Panoramic image by Neil Campbell Ross, 2014 © Neil Campbell Ross
Konstantin Grcic is one of the most influential designers of our time, combining industrial aesthetics and experimental, artistic elements into works that are both avant-garde and functional. This is the Asian debut of the largest solo exhibition on Grcic and his work to date, with large-scale installations, including a home interior, design studio and urban environment, specifically designed to render his personal vision of the future. Over 200 exhibits will be on display, juxtaposing products, prototypes and drawings with design pieces, everyday items and found objects that have inspired him, intriguingly revealing his design development and working processes.
Grcic has developed specifically for this exhibition three large-scale installations, rendering his personal visions for life in the future, staging fictional scenarios confronting the viewer with the designer’s inspirations, challenges and questions, as well as placing Grcic’s works in a greater social context. The highlight of these presentations is a 30-metre long panorama that depicts an architectural landscape of the future. A fourth area of the exhibition takes a focused look at Grcic’s daily work. This section presents many of his finished objects, but also prototypes, drawings and background information along with artefacts that have inspired Grcic.
In the shift of perspectives between larger and smaller scales, the exhibition demonstrates how design is more than mere problem solving for Grcic, but a highly complex process that integrates coincidences, ruptures, chance discoveries and a profound engagement with the visual culture of our time.
“Life Space provides a place for withdrawal while simultaneously offering great freedom. You surround yourself with those things that are important to you. Your space, your things, this is you.”
This is an interior especially designed by Grcic that reflects his personal conception of a living room of the future. While recent years have witnessed the advent of smart homes with their ultra-functional technology, Grcic seeks a balance between intimacy and technology. He presents solutions for practical needs such as physical comfort, power access and domestic functions, which consequently serve as a foundation to evolve an aesthetic of the home – a collage of old and new, of known and unknown, complete with the empty spaces and gaps which are present in every interior.
With his Life Space, Grcic advocates a heightened understanding of the interior as a reflection of personal identity: the identity of people living in the twenty-first century.
Rendering, ‘Life Space’, “Konstantin Grcic – Panorama”, © KGID
“Public Space is a panorama of the future. Hope and apocalypse. Contrasts collide, creating tension.”
For the exhibition, Grcic has transferred several of his designs, including his iconic Chair_One
(2004) and the seating object Landen
(2007), into a fictive public space. The backdrop for this installation is a panoramic image by conceptual artist Neil Campbell Ross: a pictorial world that navigates between reality and fiction, between present and future, between utopia and dystopia. The monumental picture encompasses motifs from science fiction, traditional urban structures and vast landscapes as well as images of industrial wasteland, favelas, traffic networks, mechanical structures and strange machines. Although these images are not entirely unfamiliar to us, the overall atmosphere is other-worldly, filled with narrative fragments, questions and visions of the future.
In this part of the exhibition, Grcic’s furniture is accessible for the use of visitors – inviting us to become active participants in a public space of the future.
Visualisation featuring the panoramic image in ‘Public Space’ by Neil Campbell Ross, 2014 (catalogue cover). Montage: Florian Böhm, panorama © Neil Campbell Ross, graphic © Florian Böhm
Rendering, ‘Public Space’, “Konstantin Grcic – Panorama”, © KGID
“This place could be anywhere in the world. In the middle of nowhere. You are an observer, standing directly within a staged setting. It’s some kind of workshop, the work space of a designer, isolated from the outside world yet simultaneously connected to a full array of digital networks.”
This part of the exhibition shows how so-called new technologies have already become familiar tools for designers. The main work table shows projects that represent the spectrum from virtual to physical. Among them are handmade prototypes crafted from sheet metal, models made of rough wooden planks, full-scale Styrofoam blocks to test seating comfort, and precisely modelled shapes made of photopolymers in a computerised procedure. These objects are shown alongside finished pieces of furniture that push the limits of technical possibilities – the adjustable glass chair Man Machine
(2014) is a prime example.
The video projection illustrates how digital and analogue tools interact on a daily basis in Grcic’s studio. Grcic does not simply create objects and develop ideas for future working environments: rather, it becomes apparent that the very act of designing an object often demands experimentation with new forms of teamwork and research as well as testing novel methods and materials.
Rendering, ‘Work Space’, “Konstantin Grcic – Panorama”, © KGID
“The vitrine is a cosmos of knowledge and ideas. Taken as a whole, it represents a part of my biography.”
This space shows the essence of Grcic’s daily work: a concentrated approach to creating new objects. On display is a multitude of products, drawings, prototypes and other pieces from Konstantin Grcic’s creative oeuvre. These are supplemented by objects that serve Grcic as a source of inspiration: the work of respected designers, books, found objects and everyday items. Grcic has accumulated these artefacts over a period of many years, referring to them as his “archive of things”. They are of crucial importance to his daily work: as tools, as inspirational catalysts and as a physical memory bank.
To visualise Grcic’s working processes, the items in this space are not presented in a linear progression nor following chronological order, but as a series of interconnected events, of chance encounters, of leaps and mutations.
‘Object Space’, “Konstantin Grcic – Panorama”, © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Florian Böhm
About Konstantin Grcic
Konstantin Grcic, born in 1965, trained as a cabinet maker at the John Makepeace School (Dorset, England) and studied Design at the Royal College of Art in London. Since setting up his own practice Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design (KGID) in Munich in 1991 he has developed furniture, products and lighting for some of the world´s leading design companies in the design field. Amongst his renowned clients are Authentics, BD Ediciones, ClassiCon, Flos, Flötotto, Laufen, Magis, Mattiazzi, Muji, Nespresso, Plank, Serafino Zani and Vitra. For Galerie kreo in Paris, he has created a number of limited edition pieces since 2004. Many of his products have received international design awards such as the prestigious Compasso d’Oro for his Mayday lamp (Flos) in 2001, the Myto chair (Plank) in 2011 and the OK lamp (Flos) in 2016. Designs by Konstantin Grcic form part of the permanent collections of the most important design museums, including MoMA in New York and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
Konstantin Grcic has curated a number of significant design exhibitions such as "Design Real" for The Serpentine Gallery, London (2009), "Comfort" for the St. Etienne Design Biennale (2010) and "Black2" for the Istituto Svizzero, Rome (2010). In 2012 he was responsible for the exhibition design of the German Pavilion at the 13th Architecture Biennale in Venice. Solo exhibitions of his work have been shown in different countries and most recently at HKDI Gallery, Hong Kong (2016), Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany (2016) and Die Neue Sammlung, Germany (2015).
The Royal Society for the Arts appointed Konstantin Grcic "Royal Designer for Industry" in 2009, in 2010 he was fellow at Villa Massimo in Rome, and in 2015 he was awarded joint Designer of the Year by Wallpaper*. In 2016 Konstantin Grcic was awarded the Personality distinction for his achievements by the German Design Council. He was also named Best Designer by Salone del Mobile Milano this year.
Konstantin Grcic defines function in human terms, combining formal strictness with considerable mental acuity and humour. Each of his products is characterised by a careful research into the history of design and architecture and his passion for technology and materials. Known for pared-down pieces, Grcic is often called a minimalist but the designer himself prefers to speak of simplicity.
Konstantin Grcic, photo: Markus Jans