We’ve scoured the globe to find the most captivating, uncanny and memorable design exhibitions to see in 2018; from retrospectives and major blockbusters to thematic exhibitions and solo shows. So here’s our list of must-see design events this month...

Ron Arad: Yes to the Uncommon! at Vitra Design Museum

Big Easy chair by Ron Arad

The maverick designer’s energy fills the Vitra Schaudepot’s spaces in Switzerland this summer. This retrospective includes early works from the 1980s and more recent experimentations, exploring in particular the areas of Arad’s career that cross the boundaries between art, sculpture and design. From his expressive ‘Big Easy’ chair from 1988 (pictured) to the playful 1993 ‘Bookworm’ shelf, it’s clear that Arad’s experimental approach and preference for raw materials like steel and concrete have conspired to create unexpected forms that bridge both art and design, forging a path that treads on some uncommon ground. Courtesy Ron Arad Associates

Until 14 October; Vitra Design Museum, Charles-Eames-Str. 2 D-79576 Weil am Rhein, Basel

Achille Castiglioni 100 at Luminaire Chicago

Luminaire celebrates 100 years of Achille Castiglioni in Chicago

American design retailer Luminaire is one of the many brands celebrating 100 years of the Italian designer Achille Castiglioni with an exhibition that launched during NeoCon fair in Chicago. The installation, titled Achille Castiglioni 100, is framed by a studio-like setting intended to reflect Castiglioni’s former Milan workspace and explore the Italian designer’s most iconic pieces as well as his creative processes. On show until mid-July, the exhibition captures the designer’s famous motto, ‘design demands observation,’ presenting his playful, yet practical pieces that express a love of paradoxes. A number of pieces are deconstructed in the show to reveal their stories and capitalise on Castiglioni’s process of creation. Wth a display that includes a collection of the designer’s most innovative pieces from renowned manufacturers Flos and Zanotta and accessories from Alessi, this centennial celebration is not to be missed.

Until 31 July; Luminaire Chicago, 301 West Superior Chicago, IL 6065

Hide & Seek by Maarten Baas at Design Museum Ghent

HIDE & SEEK by Maartan Baas

The Belgian design museum presents the first major solo exhibition celebrating influential Dutch designer Maarten Baas. With pieces from the last 15 years of the designer’s life, the exhibition depicts the versatile and rebellious nature of Baas’ work. The show dates back to his 2002 graduation project ‘Smoke’, his 2006 ‘Clay’ series, and his 2009 clock series, ‘Real Time’, which combines theatre, film, art and design.

More recent efforts feature too, like the Salone del Mobile come-back series of moving objects, ‘Baas is in Town’ from 2014, and installation piece ‘May I have your attention please?’ from Close Parity from 2017. The exhibition explores Baas’ interdisciplinary and artistic approach to design, understanding that as he is ‘impossible to pin down, one must seek to find meaning hiding somewhere between reason and emotion, nature and culture, freedom and limitations.’ The travelling showcase has previously appeared at the Groninger Museum and will grace Design Museum Holon later this year. Writer: Nurit Chinn

Until 30 September; Design Museum Gent, Jan Breydelstraat 5, 9000 Ghent

The Strong Collection at Vitsœ, Leamington Spa

Tom Strong collection Vitsoe Leamington Spa

Vitsoe opened its elegant new HQ last year in Leamington Spa, a utopian work space that celebrates the brand’s progressive design past, merging it with its exciting future. The space nods to the brand’s history with an archive gallery area which is currently home to a new exhibition of Tom Strong’s Braun collection. Last year saw Vitsœ obtain the Connecticut-born graphic designer’s 250-piece collection, and showcase these in its New York and London stores. ‘It was almost by chance, talking to the Vitsœ team about my Braun collection that they mentioned how it could help with their mission to educate the next generation of design students if it was included in their archive at their new Leamington Spa HQ,’ Strong muses. The vast collection includes the 1976 ‘KF21’ coffee maker and rarer pieces like 1962 ‘T1000’ radio.

By appointment only; Old Warwick Road, Royal Leamington Spa, CV31 3NT, United Kingdom

‘Osvaldo Borsani: Repertorio’ at Dimore Gallery, Milan

 

‘Martin Szekely: Construction’ at The Musée des Arts Décoratifs et du Design, Bordeaux

Martin Szekely at Madd Bordeaux

Exhibited inside a newly converted former jail at the museum, ‘Construction’ presents 40 important pieces created between 1981 and 2018 by French designer Martin Szekely. A seminal figure of his generation, Szekely was born in 1956 and studied at the École Boulle and École Estienne. Over the years, Szekely has become known for his pure and minimal furniture, and a refined sensibility for materials and their construction. His most recent gallery collaborations include Pierre Marie Giraud in Brussels and Salon 94 in New York. Curated by Constance Rubini, this recent show presents a diverse selection of objects together with the music of American composer Morton Feldman, allowing visitors to create connection between visual, sound and tactile elements of the showcase. Writer: Adam Štěch

Until16 September; Madd Bourdeaux, 39 Rue Bouffard, 33000 Bordeaux, France

Poème Brut at Design Museum Gent

Works by the likes of Max Lamb, Nendo, Ben Storms and Olivier van Herpt come together for Design Museum Ghent’s exploration of contemporary craft. Curated by Siegrid Demyttenaere and atelier lachaert dhanis, Poème Brut aims to showcase the eclectic selection of designers as alchemists and experimenters with unique materials. From Formafantasma’s dried flour tableware and Studio Swine’s human hair objects, to the ‘Metal Rock’ collection by Michael Young and Studio Furthermore’s ceramic foam structures, the dynamic designs elegantly pepper the 18th-century mansion for an inspiring look at modern making techniques. Photography: Filip Dujardin

Until 2 September; Design Museum Gent, Jan Breydelstraat 5, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

‘Coded Nature’ by Studio Drift at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

The Amsterdam-based studio (made up of Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn) has its biggest stage yet with this inaugural solo show. Delving into the duo’s ingenious use of technology to create art and design installations, the show includes greatest hits like light sculpture Fragile Future and Drifter, plus a new installation titled Elementism for a captivating display. ‘One of our missions is to become a serious partner in important technological developments. We cannot approach it from a purely technical point of view. We have to approach from an intuitive and emotional perspective. After millions of years being human beings, we still need safety, we still need food, we still need love – these are the essentials, and technology should support life in that way,’ says Gordijn. Read more here

Until 26 August; Stedelijk Museum Museumplein 10 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

‘Night Fever: Designing Club Culture 1960-today’ at Vitra Design Museum, Basel

The Swiss museum has opened its doors to an exploration of disco design. From Gruppo 9999’s Space Electric (1969) (where the Italian Radical Design crew hung out), all the way through to OMA’s recent graphic proposals for the Ministry of Sound in London, the show looks upon the last 40 years of iconic nightclub design. The exhibition will take a chronological voyage through the glamour of these spaces and subcultures, via mediums including vintage photography, film, poster and even fashion. Read more here.

Until 9 September; Vitra Design Museum, Charles-Eames-Str. 2 D-79576 Weil am Rhein, Basel

‘Akari: Sculpture by Other Means’ at Noguchi Museum, New York

The Noguchi Museum is showing an exhibition dedicated to Isamu Noguchi’s modular, collapsible ‘Akari’ lanterns. Starting in 1951, Noguchi designed over 200 Akari models in his lifetime, as a way of marrying an ancient paper craft with electricity. The exhibition includes the largest Akari ever created, the two-metre-wide Akari 200D, made for the 1986 Venice Biennale, in addition to various archival materials. A second, concurrent exhibition, ‘Akari Unfolded: A Collection’, features 26 Akari-inspired lamps created by French studio Ymer & Malta in partnership with Nendo, Sebastian Bergne, Stephen Burks, Océane Delain, Benjamin Graindorge, and Sylvain Rieu-Piquet. Pictured: Nendo’s modern interpretation of the light. Courtesy: Ymer & Malta

Until 27 January 2019; Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Rd, Queens, NY 11106