Without wanting to jinx it, it looks like summer is finally here and, aside from being generally awesome, it’s a season that yields a lot of power for creatives, both in terms of inspiration and selling power. The key to nailing summer-themed projects is to reduce the experience down into its core elements: a sense of play, fresh colours and uninhibited optimism.
Luckily there are a tonne of projects and exhibitions just launching to inspire. Take Vienna-based student Mia Meusburger and Johanna Pichlbauer’s Summer Scouts, a series of fun ultra-sensitive sensors that have been designed to pick up on good vibes in the city. See them in action in the video above.
Their purposes are wide-ranging: from accurately measuring the amount of BBQ smoke in the air or sunscreen in the swimming pool to excitable noises above a certain pitch and even bug and pollen quantities. The pair have then filtered their data into a real-time infographic that measures the joy of the city in summer.
Play is a big trend at the moment, in pretty much every creative discipline. Next week Assemble’s Brutalist Playground opens at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. Inspired by the long-marauded now-popular Brutalist architectural style – which London has in a abundance – the studio will develop a interactive installation for visitors to run wild on.
Photo: © Arch Press Archive
Assemble is a practice that should definitely be on a creative’s radar. Not only is the 18-strong collective the first architectural practice to be nominated for the Turner Prize (normally an artists-only affair) but its sense of fun and drive to work on community-minded projects really gets to the heart of what architecture – and creative projects generally – should be about, making spaces better for the people that use them.
Photo: © Arch Press Archive
Talking of fun architectural interventions, hold on tight Carsten Höller is in town. The Belgian artist’s new show Decision at the Hayward Gallery from 10 June promises to be a riot of inventive and enjoyable artistic projects. You can float around the gallery on his Flying Machines, take a nap on the robotic Roaming Beds and even exit the gallery on Isometric Slides, which shuttle you from the Hayward’s top floor to the exit. A great show for inspiration and a feat in engineering to boot.
Photo: David Levene
Playful thinking can often be most powerful when it’s not expected. For an exhibition at New York’s High Line artist Olafur Eliasson commissioned the great and the good of the architectural world to play with Lego for an installation underneath the structure. The contrast between these serious practices, like Diller Scofidio + Renfro, OMA New York, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Selldorf Architects, and the child-like Lego is a striking one. Remember, no-one is ever too professional or too famous to have some fun.
Need any more proof of this? Take a look at Blur’s new video for Ong Ong, an animated gaming-inspired spectacle that culminates in the band dressing up in huge foam ice cream cones and flea costumes. Directed by Tony Hung and featuring illustrations by Spencer Wilson and animation by Trunk Studio, the video highlights how it’s actually OK to play with Hackneyed summer tropes like ice cream, tropical fruits and palm trees. As long as you look like you’re having fun with it, it’s ok because, well, it’s summer.
In terms of colour palette, neon is a big story again this summer. The idea of connecting brights with summer projects is nothing new, but whereas before neon has been used as a highlighting element, this summer it is taking centre stage. Take this restaurant interior by Carnovsky. It is a good example and shows how the studio has taken their trademark trick of separating RGB colours using coloured light to a whole new scale. As well as this standout centrepiece, touches of Neon have been dotted about the space, from the bar tiling to the paper placemats. Neon has been used for impact, but has been balanced against rough, industrial textures, something key to anyone wanting to use a bright palette in their projects.
Block colour has also been an emerging trend in the world of fashion graduation shows, which go full tilt this month. At Westminster, one of the stand out designers was Charlotte Scott who was inspired by Constructivist Russian artists including El Lissitsky, Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin to create a menswear collection that played with shape, colour and the contrast between 2-D and 3-D forms.
Elsewhere Camille Walala played with a similar idea when she was invited by Hackney post-production agency Splice to give its building a complete makeover. Flat colour that hints at three dimensions gives the building an Op art feel; black is also key to bringing out the brights, as in the greys of both Scott’s work and the Carnovsky restaurant.
An interesting element to this project is that it was intended as an interactive installation and Splice invented friends and the local community to come and meet Walala while she worked. The result was that the project was shared a lot, and really ingratiated the agency into the neighbourhood.
Photo: Jenny Lewis
Public exhibitions needn’t just be on this scale. Anyone interested in putting on a show this summer should take a look at Mmuseumm, a cultural institution in New York. The Latest, called 4th Season, is in a 3sqm shopfront that was once a freight elevator, and features a collection of objects assembled using rapid response collecting.
The exhibition includes 20 cornflakes, 3-D printed masks developed using found DNA and temperature-controlled hens eggs which are expected to hatch during the exhibition. The result of the gallery’s location is that it is both easily accessible to the public (like Walala’s art piece) and cheap to run, meaning many more people will take in the work that if it was behind and institution’s doors. Food for thought.