2nd Biennale for Social Design
Utrecht, the Netherlands
Utrecht Manifest turns the spotlight and investigates the latest developments in the field of design through a socially engaged prism. The mainstays of Utrecht Manifest 2007 are research and reflection and an exhibition programme. The multidisciplinary approach adopted by Utrecht Manifest ensures there is ample consideration for related disciplines such as architecture, film and the visual arts, so that design is not treated as an autonomous, capsular discipline.
The investigative, theoretical aspect is comprised of lectures, debates, workshops, interim publications and an international symposium on 28 November about the hot issue of sustainability. Many people are suddenly realizing that we urgently need to find a new way of interacting with our natural environment if we want to have a future worth talking about. All kinds of conflicting aspirations, fears and responsibilities become evident in this quest for sustainability. Guest speakers at the symposium The Sustainability Dilemma include renowned Italian designer Enzo Mari, architects Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner from Venezuela, German chemist Michael Braungart and British designer Fiona Raby. The key question to be addressed is to what extent the modernist legacy of designers such as Gerrit Rietveld is still of value and relevance today. What is the relevance of terms such as engagement and sustainability for today’s designers? How does the call for su stainability affect the development of the design disciplines?
At the Centraal Museum in Utrecht two remarkable exhibitions are being staged by the intendant of the event Dutch designer Ed Annink: Lovely Language and A Safe Place. For Living & Working Together shown at the Academy Gallery, Ed Annink selected works with a focus on socially engaged design in association by students from international design courses.
Words divide, images unite
In the 1920s, the Austrian sociologist Otto Neurath (1882-1945) developed an international visual language, for which the German-Dutch graphic artist Gerd Arntz (1900-1988) designed more than 4,000 pictograms. Neurath’s motto — words divide, images unite — is the point of departure for the Lovely Language exhibition. Many of the duo’s designs were the forebears of pictograms we now encounter everywhere, such as the man and woman on toilet doors. How tenable is the ISOTYPE (International System of Typographic Picture Education) by Neurath and Arntz in the 21st century? Lovely Language presents Neurath and Arntz’s visual language and the way it was employed as the basis for the development of an international visual language. Also on show is recent and inspiring work at the frontiers of word and image by Dutch designers Mieke Gerritzen, Arnoud van den Heuvel and Koert van Mensvoort, the British-Finnish artist Charles Sandison and others.
A Safe Place
Pictograms for disaster areas
Television, radio, newspapers and the Internet treat disasters as happenings. Clear communication between the local population, any foreign tourists and the international aid workers is critical for every kind of disaster. Gert Dumbar, the renowned graphic designer, devised a new set of universal pictograms for humanitarian relief organizations together with his son Derk and students from Iowa City, Seoul, Paris and The Hague. After years of research these important designs are being presented for the first time in this exhibition.
The Dutch Design Center in De Pastoe Fabriek (Utrecht) presents two more exhibitions: Re-use and Use and Use…, showing the results of a workshop where children collected disused items and injected them with a new lease of life. Beautiful Cultures presents the results of a workshop for students and migrants during which symbols from their original cultures were amassed and translated into contemporary designs.