Serpentine Pavilion 2024 by architect Minsuk Cho is a joyful concept, full of intrigue and surprise

Serpentine Pavilion by Minsuk Cho. Image (c) Iwan Baan for Serpentine Galleriies

The 2024 Serpentine Pavilion is imagined as a cluster of islands with each structure unique in its size, form, feel and function. The creative work of Seoul-based Korean architect Minsuk Cho and his firm Mass Studies, Archipelagic Void is a refuge for park strollers, and it acts as a space to host and elevate visitor experiences during Serpentine Galleries’ lively program of events that run from June to October. Take a look here

Norman Foster’s ‘Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture’ at the Guggenheim is a requiem for the age of combustion

Norman Foster's thought-provoking 'Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture' at the Guggenheim Bilbao looks at the pioneers of automobile design in the context of art, architecture and critical theory, provoking timely discussions as we edge towards the post-combustion age
Dymaxion #4, 2010, based on #1-3 (1933’34) by Buckminster Fuller and Starling Burgess. Image curtesy of Normal Foster Foundation

The imagined future of the automobile was once exhilarating. It involved Jean Bugatti’s Type 57SC Atlantic, conceived in 1936 and to this day a work of art on wheels. The future was Wifredo Ricart’s 1952 Pegaso Z-102 Cúpula and Franco Scaglione’s 1954 Alfa Romeo BAT Car 7 for Bertone. Most daring of all, the future could have belonged to a world where the architect and theorist Buckminster Fuller, together with yacht designer Starling Burgess, imagined the painfully cool and to this day avant-garde 1933 Dymaxion.

These motor cars explore inventive aerodynamic shapes, they are nautical-informed feline beauties, have curvaceous, luxurious, customised bodies, and are inspired by science and the space age and rockets. They represent extraordinary ingenuity; many are lyrical designs, immersed in meaning. Their designers were looking to the future, and the automobile’s prospect was bright and exciting, bursting with optimism.

Crucially, all this creative work didn’t happen in car design studio isolation. Rather, automobile design lived within an expansive narrative arc that involved art and architecture, urbanism, critical theory, philosophy and intellectual discourse. The car was seen as a vehicle for progress, not just for profit.

Norman Foster's 'Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture' at the Guggenheim Bilbao looks at the pioneers of automobile design in the context of art and architecture and more, provoking timely discussions as we edge towards the post-combustion age
Eero Saarinen’s General Motors Technical Center (1956), photographed by Ezra Stoller. Curtesy of General Motors

‘Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture’ (8 April to 18 September 2022) firmly places the automobile in this context. And by doing so, is a timely show to enliven discussions around the future of motor cars as we edge towards the post-combustion age. Or at least I hopes so. Curated by the architect Norman Foster at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the exhibition is a spirited celebration of the artistic dimension of the automobile — visually and culturally linking it to parallel worlds of painting and sculpture, architecture, photography and film. And it is a thoroughly beautiful show.

See why Norman Foster believes looking at the work and ideas of these visionary creatives will help navigate a better future. Read my full article here.

Ed Ruscha “Standard Station” (1966), seven‑colour screenprintEd Ruscha

Why we should rethink design in the age of machine intelligence

Should design as a practice undergo a complete rethink in the age of machine intelligence? The question is at the heart of a speech co-written by the designer Chris Bangle and his son Derek for a speech he gave at the end of last year on re-inventing luxury at the Whitney Museum in New York. Such discussions are the reason I write and so, needing to know more, I got in contact. (read the full interview here)

The Bangles are calling for a complete re-invention of design for the new age of transport. The argument is that it is irrational to partake in current discussions on sustainable design or the meaning of luxury when a real shift requires a fundamental rethink of design and its human creatives. ‘Design, as it is now,’ Chris says, rejects humanity, preferring in every way, shape and form the cold idea of the machine-made. We must jettison even the look of the machine age.’

As a discipline, design continues to live in the world of the machine; it’s trapped in its prime at the peak of the machine age. Then the human designer was awarded for creating in perfection like a machine. But in the age of machine intelligence, the thinking human need no longer mimic the machine. Only through liberation from this outdated concept, the argument goes, can design help shape a more interesting future.

Chris uses a dramatic example in a humble teapot, one that foreshadowed the machine age look that is still with us but was in fact designed three decades before the birth of modernism. When you listen deeply to such an object and let that guide your actions, you are no longer outside the narrative looking in, but rather part of the storytelling. He explains, ‘you begin to design diegetically, inside the narrative, then suddenly design processes become wonderful design adventures.’

I’m reminded of the work of Isamu Noguchi, one of the most lyrical artists and designers of the last century, whose life was dedicated to sculpting the world he wished to inhabit. He too advocated listening to the stone, the object, the space – seeing sculpture as a means of creating harmony between humans, industry and nature and thus improving how we live. He wrote: ‘Art for me is something which teaches human beings how to become more human.’

Chris says re-inventing design need not be a negative thing. In conclusion to his Whitney speech he says: ‘It will be the greatest creative challenge design has ever responded to. I am convinced design will succeed at redeeming itself; it will be thrilling and it happens when we stop fussing over the whats we can create and move on the why of what we should create.’

And I’m happy to enter 2022 on this positive note. Happy New Year.

See the full interview here

Flexi Pix City learns from self-driving cars

We are at a really critical time in history – more than 70% of the world’s population is migrating to cities over the next 30 years, and technology is completely altering our reality. We have to rethink how we live, work, interact, consume … I see this as a hugely exciting time. And there are some very exciting innovators and thinkers and designers working on highly progressive concepts. Here’s the latest one I came across

Insight: Paolo Pininfarina on the past and future of the famed Italian design studio

Pininfarina is responsible for some of the most enduring and exotic motor cars in design history. Founded by Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina in 1930, the carrozzeria has sketched products that have become icons for Ferrari, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo – to name a few. The studio works within the wider creative world too, designing jets, yachtstrains, buses, and other industrial products. It is also expanding its architecture practice with some outstanding projects. As the marque celebrates its 90th birthday, I used the opportunity to chat with the chair and grandson of the founder, Paolo Pininfarina, to see where he sees the company heading now and in the future. Read the full interview here