10 design exhibitions for 2020

Unusual territories, new curatorial approaches and a renewed attention towards the past and the future: here’s our design exhibition calendar for next year.

Speculating on the future of the world, scouting the best practices, celebrating and consecrating the past and the future and everything in between. The exhibitions that international design museums are going to inaugurate in 2020 will serve as a great way to observe the evolution of design and the real (or hoped-for) interests of its wider public.

Some of the most promising search paths are based on current concerns. The long-awaited "State of Extremes" exhibition at the Design Museum Holon in Israel has already opened and it will last until late spring 2020. The curator of the exhibition (Aric Chen together with Maya Dvash and Azinta Planteng) tell the extremisms derived from nowadays environmental and social crises. These extremisms find in design a metaphor for exploring microcosms, finding new aesthetics and digesting phenomena that, as threatening as they are, are about to become a new normality.

With a way more optimistic attitude, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) with the "Full Circle: Design Without End" exhibition (curated by Janelle Miniter) analyzes the role of design in the circular economy: in this case, a regenerative potential takes shape thanks to the designers dedicated to the environment and communities, both on a large and small scale. At MUDEC in Milan, the timeless passion for robotics becomes the theme of an in-depth study that, without interruption, leads us from the machines of the past to the automatons of the future. With "Robot. The Human Project", the museum finds the key to explore the technological and ethical scenarios with which the progressive emancipation of our digital clones will put us more and more in touch.

“Home Stories: 100 Years, 20 Visionary Interiors”, Vitra Design Museum. elii [oficina de arquitectura], Yojigen Poketto Apartment (kitchenette and sleeping area) Madrid, Spain, 2017. © elii [oficina de arquitectura]. Photo Imagen Subliminal – Miguel de Guzmán + Rocío Romero

However, it is the transversal keys of interpretation, the most curious and apparently unrelated to the discipline, that offer the most original discoveries. The universal theme of travel was chosen for the exhibition "Travel as a Tool", that the Design Museum in Helsinki will inaugurate next spring. The routes and itineraries taken by some Scandinavian designers since 1940 become a key to exploring how travel represents one of the most fertile areas of discovery and dialogue for designers. Again, at the Design Museum Gent, in Belgium, the paradigm of colour in the universe of the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck becomes with "Kleureyck - Van Eyck's Colours in Design" a cultured and intriguing pretext for setting up graphic, product and craft projects based on chromatic affinity.

The universe of one of the most psychedelic novels in children's literature, "Alice in Wonderland", is the research theme on which the Victoria & Albert Museum in London is betting with "Alice: Curiouser And Curiouser", which will be inaugurated next summer. A wide range of items will enrich the exhibition, allowing Lewis Carroll's text to keep on inspiring unforeseen phenomenologies in the contemporary world.

The celebration of periods or individuals that rapresented a watershed in the history of design also offers further insights for design enthusiasts. It was inaugurated a few days ago at MAK "Bentwood And Beyond: Thonet And Modern Furniture Design": the Viennese museum, which boasts one of the most significant collections of bentwood chairs designed by Michael Thonet, shows the public their most virtuous examples, combining the great classics with the experiments carried out in the second half of the twentieth century (such as the Verner Panton's Thonet) and in the first two decades of 2000. Still on the subject of recognition and consecration, the exhibition about Prada that the Design Museum London will inaugurate in September 2020 is very much awaited: the first major monographic exhibition on Miuccia Prada's sophisticated production will retrace not only her intuitions (and revolutions) in taste, but also the operations in the field of architecture and art that have turned the italian fashion house into an avant-garde cultural operator.

The major exhibition that the Vitra Design Museum will inaugurate in February focuses on interior design. "Home Stories: 100 Years, 20 Visionary Interiors" tells the twentieth century through 20 paradigmatic and exceptional interior architectures. Among them, there are those of architects such as Adolf Loos, Lina Bo Bardi, Assemble, as well as the exceptional home of Andy Warhol and the homes of interior designers such as Elsie de Wolfe and Cecil Beaton. Finally, the MAMC of Saint-Étienne, the historic epicentre of french design, is proposing a reinterpretation of its archives with the exhibition "Déjà-Vu. Le Design Dans Notre Quotidien" (curated by Imke Plinta). Great national and international design classics are displayed in a journey that sees familiarity as the key to better understand the meaning of objects and their oscillation between the private dimension and a wider social context.

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