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    MUT Design clads modular Valencia Pavilion in thousands of wooden scales

    Valencia studio MUT Design has designed five modular pavilions clad in scales made from leftover wood for a travelling exhibition in Spain.The pavilions will showcase work by 50 designers in five different sections to celebrate Valencia’s title of World Design Capital for 2022.
    Each section – design and art, the circular economy, industry and craftsmanship, technology and the transformative economy – is housed within its own mini pavilion formed from two semi-cylinders.

    Top image: the exhibition is broken down into five mini-pavilions. Above: each is formed from two semi-cylinders

    These consist of four metre-high curved walls, which can be placed separately or together to create a labyrinth of winding corridors and secluded alcoves.
    Inside, the units’ pinewood frame and construction are laid bare, while the convex exterior is clad in hundreds of small, overlapping wooden fins, adding up to around 220,000 across all five pavilions.

    The units are arranged to form a labyrinth of corridors and alcoves
    The wood was originally meant to be turned into the parade floats that are ceremonially burned as part of Valencia’s historic Fallas festival every March, but the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
    Instead, the wood was used for this installation, which is on view as part of the Madrid Design Festival until 14 March before becoming a travelling exhibition.

    The pinewood frame is left exposed inside the pavilions
    “Here in Valencia, we have a lot of traditional wood ateliers that create works for the Fallas festival,” MUT Design co-founder Alberto Sánchez told Dezeen.
    “But it was cancelled due to the pandemic and a lot of materials were left on the shelf. So we decided to collaborate with one of the ateliers to give a new life to the wood and create some work for the builders.”

    The pavilions are clad in wooden scales
    Each scale was handmade by local woodworker Manolo García and trimmed to three standard sizes of 14, 16 and 18 centimetres. These were then lined up and alternated to create a textured surface not dissimilar to tree bark.
    “We wanted to bring together tradition and the avant-garde while recovering something that is really ours – deeply rooted in our city,” Sánchez explained.
    In particular, the studio drew on natural textures found in the Albufera National Park just south of Valencia, as well as on the thatched roofs of traditional houses known as barracas.

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    Breaking each pavilion down into two semi-cylinders allows the individual units to be combined into “infinite compositions” that can be adapted to different spaces for the travelling exhibition.
    “Because it is a travelling exhibition, we want to create one-of-a-kind experiences in each of the several places it will be visiting,” Sánchez added.
    The units were also designed to be taken apart into separate pieces, which can be stacked for ease of transport.

    Each scale was handmade by Manolo García
    Contributors to the exhibition include designer Jaime Hayon, brands Andreu World and Expormim, and a number of emerging studios showing projects including self-ventilating graphene facades and homeware made from olive pits.
    “We wanted to bring to Madrid a different selection of projects that are leading a silent transformation of society,” explained Xavi Calvo, director of World Design Capital Valencia 2022.

    Displays are fixed to the inside of the pavilions
    MUT Design has previously collaborated with Expormim to create a chair modelled on the shape of a flower petal and an outdoor rug made from braided ropes, which were exhibited at the products fair of Dezeen’s Virtual Design Festival.
    Photography is by Ernesto Sampons.
    Valencia Pavilion – The Future is Design is on view at the Fernán Gómez Cultural Centre as part of the Madrid Design Festival until 14 March 2021. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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  • Tom Postma Design suspends 1,400 porcelain plates in gold-gilded room at Fondazione Prada

    A Fondazione Prada exhibition about Chinese export porcelain, designed by Dutch firm Tom Postma Design, was housed within three prefabricated timber volumes clad in velvet and real gold leaf.From January to September 2020, The Porcelain Room installation was staged in one large exhibition space in the OMA-designed Torre annexe.
    The Porcelain Room has been shortlisted for this year’s Dezeen Award in the exhibition design category.

    Above: two of the timber volumes were clad in velvet and one in gold leaf. Top image: the final, golden room housed 1,400 porcelain plates
    Visitors passed through the walk-through volumes within it, tracing the history and legacy of Chinese porcelain in Europe and the Middle East.

    The installation progressed in chronological order, showcasing porcelain pieces dating back to the arrival of the Portuguese in south China in the early 16th century, all the way up to the 19th century.
    After passing through the first two rooms, the climactic highlight of the show was the final, gold-gilded room. Here, 1,400 of the approximately 1,700 porcelain pieces in the exhibition were suspended from the walls and ceiling.

    Porcelain pieces were suspended from the walls and ceiling of the Golden Porcelain Room
    This offered a modern reimagining of the porcelain rooms found in European palaces and aristocratic houses of the time, such as the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin and the Santos Palace in Lisbon.
    Then, China plates and other tableware pieces were used as decorative rather than functional items, arranged into lavish displays that covered most of the visible surfaces including the walls and sometimes even the ceiling like three-dimensional wallpaper.

    The room was a modern interpretation of the royal and aristocratic porcelain rooms of the time
    “These porcelain rooms were the first examples of people using objects designed for a purpose, usually dishes intended for the table, in a completely different way as pieces of a decorative puzzle,” said Jorge Welsh, who curated the exhibition alongside Luísa Vinhais.
    “To bring the original concept into a contemporary context, we designed a dense, abstract pattern in which each piece of porcelain is used rather as if it were a pigment, chosen for its colour and shape, to create a kind of mural that engulfs the exhibition space.”

    Black display cases housed rare made-to-order pieces in the first room
    In contrast to this, the first two volumes were much more muted, covered inside and out in deep brown velvet.
    The introductory room housed some of the first porcelain editions, which were made-to-order for Portuguese and Spanish clients in the 16th and 17th century.
    Of the approximately 150 pieces of this type that remain in the world according to Welsh, 53 were displayed here, set against a deep black backdrop and illuminated by spotlights to allow their rarity to speak for itself.

    The second room showcased tableware shaped like animals, vegetables and fruit
    The second room took the form of a 12-metre long corridor, flanked by display cases on either side that contained later tableware designs, shaped like different animals, vegetables and fruit to cater to Western tastes.
    This passageway led the way into the golden room, with a layout designed in collaboration Welsh and Vinhais, who also co-founded the Jorge Welsh Works of Art gallery.

    The second room acted as a corridor leading into the last
    Using cutouts of each of the hundreds of plates, they created a scale model of the room, which was then transferred into a digital drawing by Tom Postma Design.
    “We checked every single plate and assigned it a unique code, indexing its display position, diameter, typology, the distance from the wall and other data,” Paride Piccinini, an architectural engineer at Tom Postma Design, told Dezeen.
    “Then we attached a life-sized print out of the drawing to the walls in order to drill the supports in exactly the right positions.”

    Welsh and Vinhais designed the pattern using a scale model
    This allowed the team to develop an unobtrusive system of fixings and lighting that kept the overall design clean and minimal.
    “This immersive environment needs effective lighting to able to reach all the pieces in all directions, without blinding the visitors or showing the source of light,” said Piccinini.
    “This issue has been solved with a system of diffused and hidden spotlights, embedded into the walls, the ceiling, the floor and the glass balustrade system.”

    Tom Postma Design developed the reuseable lighting and supports in the Golden Porcelain Room
    The gold gilding, which took a group of artisans five days to apply to the interior and exterior of the volume leaf by leaf, mirrored the colours of the porcelain and reflected light onto the plates from behind.

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    Aside from the smallest spotlights, the lighting system was developed from reused fixtures from Fondozione Prada’s existing supply. The whole installation was designed to be disassembled and used again.

    Underneath the cladding, the installation consists of modular timber panels
    “The installation is entirely built from timber, with modular panels that can be stored and reused for future exhibitions,” said Piccinini.
    “The metallic supports for the plates, the lighting system, shelves and display cases can also be reused for a similar installation.”
    Other projects nominated for Dezeen Awards include a memorial filled with items that belonged to victims of gun violence and ĒTER’s multi-sensory design for an exhibition about ASMR at ArkDes.
    Photography is by Mark Niedermann.

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  • Isometric creates toolkit for safely reopening museums following the pandemic

    Brooklyn design firm Isometric Studio has devised a set of guidelines to help museums reopen safely following coronavirus, including adding signage to encourage social distancing and using masks as entry tickets. Toolkit for Museum Reopening: Design Strategies and Considerations outlines design strategies museums can use to prevent the spread of infection. “Audiences are seeking constructive […] More

  • Lorem Ipsum's experience design shows the “power of dramatic narratives”

    VDF studio profiles: Lorem Ipsum is a creative studio that crafts exhibitions and experiential installations, such as an audiovisual recreation of an airstrike, that fully immerse visitors in a story. Since being founded in New York in 2000, the company has expanded to include London and Moskow offices where designers and architects, writers and filmmakers […] More

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    SO-IL designs exhibition to showcase patchwork boro fabrics

    New York architecture firm SO-IL has designed an exhibition to present a Japanese handicraft that uses remnants of hemp fabric. SO-IL created the Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics exhibition for New York’s Japan Society. It showcases the boro textiles practice that originated in Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries when cold climate conditions made growing cotton […] More