Thursday, January 8, 2009

“Somewhat Different”: IFA Exhibition arrives from Germany

Contemporary Design and the Power of Convention: “Somewhat Different”

Prof M P Ranjan’s papers

Image 1: Fence Bench designed by Andreas Bergmann which arrived as part of the “Somewhat Different” exhibit after unloading from trucks at the Design Gallery at NID. Volker Albus, designer and curator of the exhibition is seated in the middle with his colleagues with Dimple Soni, NID Faculty standing besides while the task of unloading and setting up is in progress.

“Somewhat Different”, an exhibition organized by IFA – Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations in Germany opens later this week in NID. The trucks arrived over the weekend and everyone was curious to see a long row of six trucks each with a huge container as its load standing at NID for a couple of days. Yesterday the Germans arrived and the containers wee opened and out came the boxes in very systematic German design and each box was carefully labeled and carefully unpacked and put away in the car park to be used again when the exhibit had to be repacked for further shipment. “Somewhat Different” is the theme of the exhibition and in all the curator, Volker Albus, has selected forty-seven individual designers and design studios from Germany and along with this he has included the work of twenty other designers based in several European cities. These designs have been selected for their being a slight twist away from the conventional and not for their being unnaturally different! A subtle twist brings all the difference, and this he claims is a new trend for good design from Europe today. The exhibit opens in a few days from now and I will make a more detailed post when the exhibit is formally announced and made open to the public. Those interested in knowing more can contact the Corporate Communications at NID by email at

Image 2: Rows of trucks with container load filled with exhibit materials and the unloading and unpacking sequence at NID near the Design Gallery and the BMW (Cafe, Behind the Metal Workshop – BMW – as named by the NID students)

The systematic manner in which the unpacking and handling of the cases was a lesson in logistics for those students and faculty who wished to stay informed. Some were curious and came out with their cameras while others failed to turn up on the BMW side of the campus and may have missed the event altogether. There is always something interesting happening on campus and we have learned to stay curious and learn as we go along. The open electives in now on across the campus and several visiting faculty are also involved in conducting these workshops. I will come back with more about this particular exhibit and the “Swords into Ploughshares - Fences to Sit” by Andreas Bergmann is just one of the numerous designed objects that have arrived to stir up a debate about trends, relevance and sustainability, I hope. With Satyam having shown us yesterday how wrongly a sacred word can be used and abused as a slogan for a company that has now become an antithesis for the concept itself, perhaps cultural and commercial expressions in materials too have an element of honesty that needs to be appreciated and recognized. More, as we examine the exhibit in it’s setting at NID next week.

The “Somewhat Different” exhibition will be open at NID from 16 January 2009 to the 7 February 2009 after which it will travel to the Lalit Kala Akademy, New Delhi and be on display from 10 May 2009 to 30 May 2009. Both these exhibits are being coordinated by the Goethe-Institute in Mumbai and New Delhi respectively.

Prof M P Ranjan’s papers

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