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SIX Cities Design Festival

17 Apr 2007

Design festival We look ahead to May’s Six Cities festival, a two-week programme of exhibitions and activities promoting the value of design to business and the public.

Design festival We look ahead to May’s Six Cities festival, a two-week programme of exhibitions and activities promoting the value of design to business and the public.

In December 2002, the Scottish Executive launched the Cities Review, a programme of research to look at the development of the country’s urban centres. The outcome was a quite substantial report which now appears to be gathering dust. However, one of the more interesting outcomes of the review was the idea of the Six Cities Festival. In 2005 the Executive made £3million available for the event, what was originally touted as a biennial festival of art and design. In its early stages, festival director Jane Ripley told the press that Six Cities’ purpose was to promote an exchange of ideas about architecture, engineering, housing and graphics. The main drive was to produce roving exhibitions which would allow each Scottish city to promote itself internationally and engage in a dialogue with other cities. When Ripley suddenly left the post, Stuart MacDonald, the director of The Lighthouse, took direct control of the project. The agenda shifted to coincide more closely with the agenda promoted by the Design Council, of which he was a member. The report, written by George Cox, chair of the Design Council, on the significance of the creative industries for the UK economy now provides the intellectual framework for Six Cities. Last year, the festival’s objective was, according to an interview with MacDonald in Scotland on Sunday, to “plug Scotland into the international design and business network”. The festival’s current mission statement is to encourage Scottish businesses to take design more seriously, to promote Scottish talent and to engage the public in a discussion about design by demonstrating how it affects many aspects of their lives. Whether the festival will be repeated in 2009 is not yet clear. As a result of this rather erratic infancy – or perhaps because such festivals are by their very nature eclectic – the programme for the first festival is a little disparate. The structure is built around a programme of major exhibitions, to which has been added a series of events and projects. Several existing projects have also been drawn together under the Six Cites umbrella. The programme highlights include a visit by George Cox who will speak in both Edinburgh and Glasgow about the central role of design in the development of high–value businesses. He will be followed by a number leading designers giving presentations of their work. In addition, local designers and architects will be working on live projects. In Glasgow teams of architects are developing ideas for city improvements generated by the public. In Inverness the preparation work for the Highland Housing Fair 2009 will provide a central component of the activities. The highlight of the exhibition programme will be The Scottish Show 07 which will look at the work of 30 leading Scottish designers. The first show in 2004 was used to showcase the work of leading Scottish designers in Milan and London. The Scottish Show 07 will take over all the galleries and circulation spaces in The Lighthouse and will include fashion and textiles, as well as homes and interiors, product, graphics and new media design. Featured designers include Timorous Beasties, NORD, Graphical House and Olanik. Six of the designers have also been commissioned by The Lighthouse to produce limited edition souvenirs. Some might question why the festival has imported a ‘job–lot’ of exhibitions from the Vitra Museum, when the budget and timescale allowed for the curation of more substantial Scottish exhibitions, but Vitra is one of the few European institutions producing serious travelling exhibitions. The museum seems to have cornered the market in producing exhibitions that are aimed at the general public and suggest a connection between everyday experiences and design. As part of the programme, Prospect is supporting a debate on the future of the city on Thursday 24 May at The Lighthouse. The debate will be led by a leading artist, sociologist and architect. For information on the Six Cities Design Festival visit www.six– DUNDEE 26 April to 24 June: Peacocks Among The Ruins, Dundee Contemporary Arts Peacocks Among The Ruins sees the celebrated Glasgow design duo Timorous Beasties co–curating a major exhibition in association with Dundee Contemporary Arts, looking at flora and fauna in interiors. From the toiles de Jouy produced in pre–revolutionary France, through to the textiles of William Morris and Josef Franck, and the classic modernist villa architecture of the mid–20th century – in which floor–to–ceiling windows meant the exterior landscape was effectively co–opted as interior backdrop – the natural world has had a defining role in interior design. Timorous Beasties will bring their extensive knowledge and experience to the project, selecting and featuring the most influential and innovative designs alongside their own favourites. ABERDEEN 17 May to 12 August: Extreme North, Aberdeen Art Gallery Extreme North will provide a unique opportunity to discover innovative and functional design adapted to the extreme conditions and harsh climate of the far north. Although some objects may look familiar, the experimental concepts and prototypes will not fail to capture the visitor’s imagination. Centred around 12 themes, the many artefacts, images and texts show there is so much more to good Norwegian design than an attractive visual appearance. INVERNESS May to June: New, Old, Green, Castle Wynd Inverness New, Old, Green is a new version of an exhibition created by the Six Cities Design Festival in association with the Museum of Finnish Architecture, exploring sustainability in housing. The exhibition looks at sustainable development in relation to architecture, presenting information and experiences in words, pictures, spaces and structures. Schoolchildren’s ideas are paralleled with the views of professional architects, with the visual narrative proceeding from large to small: from landscape and community to individual buildings, interiors and details. Juxtaposed with small–scale models are large, three–dimensional constructions made of durable and recyclable materials, which visitors are invited to enter and experience. NORD and SUST will develop and expand the exhibition to reflect issues relating to the Highlands, and will incorporate into the exhibition proposals submitted by architects for sustainable housing to be commissioned by the Highland Housing Fair. GLASGOW 14 April to 27 May: Airworld, Tramway Airworld is a massive Vitra Design Museum exhibition looking at architecture and design in air travel from the early days of flight through to the 21st century. From single–engine propeller planes to modern jumbo jets accommodating hundreds of passengers, the evolution of the aeroplane surpasses the development of any other means of transportation. Prominent designers have created new logos, cabin interiors, tableware for onboard service and uniforms – developing in the process some of the very first, comprehensive corporate identities. Young people dreamed of a career as a pilot or stewardess, and renowned designers have been commissioned to create their wardrobes. The show also looks at airport architecture, including Eero Saarinen’s organically shaped terminal of poured concrete for TWA at JFK Airport in New York, and Vilhelm Lauritzen’s elegant, glazed airport facility in Copenhagen. STIRLING May to June: Dimensions of Design, Cowanes Hospital Hall The chair has assumed a key role in the history of design as an experimental object, as the driving force behind new developments and as an icon. It has long since moved on from being an everyday, utilitarian object to attain the status of an artform. Since 1992, the Vitra Design Museum has been producing miniatures of classic chairs which are keenly collected. For Dimensions of Design, the museum has created 100 miniatures of chairs dating from 1800 to the 1990s, all of which are exact 1:6 replicas of the originals. Together they provide a fascinating introduction to the humble item of furniture that has gone on to produce some of the great design icons of our times – from Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1903 Hill House Chair through Marcel Breuer’s groundbreaking Wassily Chair, the Eames Lounger and chairs by Jacobson, Panton and Nelson to Philippe Starke’s Louis 20 and Jasper Morrison’s Ply Chair. EDINBURGH 4 April to 10 June: Living in Motion, City Arts Centre Living in Motion, curated by Vitra Design Museum, examines the pursuit of flexible modes of living, looking back upon an age–old tradition and spanning a wide variety of cultures from early European stair ladders and Uzbek yurts, to North African tents and South American hammocks. The rapidly changing living conditions and technical advances in today’s society have greatly increased the relevance of domestic flexibility. Our place of residence, work location, and lifestyle are subject to greater variation than ever before, and the miniaturisation of electronic components has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Living in Motion features around 150 objects as well as films and more than 500 illustrations including Mathieu Mategot’s Tea Wagon (1950–55), Joe Colombo’s Mini Kitchen, a 19th–century portable desk; a model of an Asian houseboat; Buckminster Fuller’s Wichita House, and Shigeru Ban’s Furniture House.

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