The exhibition “new olds. Design between Tradition and Innovation” is the latest in a series of design exhibitions in which the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V. (ifa) focuses on specific trends in design. “new olds” now presents more than sixty exhibits that explore design between tradition and innovation. The great variety and topicality of the many approaches are bundles around the themes material, construction, configuration, production, and traditional use. Forty-five designers and design teams from Germany, other European countries and the USA, as well as several Chinese designers enter here into an intensive dialogue, and the international nature of the show is further emphasized by its world tour with its connections to the local cultures on site.
Design has a short and highly successful history in the west. It quickly became a key feature of a collective understanding of culture, and is correspondingly appreciated and communicated. Outside the western hemisphere too design is gaining significance, and not just as a profession. What are seen as successful idioms are copied and varied, but many of the motifs that are sold as “new” actually derive from a historical context and formal idiom, and are self-contained products of one country or culture, representing a new interpretation of traditional forms. This exhibition, “new olds”, looks at aspects of the “new” and the “old” in a range of objects and groups of objects, discussing differences and new common ground. Designers today are taking a keen interest in tradition in both a strategic and formal and aesthetic sense-in recycling and redesign, by transforming design classics and using traditional methods for new materials.
The “new olds” exhibition aims to show the international and complex nature of this discourse in contemporary design in three ways. Firstly, we invite the general public to enjoy the visual and sensual presentation of the exhibits. Secondly, the accompanying events and education programme will focus on dialogue in workshops that are tailored to each location of the exhibition tour, and the design experts working there. The third element is documentation of the exhibition in a blog, showing the work of local designers.
I would like to thank Art Museum of GAFA and Goethe-Institut(China) for their strong support for this exhibition, thank more for the works provided by Chinese designers. They will further facilitate dialogue and the exchange of ideas on contemporary theory and design practice in a variety of nations and cultures.