Somewhat Different: Contemporary Design and the Power of Convention

Quirky, unconventional and with a dash of humour – contemporary German design will fill RMIT Gallery from 1 October – 13 November with an exhibition of reinterpreted everyday objects.

Somewhat Different: Contemporary Design and the Power of Convention showcases the work of more than 100 predominately German and European designers who have approached ‘conventional’ design tasks in a somewhat different way.

The exhibition discusses the objects in terms of function, material, construction and content references. The bookshelf, the Persian rug, the easy chair: these generic terms alone trigger associations relating to the structural, decorative and configurative aspects of the objects. This is why designers deliberately subvert their general, conventional understanding to reveal their absurdity.

The designs do not only provoke astonishment, but challenge the user to reflect on general expectations and codes of behaviour, as well as the context of firmly established notions and traditions. It is these ‘breaks with the power of convention’ that document the far-reaching changes which we currently witness in all areas of our daily lives, and which manifest themselves in key phenomena such as mobility, migration, and changing nutritional habits.

The exhibition at RMIT will feature the innovative work Screen Gown by Australian designers MATERIALBYPRODUCT and Rowan Dining, who have been invited to add their twist on unusual dual purpose objects.

Screen Gown is a screen that will transform into a dress throughout the course of the exhibition. This evolution perfectly captures the essence of Somewhat Different, showing the diversity, innovation and humour that can emerge when the usual rules of convention are deliberately subverted.

German designer and architect Volker Albus, who curated the travelling exhibition, has a reputation as one of the most important protagonists of new German design – and its intellectual mouthpiece. He has been a professor for product design at the University for Design in Karlsruhe since 1994.

Volker will be in Melbourne for a series of public design events at RMIT University which explores design dialogue between two main cultural capitals: Berlin and Melbourne.

Events will be held as part of the exhibition opening and the Berlin Dayz program, the German-Australian Art Festival.

Along with Melbourne designers Malte Wagenfeld, Susan Dimasi and Shareen Joel, Volker will take part in Form, Function or Fetish? Unpacking Contemporary Design. This public forum at RMIT Storey Hall on 5 October from 6 – 7.30 pm will be hosted by Alan Saunders from ABC ByDesign.

Developed by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IfA). Presented by RMIT Gallery and the Goethe-Institut Australien as part of Berlin Dayz, the German-Australian Arts Festival.

Curator: Volker Albus, Professor of Product Design, University for Design, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA), Stuttgart, Germany and Goethe-Institut AustralienBerlin Dayz

Andreas Bergmann, Swords into ploughshares, fences for sitting

Andreas Bergmann, Swords into ploughshares, fences for sitting, 1999, Hot-galvanized steel, polyurethane and concrete respectively, 204 x 300 x 70 cm, prototype.

Bless, Vacuum Cleaner

Bless, Vacuum Cleaner, Collection: Bless No. 17 – Design Relativators, 2002, vacuum cleaner, chair, Beech inside casing of vacuum cleaner: metal and PVC, 60 x 40 x 40. Unique specimen, prototype.

Daniel Wandres, Slumber hose

Daniel Wandres, Slumber hose, tubular air mattress, 2002, polyurethane foil, Ø 100 cm, length 220 cm, prototype.

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Curtain (algae)

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Curtain (algae), 2004, injection-moulded plastic, 16 sqm, serial product, Vitra International, Switzerland.