0aaapafdle4.jpgFavourite project seen at designmai last week was Christoph Kroenke´s Paddle Skin.

He used liquid latex to recreate the shape of electronic devices, from turntables to joysticks. They had a worn out feeling, were soft, super light, empty and their texture felt and looked like skin. Some of them were hanging at his booth with what looked like an umbilical cord dangling (more images.)

Kroenke studied media art in Cologne and we had a nice discussion about the fact that he thinks that Paddle Skin is still a piece of media art although there is no chip nor net connectivity involved. Other people believe that the fact that his works is only about technology is not enough, they´d rather see the piece as a "traditional" sculpture.


Other works i discovered at that same Designmai Youngsters exhibition:

Britta Boehne´s Cable Carpet that uses ugly wires as part of the pattern. Bjorn Franke was showing The Panic Box (which i missed), a machine which creates a hopeless situation from which the user can only escape by admitting his feeling of panic. Baba Akcja was selling colorful virus.

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I can't say that i've been extremely excited by what i saw at Designmai this week (except the very nice UDK's Sacral Design exhibition on Karl Marx Allee - images). Actually maybe i should only blog about awful things i see in Berlin so designers and artists from other cities would stop writing me everyday to ask if i can help them find a job here. Just (half) joking of course, i love this place too much.

Today, i went to DesignMai Youngster in Kreuzberg and finally remembered why i find this festival so fresh and charming.

Just two examples of what i've discovered today:

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Franziska Dierschke, student at the Bauhaus Academy in Weimar was letting people play with Aimat, some toy-like guns that hide a camera inside.

No display, no focus, no screen, no fuss with buttons, no restricted field of vision. Just look at what you want to photograph as if it were a target. What matters is not the quality of the picture but the simple, playful act of taking it. The images shooted were displayed on a big screen in the exhibition space.


There is also an impossible to ignore real-size inflatable tank with pink flowers sprouting from its barrel. Designed by Yuji Tokuda and Junya Ishikawa, it is part of the retired weapons project that uses graphic design, videos, badges and other items to spread a message of peace around the world. Whatever...

More images of the tank and the guns.

0digitabality.jpgDesignmai opened a few days ago and i'm currently spending an awful lot of time trying to find my way around the Mitte area to visit the shows. Let's start the overview of the event with a look at the Digitalability exhibition that showcases how the new affordability of digital instruments is being harnessed by designers. The exhibition is divided into three broad themes: creation (as illustrated in the video of Front's Sketch Furniture), production and communication. Just a few highlights:

Geoffrey Mann's “Attracted to Light? lampshade tracing the erratic behaviour of a moth upon seeing a light source. The spiralling trajectory of the insect was captured through a cinematographic technique and then materialized using a rapid prototyping technique.

Just underneath the lamp were Marcel WandersAirborne Snotty Vases. The design was based on a 3D scan of sneezing excretions from the nose. The data was sent to a rapid prototyping machine that printed the objects in 3D.

Louise Campbell's very ground chair started as a paper model, was turned into a digital file then transformed into a solid object.

Attracted to Light

Reprap, the "Replicating Rapid Prototyper" is one such rapid prototyping system. The machine, developed by Adrian Bowyer, can copy itself and manufacture everyday objects quickly and cheaply. Bowyer, who gave a talk at the Digitalability symposium, believes that if the technology takes off it could bypass conventional finance. The machines would be creating great wealth, but would be almost valueless themselves. To see why this is so, suppose you had one and decided to copy it and to sell the copy. You think that if you charge $1000 that would be reasonable, and would give you a decent profit. But the person to whom you sell it can copy his or her machine and sell the copies for $900. Very quickly the cost drops to the point where the profit is shaved to the bone (via).

One thing that i forgot to mention is that the exhibition is very white: most of the objects are white, the walls are white, etc. So thanks Marius Watz for splashing magnificent colours on the pale surrounding. His Illuminating B patterns, created with Processing, are a sequence of 100 high resolution vector images. The software version of the work was used in February for the real time visuals of Club Transmediale 07.


Büro Destruct had an amazing graphic Dark Room that uses luminous paper which reveals a sign thanks to sudden flashes. The images are imprinted on the retina of the visitors and remain there as a fleeting memory. Don't miss the video.

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Looks like Martin Mairinger's USED clothing project has inspired Oliver Vogt and Hermann Weizenegger. The press was all over their Relationchip installation that claims to give worn clothes a new lease of life. Discarded garments receive a revamp or “modding? process and a dedicated RFID chip. This chip can be scanned with a reader and contains the images and names of all previous owners and respective modding artists. During Designmai, between 1 pm – 5pm, relationchip.org guest designers will perform as CJs (cloth jockeys).

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The exhibition runs until May 20, on Spandauer Str. 2 in Berlin Mitte.

My images on flickr.
Pingmag has a feature on the exhibition as well.

CALL A BALL is a pretty neat and very simple concept developed by three young Dutch designers: Janis Pönisch (now famous for his Dynamic Terrain), Sören Grünert and Kirsten Hüsig.

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You're in the street and feel a sudden urge to play football? Just walk over to the nearest of the CALL A BALL kiosk, a kind of ball dispenser. You then send an SMS detailing the kiosk's number to CALL A BALLs communication center, which then sends a message authorizing the dispensing of a ball. Thanks to the RFID chip embedded in the ball, the center knows at all times where the ball is.

If you want to find people with whom to play ball, all you have to do is register as a 'baseplayer' at one or more kiosks. Then send out an SMS containing the codeword 'Challenge' to the kiosks of your choice, which will then relay it to your teammates and opponents.


Via Bright.

Dugnad (pronounced doog nahd) is a Norwegian word that describes a special way of doing voluntary, communial work. It's also the conceptual basis for the exhibition presented at PROJEKT OO47 and DesignMai.

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Many smaller Scandinavian cities suffer from a lack of civic pride due to depopulation and the absence of effective planning and development strategies. The exhibition presents two Norwegian practices - artists HåkkiTM and architects Fantastic Norway - devoted to show how art and architecture can play an important role in social development of small towns.

Fantastic Norway has been traveling through the northern part of Norway in a red caravan. They served waffles and coffee wherever they stopped to start the dialogue with the people they met on the road, using these chats as an important design tool. Priming the locals for future collaborations, FN writes articles about the town in the local newspapers to provoke and inspire. Ironically, their first project was not a building, but the prevention of one from being built. Through interviewing the locals and analyzing the town’s structure, FN proved that what the citizens of Brønnøysund needed was not the proposed mall, but an open public space in the center of town.

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HåkkiTM designs and sells merchandize in aid of the small de-industrialized Swedish town of Ljungaverk - a once profitable center in Sweden’s paper industry. Distributing the clothing brand through shops around Norway and Sweden, HåkkiTM makes this Swedish outpost a commercially viable branded commodity.

Both groups use advertising campaigns, temporary events and performative dialogue to make both inhabitants and the outside world aware of the challenges facing these towns. Working with the inhabitants of depopulated towns to design a sense of place and a feeling of pride, they suggest that artistic practices can have a real role as social design.

Current projects include Bring that Super-Mac Back, aiming to raise the necessary money to bring the Scottish football player Kyle McCullum (a.k.a. Super-Mac) to the Ljungaverk Football team in the hope that McCullum will help the team win the championship and bring back the football game as a communal social arena for the Ljungaverk inhabitants.

The show at Projekt 0047 runs until June, 10. Images on flickr.

There were several works at DesignMai for people who live in the streets, here are two of my favourites:

Instant Housing, by Winfried Baumann, are mobile living units tailored to the homeless and other urban nomads's specific personal circumstances (like carrying your laptop or inviting friends to sleep home). They are compact and easy to carry from place to place by a single person.

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Holger Jahns was showing a tray for returnable bottles to be affixed on public trash bins. People would just slip their empty bottles into the holes of the plastic add-on. The bottles would thus be visible and easily collectable for the people who earn their living by returning these bottles to shops. No more garbage digging required. The designer explained that the system is even more necessary now that dog owners are required by the law to dump dog poos into these same trash bins.

More images of Instant Housing and tray.

Check also: Krzysztof Wodiczko's Homeless Vehicles, Electroland's Urban Nomad Shelter, Sean Godsell's urban furniture for the homeless, Lucy Orta, paraSITE,
Homeless yakuza terrorize Tokyo parks, etc.

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