Berlin-based architect, product designer and installation artist, Jurgen Mayer H. has introduced himself to me, and other fifty or so members of the audience, during the Belgrade Design Week in May 2009. The 3 day conference was themed around “Speed 2” focusing on the rapid pace of our time changing the world, with speakers such as Tony Chambers from Wallpaper, architects Wolf D. Prix and Ben Van Berkel, directors of branding and advertising studio POKE London and Airside. Even though most of them were worthy professionals with many accomplishments under their belts, not all were good speakers. By the time Mayer took the podium, I was dozing off, but not for long. Starting with his composure and straight to the point but nevertheless enticing way of speaking, his conceptual approach to designing for architecture and the use of new materials, to the slides that were, one after another showcasing a fascinating body of work, I was seduced. He began his speach by introducing his creative process and the things that inspired him, specifically the data protection patterns found on the inside of a security envelope. For Mayer, these designs created solely to hide meaning, raised questions about what is in the front and what is behind, the same questions that concern him as an architect. Imagine living in a building inspired by what you thought were insignificant squiggles, those you looked at hundreds of times right before you tore them up and threw them away. In contrast to your own behavior, Mayer collected designs from the secured envelopes over the years, and for his first solo museum show at SFMOMA—Patterns of Speculation: J. Mayer H., enlarged the patterns to fill the space, creating what he calls an “information mist”. A visitor is transformed from a mere observer to a participant enveloped in the structure, with the projections that pulsate, and the soundtrack in the background. Mayer explained that the show was “about the different possibilities of how to experience space”.
New technology plays a big part in Mayer’s work. He sees it as “a hidden force” and “a support system” to his ideas. It often brings an element of surprise, like walking through an artificial rain canopy and witnessing a series of light sculptures that register the wind movements when entering Stuttgart’s town hall, “stadt.haus”, or having to touch temperature-sensitive surfaces to see a temporary imprint in an exhibition In Heat, at Henry Urbach Architecture in New York. Other times, new technology is used by ways of experimenting with the latest conventions in construction, and the use of new materials, such as the polyurethane-coated wood he used for Metropol Parasol plaza project in Seville. Mayer is also an enthusiastic collaborator, one who believes “the intelligence lies in the chemistry of the team”, the 15 staffers currently employed at his studio.
Be it his ability to imagine three-dimensional spaces out of random two-dimensional patterns, his longing to experiment with space and employ latest interactive and otherwise new technologies, or his notion to rethink conventions, Mayer is what I would regard as a true creative, an individual that may inspire you to take risks and go places you never imagined possible.
Rankefod is an evolutionary solo dance performance by a Danish performer and choreographer Kitt Johnson. Rankefod focuses on uncovering the body’s evolutionary memory beyond its physical reality. Johnson tells a fascinating story through her sublime body control, stage effects and her unique sense for space.
Photography by Per Morten Abrahamsen.
Gingko is an outdoor performance produced by antagon theaterACTion. The production lends its name from the gingko tree that sprouted after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Referencing the environmental catastrophe of our time with natural resources in decline and malnutrition, starvation and lack of drinking water becoming the cause of death for many, Gingko is a critique of those in power who resort to exploitation and war as means to gain wealth and offset their deficits. Using a metaphor of the ginkgo tree that breathed life after the catastrophic event, Gingko suggests that there is a seed of hope in each of us, rooted deep inside each of our soul’s that will give us the patience, strength and wisdom to affirm dignity of life and to respect others and the environment we live in.
antagon theaterACTion is an independent performance theatre of the modern times founded by Bernhard Bub in 1990. The group travels to different cities across the world, offering their audiences thought-provoking performances that incorporate acrobatics and improvisation, live music and dancing on stilts in sculptural stage settings.
Germany based design duo, Carsten and Lenka Rundholz have been crafting innovative clothing for a confident, intelligent woman since their debut collection in 1993. The look for studio Rundholz’s Autumn/Winter 2010/11 collection is raw: distressed fabrics with raggedy hems all in monochrome black or gray.
Wolfgang Weingart is a graphic designer and typographer, born in Germany. He fathered New Wave, an experimental movement in graphic design that emerged in the late 60′s, partly as a reaction to the uniformity of ’Swiss Style’. Using ‘Swiss Typography’ as a starting point, Weingart exploited phototypesetting and the technology of film to create work that was radically different at the time.