Toronto’s Nuit Blanche 2018

“I can do that, all I need is an iPhone and a couple of lights,” this is what my friend says as we go through an interactive experience that flips our image as we walk through.

This is one of the many lack lustered experiences we were hunting down because it was Nuit Blanche and art was in the air. I remember years ago when they had proper funding and sponsorship the top tier artists and installations that flooded the streets of Toronto. Now, I feel there is a real gap in programming, curation and all around art. I had this same experience at Hamilton’s Supercrawl, where I was looking for some real art and was disappointed at what was presented.

So, how can we turn the tide and get some real high-quality art and design in our cities? We have to demand that we deserve better.

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The Serpentine Pavilion: Unzipped by Bjarke Ingels

Getting the opportunity to design a structure for the Serpentine Pavilion is like the Super Bowl of architecture. I had the pleasure of visiting last year’s pavilion designed by Francis Kere and was so amazed and moved by the space that I honestly could have stayed there for days. 

What I find impressive about the programming is done by the Brits, is that they are always looking for ways to innovate and collaborate on a large scale. 

In 2016, Bjarke Ingels was invited to design the serpentine pavilion which is situated in the middle of Hyde Park in London. “The serpentine gallery is an icon for miniature architectural manifestos and 2/3rds of the architects who have designed the pavilion are Pritzker Prize-winning architect,” as he describes the honour it is to be chosen to design on Netflix’s Abstract: The Art of Design.

Now, we are lucky to have the opportunity to have this structure in our very own backyard. It’s not every day we get to this type of experience. Like most high profile exhibitions, this one is timed and although it seems you can just ‘walk off the street’ you have to buy tickets to see it.

The interior programming of the space has been changed from a bar/performance area to an exhibition space that allows the visitor to learn more about the architect and the proposed condo that is to curtain the street. This was the first time I was aware that we were to have a BIG building in Toronto and immediately registered. Finally, a building that reflects the type of lifestyle I want to live in that is not a ‘glass tower’.

As you approach the entrance to the pavilion, the cavernous form invites you into the structure where you are invited into the mind of Bjarke Ingels. The movement created by the fiberglass grid-like skeleton almost expands and contracts as if it is breathing as you explore and discover the many projects by BIG architects. As grandiose as it appears, it is a very intimate space and when you look up, the ‘unzipped’ feeling emerges. When you exit and get the chance to walk around the pavilion, the shape undulates to mimic a rolling hill and false natural landscape within the dense fabric is it located in.

What can I say, I’m a fan and can’t wait for us to have a truly, unique and innovative building in Toronto.

The Current State of Architecture

In the recently published book On Seen, Zoe Ryan presents the eleven most influential design and architecture exhibitions in the last 50 years. From This is Tomorrow to Massive Change: The Future of Global Design she identifies the key drivers such as expressive antidotes, new materials and conceptual work that made these exhibitions so important. Coming from a curatorial background she builds the case and sets the stage that historically:

Exhibitions have long played a vital role in making and remaking architecture and design history. They bring together key figures and bodies of work, position ideas and present arguments, shed light on current concerns, suggest future directions and draw connection with larger theoretical, political, and cultural conversation…Where within the fields of architecture and design, exhibitions have been critical to advancing ideas (13).

Within this context of making and remaking design history through exhibitions, the most famous and prestigious stage for the fields of architecture and design is the Venice Architecture Biennale which is considered “the Olympics for architecture, bringing together a global perspective” (Feuerman, The Conversation) around contemporary design. This is where the world gathers every two years to see what significant breakthroughs and innovations are propelling the industry forward.

Set in a “semi-abandoned shipyard and its adjoining garden…the Venice Architecture Biennale is a colossal exhibition comprised of one major installation by a significant architect, as well as a multitude of smaller shows put on by individual countries (known as the national pavilions)” (Jack Self, CNN).

Yet, in recent years there has been a dilemma with the Venice Architecture Biennale and the content being presented. President Paolo Baratta of La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale) articulates this problem clearly in the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale program book Reporting from the Front:

What is an architecture exhibition? And what should a Biennale Architecttura be? In La Biennale Arte, to which La Biennale Architettura is offspring, the works are right there on display before the visitors; with an architecture exhibition, the works are elsewhere. What should be represented here? This is indeed an ongoing quest (16).

 

Sacred Spaces by Meredith Jay

Meredith Jay is a multidisciplinary artist who received a BFA in studio art from Concordia University. Located in Toronto, she makes sculptural installations that merge the digital and physical, as well as, sound, drawing, video and film. Through ritual and devotion Jay invokes and questions human behaviour and the collective memory.  Continue reading “Sacred Spaces by Meredith Jay”

Design Does – Barcelona Design Museum

Now, this is how you get the average individual to care about design. Currently on show at Barcelona Design Museum Design Does collectively explores how design tackles the challenges faced by society, at times offering improvements and, at others, doing just the opposite. Conceived to transcend the limits of space, time and conventional formats, this project explores the responsibility that lies with design and its impact on the industry, people, social systems and cultural values. Design Does question the designer’s role today and in the future as a provider of solutions, humanist, strategist and/or agent of change. Continue reading “Design Does – Barcelona Design Museum”

V&A to salvage wreckage for Venice Architecture Biennale

A fragment of the Robin Hood Gardens housing estate salvaged from the demolition site by London’s V&A museum is to be transported to Italy and displayed at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

The V&A acquired a three-storey section of the estate last year in addition to the fragment it will take to Venice when demolition work on the brutalist social housing estate began. Continue reading “V&A to salvage wreckage for Venice Architecture Biennale”

Innovation Exchange at EDIT

Last September, I was part of a team that produced George Brown College’s exhibition at Canada’s first design biennial EDIT (Education, Design, Innovation, and Technology). The installation was made up of several parts: a video, a timeline, a VR experience. Continue reading “Innovation Exchange at EDIT”

Designer Maker User

From objects to services to systems, everything in this world has been designed. Design is a process carried out by people, for people. At its heart is a dialogue between three key people: the designer, the maker, and the user. Currently, on show at London’s Design Museum, Designer Maker User invites the visitor to explore design from the perspectives of all three. It shows how designers respond to the needs of makers and users, how users consume and influence design, and how revolutions in technology and manufacturing transform the world. Continue reading “Designer Maker User”

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

If there is one new museum to see, it’s this one. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is by far the most impressive piece of architecture and culture in North America because it is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. Continue reading “The National Museum of African American History and Culture”

Fragments

Currently on show at the Gladstone Hotel is Ryerson University’s third-year Image Arts photography students have come together in a collaborative effort to present Fragments, a visual dialogue which centers on human experience. Continue reading “Fragments”