The Future is Present
Design Museum Danmark
June 19, 2022 – June 01, 2023
“The future doesn’t exist. The only thing that exists is now and our memory of what happened in the past. But because we invented the idea of a future, we’re the only animal that realized we can affect the future by what we do today.” – David Suzuki. We live in a time when technology and science have taken us to outer planets. And we often think of progress and growth in positive terms. Creating something new and thinking big has always been a driving force, but it has also had major consequences that now present challenges on several fronts, such as climate, resources, health, and political stability. Consequently, we are seeing a changing design field, where new ideas, thoughts, and solutions are surfacing. More people want to make a change when it comes to better use of resources, consumption habits and patterns and come up with suggestions as to what a more balanced future might look like, for humankind, society, and the planet. The design has always been motivated by an inherent desire to change and do things better. In this exhibition, you will meet skilled craftspeople, designers, artists, companies, and activists who feel passionate about making the world a better place. Together, and separately, they tell stories, ask questions, and come up with solutions as to how we tackle such challenges as climate, migration, pandemics, and the use of resources. The exhibition gives you a picture of the diversity and breadth, characterising the design field of today and tomorrow. And we hope that it will make you reflect on the kind of future you yourself want and can help create. The future is what is happening right now. Welcome to the exhibition, The Future is Present.
One of the main exhibitions, The Future is Present, aims to show examples of designers, thinkers, and creatives, working on shaping a better future. It presents an exhibition space, where visitors themselves are invited to reflect on what they themselves can do to make a positive impact. Instead of giving answers, the exhibition presents different approaches and ideas on how to solve issues and challenges like climate change, migration, pandemics, and better use of resources. And it has been made in collaboration with a wide range of experts, showing the breadth of design – from experimental research projects to products made from new and innovative materials to cases and pieces with a future mindset.
Designing the exhibition space
“The idea behind the exhibition was, from the onset, to create a dialogue between how designers
and craftspeople in the past, have dealt with the future and how they tackle the theme today. We wanted to emphasize that the future is not some far away and abstract thing. It is something that happens now, and we are all a part of shaping it. Therefore, we wanted the exhibition space to be a place of reflection, positivity, and creativity – showcasing some of the celebrated qualities of Danish design like material intelligence, poetic tactility along with a sensibility to human scale,” says Pernille Stockmarr, curator at Designmuseum Danmark. The museum commissioned Spacon & X, a design and architecture studio based in Copenhagen, to create the spatial design for the exhibition. Known for their ability to push boundaries with materials and spatial zoning, Spacon & X was given the task to create a modernized take on the Danish design legacy, which the museum embodies with its vast collections and history. Through close dialogue with the museum, Spacon & X sought to explore the encounter and contrast between the classic and the contemporary. And the primary approach has been to work with the spatial organization and zoning through innovative and sustainable materials.
Keywords like presence, emotional awakening, honesty, and playfulness have guided the design processes. ‘’We want to take the visitor by the hand, and guide them through explorations of creative boundaries, with a drive and approach to continuous questioning and enhancing as well as inspiring a perception of creative freedom in the future,’’ says Nikoline Dyrup Carlsen, Founding Partner at Spacon & X. The exhibition space has been designed with a sense of future optimism, while addressing coming design challenges in a way that balances the unexpected with some more well-known elements, allowing the visitor to be able to relate to the future. However, to ensure that the perception of the future, and the uncertainty it brings, continues to be present for visitors throughout the exhibition, small surprises are introduced during the journey.
The materials chosen are primarily from a range of local Danish firms, providing sustainable materials. A variety of textiles, lighting techniques and diverse textures in layers are used to guide the visitors through the different zones and thematic transitions. Primarily, materials were sourced and used to exemplify future choices and all surfaces tell a story about their creation, character, and function. “We believe that honest and raw designs invite the visitor inside, opening the design process as part of the inspiration for the rich and creative opportunities, showing what the future can be like, and how design plays a role in this,” says Dyrup Carlsen. Throughout the exhibition, visitors will see both organic and re-used materials, and textiles are used, showing innovative solutions, and they will experience materials with a rawer tactility. In this manner, materials, ‘imported’ from industrial production, act as a contrast to the beautiful, exclusive marble floors within the halls of Designmuseum Danmark.
About the collaborations
• Tables and podiums are made in collaboration with the Danish seaweed producer Søuld.
• Over-dimensioned daybed with a mattress made of mycelium, made in collaboration with the Danish company, Natural Material Studio.
• Spacon & X have designed four custom-made chairs that are shaped differently according to future scenarios, dealing with new ways of working remotely. The space in which the chairs are put is surrounded by translucent silver textiles from Kvadrat in wavy shapes, backlit in different colours. The chairs are handcrafted in solid pinewood stained with dark ‘Tokyo’ linseed oil.
• To create a contrast between the modern and the classic, Spacon & X have used ‘imported’ materials like aerated concrete from H+H, creating a raw and honest display element, that can be assembled in a multitude of shapes. All concrete elements are diverse, with broken corners, shaped contours and engraved quotes that make the close encounter worth a visit.
• Another ‘imported’ element is the fascines, made of bioplastic, a material traditionally used underground to prevent erosion from heavy rain. The fascines have been made into flexible modules, shaped like a snake for seating as well as podiums.
About Spacon & X
Spacon & X is a cross-disciplinary spatial identity, design and architecture studio and a double Dezeen & FRAME awards winner. Spacon & X, which is short for Spatial Conversion & Crossfunctionalism, was founded in 2014 in Copenhagen and the studio houses 30 employees with a variety of different backgrounds, from architects and interior designers to design engineers, sculptors, building constructors, carpenters, digital designers design and experience-economists. Through their work on a wide range of scales, from products to interior design to larger architectural building projects, they create a fusion between normally separated fields to a more complete brand experience.