The Kunstgewerbemuseum curates the German contribution to the London Design Biennale 2021 under the title "Spoon Archaeology"

25 May 2021

The Kunstgewerbemuseum curates the German contribution to the London Design Biennale 2021 under the title "Spoon Archaeology"

With the consumption-critical project "Spoon Archaeology” the Kunstgewerbemuseum of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) is participating in this year's London Design Biennale 2021. Under the artistic directorship of British artist and stage designer Es Devlin, the third Biennale is responding to the dramatic impact of the pandemic by questioning: Can we design a better world?

The German Pavilion is curated by Thomas A. Geisler, the director of the Kunstgewerbemuseum  and initiator of the newly established Design Campus at Pillnitz Palace & Park and designed by Kai Linke and Peter Eckart. The Biennale will take place at Somerset House in London from June 1 to 27, 2021, accompanied by an extensive online program that is dedicated to addressing the issues of sustainable living from a global perspective.

The basis of the installation is the comprehensive collection of disposable cutlery made of plastic and other materials, which the designers have collected and studied over many years. Plastic cutlery is a global phenomenon and also a global problem. As disposable products, they are mass-produced, cheap, easy to transport and can be disposed of just as easily as they have been used. Ultimately, they are a symbol of our globalized logistics and throwaway culture.

Staged as archaeological remnants, curiosities, and objects of fascination they are contemporary witnesses of an era that has just ended and provide information about the state of the global consumer society. Films and infographics visualize the research into alternatives to plastic tableware. In addition, production cycles and material flows as well as cultural anthropological aspects of eating habits are examined.

One important component of the installation is the little-known documentary "Banana Leaf" (1972) by the North American designer-couple Ray and Charles Eames from their archives, which celebrates the reduction of tableware to a simple banana leaf as the highest level of food culture in South India. The installation thus raises sweeping questions concerning the tensions between design and the sustainable use of resources.

The idea for the German contribution to the Biennale stems from the ban on plastic cutlery in the European Union, which will come into effect on July 3, 2021. Disposable cutlery produced in the previous decades will thereby become artifacts of our recent past. As displayed objects, cutlery does not only convey information on their usage or on different cultures, but moreover provide conclusions about dishes, which are part of optimizing food intake, too. Eating tools eventually adapt to the developments of human life and are thus significant factors in our table and dining culture as well as in the history of technology.

Thomas A. Geisler, Director of the Kunstgewerbemuseum: "Design is a willing accomplice in the implementation of lifestyles that we are taking for granted. The climate crisis and the pandemic teach us to change our habits, to listen to our intuition and to gain empathy in order to resonate with the environment. With an understanding of complex connections, design can create awareness and help us tackle outdated systems."

With his office unit-design in Frankfurt and Bern, designer Peter Eckart creates design projects for companies and public institutions. He is professor for integrating design with a focus on sustainability and mobility at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach. In 2014, he founded the Design Institute for Mobility and Logistics with Georg Bertsch and Kai Vöckler and works in the interdisciplinary LOEWE Research Association for Infrastructure - Design - Society on questions of future environmentally friendly mobility.

With his studio Kai Linke, founded in 2009, the designer works in the interdisciplinary fields of product and exhibition design, art direction, innovation-consulting and architectural collaborations. Since 2015, Linke has been teaching at the Kunsthochschule Kassel in the product design department and published the book Kai Linke in Japan in 2019.

Founded in 2016 by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE, the London Design Biennale promotes international collaboration and the global role of design through exhibitions and installations. This year's theme is "Resonance" and explores the consequences of design and production.

Further contributors to the realization of the Biennale Pavilion: Marlene Bruch, Luise Hornbach, Daniel Rese (installation), Robin Benito, Julie Gaston (film) and Liun Kim (printmaking).

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