In the fast-paced world of exhibitions and shows, novelty wears off quickly. In 2017, audiences – and our readers – wanted events that were direct and clear, visually enticing and enlightening – both literally and figuratively. This year, shows with innovative design called our assumptions regarding familiar materials into question, and advances in digital technologies made us look forward to a bright future. Straightforward statements stand out because nobody has time for the gratuitous, so let’s cut to the five most popular articles on exhibitions and shows in 2017.
This year’s Milan Design Week was, as always, an all-you-can-eat buffet of design – but there was just too much to see, in too little time. However, this made it the perfect testing ground for understandable and accessible design to make a statement. It’s fine to walk away from an art exhibition thinking to yourself, hmm, I don’t really get it, but with design it can be frustrating. St-W magazine’s managing editor Tracey Ingram commends the brands and designers that made the cut at Milan Design Week, while calling out those that just left us confused – and there’s no place for equivocation in 2017.
Even as we embrace the increasingly digital future, paper still holds a sensual and emotional power that makes it a pleasure to encounter innovation in this cherished material. Together with century-old creative paper company G . F Smith, eight leading UK creatives came together to create an exhibition of colourful paper installations in various locations throughout the city of Hull. Informed by the fields of contemporary art, architecture and design, the temporary artworks range from enormous sculptures to cut paper designs.
Bonsoir Paris created an emotive exhibition design for Médicins du Monde to raise awareness of inequalities in access to healthcare. The Mise au Poing exhibition interrogates the distance at which society has placed disadvantaged peoples, and Bonsoir Paris emphasized this message with translucent blue panels which lifted the words of the subjects off the page, so visitors stand between the photographs of the invisible peoples and their stories – unavoidably, in the middle of the issue.
Superstudio Più saw the immersive Tokujin Yoshioka x LG light installation exhibited throughout Milan Design Week. The exhibition combined our daily screen-time habits with cutting-edge display technologies. Creating chairs out of OLED screens, the S.F_Senses of the Future installation brought visitors so close to the displays as to be a part of the exhibition. The installation went on to win the Milano Design Award for Best Concept.
Continuing with the theme of illumination and digital technology, teamLab secured a place in St-W’s most-read online articles with its immersive exhibition Transcending Boundaries. Here, teamLab displayed six works by interdisciplinary ‘ultra-technologists’ that disrupted the physical and conceptual boundaries between artworks, exhibition space and viewer. The exhibition acknowledges our increasingly layered ‘post-real’ reality, where our tactile experiences meet – and often blend – indistinguishably with our digital reality.
Find out what trends emerged from the most popular retail, hospitality and workspace interiors of 2017 here.