The exhibition “Pure Gold. Upcycled! Upgraded!” in the “Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe” is devoted to waste as a raw material for new and high-quality design objects. It will introduce 53 international designers with 76 pieces of work that demonstrate their special approach to waste and cheap materials. A team of distinguished curators from seven regions is responsible for the selection: for example Volker Albus from Frankfurt am Main for Europe, Bahia Shehab from Cairo for North Africa/Middle East and Zhang Jie from Beijing for East Asia. The exhibition is organised by the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and will bring the topic to 20 locations worldwide. After starting in Hamburg, the exhibition will commence on a ten-year tour of Southeast Asia, making stops in Bangkok, Yangon, Hanoi and Manila.
Discovering waste as a resource for design objects
The objects show a positive handling of waste, which is seen as a resource rather than the worthless leftovers of a consumer good. The exhibition thus focuses on several aspects of upcycling at the same time. For one, it presents ecological and ethically responsible design approaches that respond to the serious trashing of nature by humans. The exhibition also demonstrates that upcycling is not a niche phenomenon but a global movement. Consequently, it takes a look at contemporary design developments in Europe and beyond. For example, Jakob Michael Landes from Germany presents a lampshade made from multiplex, a material otherwise used for skateboards. Sahil & Sarthak from India show with their “Katran High Back Chair” how leftover material can be used to make cables to upholster seats. Dutch designer Diederik Schneemann creates baskets and very small pieces of furniture made from flip-flops. These often experimental and handmade exhibits also call into question the prevailing standardised industrial production techniques. Because many of the objects do not in any way attempt to conceal their previous existence as waste, aesthetic alternatives to uniformity and insularity are presented. Although upcycled products are becoming increasingly popular, “Pure Gold” also raises the topic of existing prejudices. For example, in many regions of Southeast Asia, upcycling is considered unhygienic. But even there, recycled wood is becoming more and more common, and mats made from recycled plastic straws are already very sought after.
Project website provides insights into production techniques
The project website http://puregold.ifa.de offers further information for visitors and design fans – not only on the works exhibited but also on the respective designers and production techniques. Short films known as “instructables” are made to show the making of an exhibit in an entertaining and deliberately simple way. Films like those for “Styrene” by Paul Cocksedge are already available to be viewed there. “Styrene” is a lamp based on white beakers with a truncated shape that can be found in every canteen or at every water dispenser. Paul Cocksedge uses these disposable beakers as building blocks for his spherical lamp. Along with this informative approach, the website and the related social media networks aim to serve as a platform where all those with an interest in this area can come together from all over the world to gather and exchange their experiences.
About the “Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe”
The “Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe” in Hamburg is one of the most influential museums for art and design in Europe. Opened in 1877, the building is located near Hamburg’s main station and houses roughly 500,000 artefacts from 4,000 years of human history – from Ancient art to contemporary art and encompassing the European, Islamic and East Asian cultural regions. The museum’s profile is a clever combination of extrusions on current and cultural historical topics. Exhibitions on fashion icons such as Coco Chanel and Alexander McQueen have taken place there, as have exhibitions on numerous design topics, tattoos and comics.
Posted on 25.10.2017