Wieki Somers explores 1921 vs 2021 by design

The Roaring Twenties: Wieki Somers Explores 1921 vs. 2021 by Design

Dutch designer Wieki Somers curates the design department of The Roaring Twenties: a reflection of the parallels between the 1920s and 1920s through the lens of art, design and fashion at the Kranenberg Museum, Bergen (until April 3, 2022)

The Kranenberg Museum, Bergen, presents a new exhibition that explores the parallels between the 1920s and 1920s in art, design, and fashion. Dutch designer Wieki Somers was invited to oversee the design department of the show, while Colin Huizing and Liesbeth in’t Hout sponsored the art and fashion departments respectively.

1920s vs 2021 by design

Studio Minale-Maeda ‘Inside Out Cabinet’ from 2014 next to Gerrit Rietveld ‘Piano Stool’, 1923. Inside the Cabinet: Cartesian knot (wooden construction) by Gerrit Rietveld, 1920; Pierre Charpin ‘U Knuckles’ – ‘Nez’, 2018, and ‘Triplo’, Venini Edition 2003

What do artists hope for then and today? How do they represent the spirit of the age? ›. Sommers asks. “In times of crisis, the role of art and culture often becomes particularly evident, revealing new perspectives.”

A time of contrasts (from the aesthetic innovations of Bauhaus For fascist regimes and a global pandemic, the Spanish flu), evolution and change dominated the 1920s. Will it be the same for the artists of our generation, Somers wonders. She notes that it’s tempting to ask if history will repeat itself.

chair “melt” Nendu, 2019; Dirk van der Koij “Satellite” lamp, 2012; Bertjan Butt Mask, 2012; Wardrobe “Frozen” by Studio Wieki Somers, 2010

Through her organization, the designer has identified six main themes, which she explored through a series of vignettes that bring together early 20th century designs and some of the most exciting names working in design today. The exhibition explores innovation, women’s liberation, nature, social impact, radical thinking, and utopia. “We looked at materialistic studies in the 1920s, which showed a burning desire for innovation that we can still find today,” Summers says. Think sustainability, gender equality, black lives matter, and gender fluidity: Looking at the collection of works collected for the exhibition, spanning from historical to contemporary artists, designers and fashion designers, we can see a rapidly changing world under the influence of technological advances, social participation and a worldview new about gender. The role of the arts in difficult times is to reveal new horizons.

Works on display include Alvar Aalto plywood furniture along with a Christien Meindertsma chair made of biodegradable linen, Charlotte PerriandThe modern approach to design presented next to Konstantin GrcicLatest industrial design work. At the more poetic end of the spectrum is the work of Oskar Schlemmer, whose 1922 ballet trio was put into conversation with Wang & Söderstrom’s digital photographs. The lasting influence of the 1920s can easily be recognized by the fact that many of the historical pieces on display (such as Alvar Aalto and Charlotte Perriand furniture) have recently been reissued and feel more modern than ever.

“Savoy” (Material Studies) by Alvar Aalto, 1934; ‘ExCinere – Step’ by Dzek by Formafantasma, 2019; Seok-hyeon Yoon “Other Model Ceramics” Cutlery Set, 2019-2021

To accompany the show, Somers also designed a set of nine rugs (a design that debuted during Wallpaper’s Handmade Exhibition 2019), who shakes his head to Bauhaus TextilesFlat surfaces act as dividers for exhibition themes.

The organization of the exhibition gave Somers an opportunity to reflect on the current creative climate. “It’s hard to predict a global pandemic,” she continues. The Roaring Twenties was the impetus for innovation; Artists and designers flourished in this period. What you do as a researcher – in any field – is look at history and recognize patterns that will help predict the future. I trust the role of the arts in times of crisis, and I believe that artists perform in turbulent times and lead the way. §

Studio Minale-Maeda’s “Inside Out Cabinet” from 2014; Cartesian knot (wooden construction) by Gerrit Rietveld, 1920; Pierre Charpin ‘U Knuckles’ – ‘Nez’, 2018, and ‘Triplo’, Venini Edition 2003

Alvar Aalto “Room Divider”, 1935; ‘Flax’ chair by Christien Meindertsma, 2019; Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier‘LC4’ chaise longue, 1929 (reissue by Cassina)

Bernhard Hoetger chair, 1924; Jonathan Triet’s “American Apple” and “Sugar Loaf” spotlights, 2020 and 2018. On the wall: Animation and digital prints by Wang & Söderström, shown alongside Oskar Schlemmer’s works including IUD Summary, group photo of the Triadic ballet group, 1926 BauhausBerlin Archives


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