BERLIN — Berlin might have a hot music scene right now, but its design industry has a ways to go.
In a creative free-for-all in a city known for its penniless artists, more than 100 participants in the Design Mai festival decided what, when, how and where to show their works, considering public commissions, industrial clients and private patrons are few and far between in Berlin.
A potpourri of projects — some realized, others in prototype form — underscored the problem-solving orientation of much Berlin design, as seen in an exhibit at the Vitra Design Museum that kicked off the festival called “Design Berlin: New Projects for a Changing City.” On the other hand, the exhibit did little to push forward the notion of what defines “Berlin style,” as Mateo Kries, the museum director, said the breadth of submissions defied explanation.
For instance, it would be difficult to compare Robert Knossalla’s aluminum and acrylic glass water taxi with Realities United’s hang-out-the-window lounge chair — an aluminum chaise that can be installed on a girder inside one’s apartment for Berliners lacking balconies.
At least flexibility is an identifiable feature of Berlin design, as seen in Fuchs + Funke’s pack-it-up-and-take-it-with-you pillow chair, Maxi Jahn’s steel origami cut-and-fold furniture or Thorsten Franck’s “build-in-a-minute” furniture collection for urban nomads. Unusual materials also turned up everywhere. There were stone throw rugs from Yoraco Gonzalez and soft gel chairs by Studio Aisslinger. Another Design Mai material highlight: Studio Aisslinger’s Loft Cubes, temporary living units to place on rooftops for out-of-town guests.
“For a lot of designers involved, Design Mai was a chance to play with ideas that never would have seen the light of day otherwise,” said Tory Lichterman, an architect involved with the Loft Cubes project. “And just to have some fun.”
To wit, Berlin fashion designers and consultants Next Guru Now hung up seven years worth of restroom photos taken at fashion events and fairs around the world. Berlin designers Adam & Harbourth offered bags shaped like Swiss Army knives and Mined Work playfully tested reality with their life-size trompe-l’oeil bookshelves, set up in various Berlin galleries and bookstores.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast