Wallpaper* doesn't have a reliable crystal ball. But if we did it would probably be designed by Swarovski, and it would no doubt unveil a catalogue of works from a new exhibition at Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum.
'Dream Out Loud: Designing for Tomorrow's Demands' questions what the next generation will need and desire. The extensive group show – featuring no less than 27 emerging and established designers – is an eclectic romp through their REM worlds, allowing us privileged access to their wildest design dreams.
The emphasis is on conceptualisation rather than immediate functionality. Curator Lennart Booij explains, 'Idealism is not new to design, but now we’re seeing a change of emphasis: the focus has shifted from the design object to the idea itself.' This new wave of 'social design' is abundantly present throughout the gallery – in Pieter Stoutjesdijk's prototype self-building house, for instance. He dreamt up the concept in response to the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010, particularly for residences in Port au Prince. The home is made from 122 'Eco boards' that can be produced locally and sustainably from grass, reeds or pruning chips, while a bowl-shaped roof collects rainwater.
Other featured projects are physically smaller, but pack an equally powerful punch; like Studio Formafantasma's recreation of their 2014 installation De Natura Fossilium, documenting two years' worth of research into bio-based polymer packaging, which reconstitutes lava into decorative glass.
The exhibition goes on to address a range of environmental and socio-politcal issues. Even the projects that seem like they're created for pure aesthetics comment on larger global issues. We Make Carpets' vivid tapestry of cocktail umbrellas, for instance, recognises the creative potential of things we use once, then needlessly throw away.
Despite the sobriety and immediacy of the global problems addressed by the exhibition, one leaves with a sense of hope. Each project is optimistic and each designer determined. It's exciting to see. Booij says of these encouraging works, 'It's all about bringing the seemingly impossible a step closer to reality. Social design responds to complex societal issues. And that’s of enormous relevance.'