November 24, 2003

Rem Koolhaas' Content

Molly and I went to Berlin for the weekend, to visit friends and get out of Ivrea (go go discount European airlines!) and went to the Rem Koolhaas show at the Neue Nationalgalerie (a link in English that doesn't have pictures, but a nice video).

It's a fascinating and frustrating show because it really embodies the whole Koolhaas art/architecture/design/infographic "more is more" esthetic. There's so much and it's so chaotic that it's overwhelming. It looks like a a giant installation piece, a business school conference poster session and a garage sale. There's no central story, and the threads never seem to be tied together, but it's a profound statement about design, nevertheless. He is inspired by the Russian Constructivist arcitects of the 1920s, who saw it as their responsibility to not just build buildings, but rebuild society. Soviet philosophy notwithstanding, Koolhaas interprets this as meaning that design needs to take the context of the design into account, that understanding the context is as important as the design itself (presumably, that's why it's called "Content," because he sees architecture as significantly more than just the creation of containers).

At least that's how I see it, since that's how I think about design. Granted, his presentation still boggles me, since it tends to represent the complexity of life with complexity of presentation, but it's a start. It's also intensely inspirational, and it showed me how incredibly valuable even simple images can be when communicating an idea, which is somehting I'm going to be trying to emulate.

Oh, and I think that his relationship to is pretty funny. He talks about how much he respects Mies (probably because the Neue Nationalerie is a classic Mies building), but then goes on to try to find every possible way to not be like Mies.

Posted by mikek at November 24, 2003 03:59 AM | TrackBack

Could you perhaps elaborate on how "it showed [you] how incredibly valuable even simple images can be when communicating an idea"?

Posted by: Peter Lindberg at November 24, 2003 05:29 AM

Most of his text is illustrated with images, often taken from pop culture and seemingly slapped together. I commented to Molly that his presentation style essentially boiled down to variations on the mmood board, but it was still remarkably powerful at times. For example, in the work that AMO did for Wired and Conde Nast, they took the various magazines that the company made and created a grid with them. Since each magazine essentially represents a target audience, this allowed them to show what would happened if you moved content around various target markets. Golf Digest crossed with Mademoiselle becomes "Verde," a women's golf/fashion magazine. Wired crossed with a magazine with a 60+ age audience becomes "Wired Silver." They showed all of these by grabbing some images from the web, putting a logo onto them and a couple of fake headlines. It looked slapped together, but it communicated the idea much better than saying "a tech magazine for retirees."

Posted by: Mike at November 24, 2003 06:19 AM

Another nice thing they did with their CCTV proposal was to generate maybe a hundred different models of exterior patterns. Some were reasonable, many were ridiculous (spiderwebs of lines and beams crossing the thing), but it really communicated the flexibility of the system.

Posted by: Mike at November 24, 2003 06:23 AM

Could someone please tell me , where the exhibition " hollocore" , which was part of the exhibition and showed an overview of the groups urbanistic interpretations could be find in internet? Its said to be posted begin december

Posted by: bilger at December 7, 2003 12:08 PM

Hopefully there is something about hollocore in the exibition-catalogue, which will be available after Christmas. If somebody knows if there is something about it in the web, please inform me as well.

T. from B.

Posted by: bathyskaph at December 18, 2003 05:28 AM
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