite acknowledging that having people interested in your work and ideas is no bad thing, he hated all the limelight and media attention.
“I want nothing to do with this star designer machine”, he added, suddenly getting rather worked up. We all looked at him. Apart from the fact that, as one of the most respected industrial designers in the world, he was a “star” whether he liked it or not, the reason why the world needed another book had been made absolutely clear earlier in the day in the huge auditorium packed with young designers and design students hanging on to Rams’ every word. A particularly beautiful and precise speech at the symposium by the Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa, who praised Rams’ oeuvre of what he aptly called “correct design”, highlighted the level of respect there is for his work among today’s top professionals in the field. Klaus Klemp was the first to speak up: “Dieter”, he said, “you still have work to do, to communicate and bring your message across to the young people”. There was a chorus of assent from all those present. Mollified, Rams agreed that this was a good reason to do another book. “But”, he added, looking at me very intently, “it should be an empty book that says something important”.

Limited Edition: Prototypes, One-Offs and Design-Art Furniture

by Sophie Lovell

Through design prototypes, limited editions and design-as-art-objects, “Limited Edition” documents a growing phenomenon in contemporary furniture design. It is illustrated with works that reflect the very best of this new area from new and behind-the-scenes images from some of its leading protagonists to an equally fascinating collection of newcomers and unknowns.

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Limited Edition is about designers who make furniture objects outside of the industrial manufacturing system. Although some employ the same criteria, tools and materials as those required to produce many hundreds or thousands of copies of an object, this book is about individuals working on the peripheries of that system, or the work of those who have chosen to step outside of it completely. Many of the designers in this book think of themselves as explorers, testing the boundaries of materials, process and medium. For them the product almost seems to be an afterthought or added extra. These designers are committed to experimentation; to exploring not just the nature and forms of what they produce but also the systems within which they are commissioned, created, received, displayed, appraised and used. There is also a growing band of gallerists, patrons and curators who are nurturing and encouraging these experiments in the form of one-offs, prototypes or limited editions. They are helping to create new connections between design and the market, between product and object, between industry and ideas: changing attitudes and challenging structures.

 

“Either consciously or unconsciously, these individuals are asking some big questions: What is design? What does it mean to call oneself a designer? What are the roles of objects and products? If design is to provide so many solutions, where does it have to go to find new answers, to extend beyond itself and the boundaries of its own limitations? Which constraints are now negotiable for design as a discipline, and which are non-negotiable? It is hard to find answers especially when the very issues involved are in such a nascent stage of change that we have not even developed an appropriate vocabulary with which to discuss them. Many of the designers I spoke to whilst writing this book found it hard to put names or categories to what they were doing and how they were working. We need the perspective of time and the luxury of a hindsight that we do not yet have. What we can do, however, is look at patterns and choose examples and individuals who seem to be looking at, evaluating and producing objects in a different way.”

 

LimitedEdition is a highly selective opinion poll on the state of furniture design at the borders of industry and outside of it. In over 40 interviews with designers, manufacturers, gallerists, auctioneers and critics, I have attempted to sift and arrange some of their thoughts and comments into broad groups and areas that seem to represent some patterns or parallels. It may be old-fashioned to do so, but I have also tried to break down this new world of explorative design objects into categories. It is not a taxonomy by any means –the styles, forms and materials are far too diverse for that – but rather a loose categorisation according to intent on the part of the designer, curator or patron, as well as the ways in which they are collaborating with one another. Categories – however loose they may be – do tend to aid discussion and communication. Nevertheless, this book is by no means comprehensive. I would be the first to admit that this survey is limited in its scope and there are other voices that also deserve to be heard. My aim has been to give a brief insight into the dazzling creative array of work out there and, I hope, to encourage further discourse rather than jump to premature or dogmatic conclusions. If I have succeeded, “LimitedEdition” is not just a book about beautiful things, but hopefully provides food for thought as well.

 

Less and More

The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams

In the more than 40 years that he spent working at Braun, Dieter Rams established himself as one of the most influential designers of the twentieth century. His elegantly clear visual language not only defined product design for decades, but also our fundamental understanding of what design is and what it can and should do.

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This is the comprehensive catalogue for the successful “Less and More” exhibition on the work of Dieter Rams shown at: Suntory Museum, Osaka; Fuchu Art Museum, Tokyo, Design Museum, London, MAK, Frankfurt; Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul and the SFMoMA, CA.

Sophie Lovell contributed the chapter essay: “Dieter Rams: The Designer’s Designer” which looks at the influence of Dieter Rams design, methods and principles on contemporary design thinking.

Updating Germany

100 Projects for a Better Future

How do we want to live in the future? Which creative strategies and technical concepts can we employ to manage today’s social and economic challenges?

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There are no simple instructions, no clear answers on how to achieve a better future. This hardback catalogue of the German contribution to the 11th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2008 was produced in Berlin and features one hundred architecture projects, design projects, research projects, and conceptual models that are currently being developed or realized in Germany. Sophie Lovell was involved as catalogue editor, text writer and project consultant.

Furnish: Furniture and Interior Design for the 21st Century

written by Sophie Lovell

Furnish is a visual feast of contemporary furniture design with a twist. It concentrates on crossover areas between the fields of design, art and architecture that involve “objects” or “furniture” in the broadest sense.

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We have entered an age where the boundaries between creative disciplines have become noticeably porous and where new technologies, materials and processes alter our environments with a greater frequency than ever before. The rules that govern how we furnish our living spaces are in the process of being rewritten – at least for those living within the technological development bubble. Furnish seeks to document new work from pioneering designers, artists and architects exploring new domestic territories. This work moves beyond the pre-kindergarten aesthetic of “blobjects” or the stripped down worthiness of “new functionalism” of the nineties and signals a more developed sense of playfulness, and irreverent thrift as well as the beginnings of a new vocabulary of form.

Design has become a catch-all term that can no longer be pigeonholed into discrete disciplines. In fact all the creative fields are in sore need of a new vocabulary to match the vagaries of its protagonists. It is not unusual, for example, to find architects engineering tables, artists designing tree houses, graphic designers tuning sofas and jaded industrial designers developing conceptual products that have nothing to do with practical function.

A discipline tends to be limited by its tools, but when we have access to affordable tools whose application capacity extends way beyond their original mandate it is only natural to want to experiment. As computer sophistication and new technologies become increasing accessible to the individual, our capability to cross genres is dramatically expanded. Both consumers and designers are not just creating, editing and manipulating their own films, animations, websites and music, for example, but designing their own interiors, furniture, structures and objects as well with the aid of these technologies and the software that governs them. Far from making designers, artists or craftspeople redundant, this phenomenon seems only to be tending towards a further redundancy of categories and borders between disciplines. More of us are being more creative and more creatives are broadening their fields of activity. Interestingly, the role of the skilled professional is not being eroded as a result but their capacity for collaboration beyond the confines of their respective disciplines, should they choose to do so, has taken a quantum leap.

It is not just individuals that are discovering new opportunities beyond their conventional labels, object categories too are beginning to look increasingly wobbly: In this book alone, we find furniture as landscape; furniture as concept, as data, as interface, as digital-organic growth, as mutation or insertion. Furnish illustrates a babel of form that is breathtaking in its diversity from flatpack baroque or postmodern porcelain to strange neo-organic chimeras. Hybridisation and appropriation are key themes – opening up all the borders means abandoning rules of aesthetics and genre distinctions. Mixing hi-tech with retro elements, building in historical narrative or bootlegging the designs of others are all permissible. Only the laws of physics still apply: if you want to make a chair then it has to be structurally sound or you won’t be able to sit on it and it can’t therefore be a chair (unless of course it is a concept masquerading as a chair).

Convertible City

Modes of Densification and Dissolving Boundaries

“Convertible City” documents exciting changes in architecture and urban structure in Germany and how existing potential can be sustainably exploited for new urban worlds of living and working.

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Convertible City: Modes of Densification and Dissolving Boundaries was designed as the catalogue to accompany the German pavilion contribution at the 10th Venice Biennale 2006. The theme of the exhibition, curated by the Berlin-based architects GrüntuchErnst, and its catalogue, was to focus on stimulating projects for transforming existing urban situations in German cities. Convertible City defined itself as: an expression of the continuity and transformative power of urban space, a call for maintaining the diversity of city life, a demand for the sustainable use of core cities, an alternative to urban sprawl encroaching on natural areas, the dissolution of boundaries in the urban habitat, creative appropriation of metropolitan areas, an expression of a positive attitude to urban life and an inspiration and stimulation for new concepts of living.

Talking Cities

The Micropolitics of Urban Space

“Talking Cities” is both catalogue and contemporary architectural perspective in magazine format, designed to accompany the Talking Cities exhibition, curated by Francesca Ferguson of Urban Drift as part of ENTRY 2006 in the Zeche Zollverein, Essen.

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Talking Cities is both catalogue and contemporary architectural pespective in magazine format, designed to accompany the Talking Cities exhibition curated by Francesca Ferguson of Urban Drift as part of ENTRY 2006 in the Zeche Zollverein, Essen. The magazine is a dense collage of statements, essays and designs centred around contemporary discussion about reconfiguring and reactivating the marginal, residual and public spaces of our cities. It investigates the fragmented conditions that make up our present day urban realities, drawing parallels and initiating new juxtapositions.

On Air

The Visual Messages and Global Language of MTV

Everybody has their own MTV. Over the past quarter of a century MTV has grown from an inspired new entertainment concept via a revolutionary window on the world of alternative music, visual imagery and culture into a mythos.

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Everybody had their own MTV. For a quarter of a century MTV, grew from an inspired new entertainment concept via a revolutionary window on the world of alternative music, visual imagery and culture into a mythos. Talk to any creative that grew up as part of the “MTV generation” and they will tell you nostalgic tales of long nights of their formative years spent in the company of a gogglebox in their teenage bedrooms and about seminal MTV moments of music, art, inspiration and longing.

Over time, MTV ceased to be just “music television” – the simple American link and clip cable channel showing back-to-back rock videos with VJ hosts and some quirky graphics that sent the “kids” wild. It became universal, part of the furniture, part of growing up, part of the fabric of the entertainment-saturated lives of youth. It went beyond music, colonised genres, communities, regions and languages; expanding into a world of reality TV, games, award ceremonies, ring-tones and cartoon series. It broke free from the confines of the television set and spread to computers and telephones. At it’s height, MTV covered 46 channels and 37 websites, blogs, games, downloads, streaming, wireless content and became increasingly interactive. When MTV hosted live events, the young come in their hundreds of thousands and almost a billion people worldwide at one point had access to the channel.

For 25 years MTV somehow managed to hold the notoriously fickle attention of teenagers and young adults by continuously growing and mutating, but also always remaining constant. It became one of the world’s biggest brands with an extremely powerful identity, yet MTV it found a way to straddle the gap between being huge, mainstream mass entertainment and having a rebellious, left-field, cool and individual image. How did it do that?

Some years ago, a guy named Herman Vaske went around asking lots of famous artists, filmmakers, musicians, actors and creatives a simple question: “Why are you creative?”. The responses were fascinating enough to end up as a book and a TV series spin-off. The key to the success of the project was the choice of interviewees. They were highly talented and fascinating individuals who had made unique and often ground breaking contributions to their fields – creative pioneers if you will.

Asking someone “Why are you creative?” is as good as asking: “What makes you tick?”, “How do you do what you do?” or “What are you?”. If you are asking a person who has produced a particularly rich and fascinating body of work, who is honest and has spent some time thinking about themselves and what they do, then their answers can be both illuminating, inspiring and often surprising. If the subject happens to be a multinational corporation rather than an individual then you would expect the answers to become fractured and dissonant; diluted “corpspeak”. But MTV is not a normal multinational corporation. MTV is an idea, it is an attitude – it even has a generation named after it. Despite all its growth, MTV strayed little from the cutting edge – in its own mind at least – and made being new, fresh and always first through the patronage of new creative talent the key to its success.

On Air is a look at how MTV ticked creatively. Author Sophie Lovell and other contributors talked to nearly 100 animators, filmmakers and designers; people who make the graphics, promo films and idents for the channel. The ones who make those crucial “little pieces of art” that stubbornly remained between all that programming. It looks at a selection of the very best of their MTV work internationally and talks to them about the trials and joys of creating animation shorts for MTV, about the range of technologies at their disposal and how these have facilitated their work, and it asks them about the effect that access to precious MTV airtime has had on their careers.

On Air also talked to the people within MTV, the creative directors and producers whose job it is to maintain MTV’s left-field identity and prevent it from sliding into the morass of bland uniform commercial entertainment. A bunch of individuals who are often surprisingly rebellious themselves, with strong ideas about their MTV and where its attitudes and duties should lie. It asked about how the channel fostered a continually creative and innovative environment and how it adapted and survived creatively. It asks where the future of music entertainment is heading – and what is the secret of eternal youth.

This Gun is for Hire

From Personal to Corporate Design Projects

A compilation of work by some of the most innovative contemporary designers from around the world. Designs for corporate and cultural clients by 3deluxe Graphics, Antoine + Manuel, Base, Jonathan Barnbrook, Francois Chalet, Günter Eder, Greige, Lobo, Rinzen etc.

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Is contemporary corporate design dull and full of compromise? Do designers and illustrators approach commercial projects in a different way to how they approach private ones? Is the work that designers do for themselves “better”, more “free”, more imaginative than the work they produce for their clients?

These were the sorts of questions that first inspired this book. It is a select compilation of personal, cultural and corporate projects from some of the world’s leading young designers. In their own words, the designers talk us through the joys and sorrows, pitfalls and crowning moments, learning curves and tricky client negotiations that are all part and parcel of their job. It also examines some of the main issues that confront designers in the realisation of their work and how they define, segregate, rationalise or integrate their corporate, cultural and private projects.