formafantasma's exhibition at VITRA design museum delves into the past & future of gardens

formafantasma's exhibition at VITRA design museum delves into the past & future of gardens

‘Garden Futures’ exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum

 

The exhibition ‘Garden Futures’ at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany underlines the garden as a place of experimentation that enlivens a sequence of symbolism. ‘Gardens reflect identities, dreams, and visions’. They are spaces that awaken feelings, histories, and myths, are deeply connected with religion, fairytales, and romantic scenarios, but also are pioneering spaces that mark social and political developments, ‘where concepts of social justice, biodiversity, and sustainability can be tried and tested’. Designed by the Italian studio Formafantasma, the exhibition opens its doors to the public on 25 March and will run until 3 October 2023. 

 

‘Garden Futures: Designing with Nature’ seeks to explore the past of these vibrant, green sites and envisions their future with modern interpretations. The display features both historical and contemporary concepts, including artworks of designers, artists, and landscape architects — such as Alvar Aalto, Piet Oudolf, Alexandra Kehayoglou, Stefano Boeri, among others — who believed that the power of gardens could bring radical changes.

formafantasma's exhibition at the vitra design museum delves into the past & future of gardens
Céline Baumann, Parliament of Plants, 2020 © Studio Céline Baumann

 

 

‘Gardens are full of hope and promise’

 

From deckchairs to vertical urban farms, from contemporary community gardens to living buildings, the exhibition at Vitra Design Museum (see more here) uses various examples from design, everyday culture, and landscape to confront the viewer with the following questions: ‘Where do today’s garden ideals come from? Will gardens help us achieve a liveable future for everyone?’

 

A media installation articulated by works of diverse artists and architects — such as Hans Thoma, Georg Gerster, Athanasius Kircher, Gabriel Guevrekian, Barbara Stauffacher-Solomon, Alvar Aalto, Thomas Church, Vita Sackville-West, and Luis Barragán — welcomes the visitors at the start of the exhibition, designed by Formafantasma (more here). They conceive gardens as an idealized space that permeates our everyday lives and imaginations, a place that is profoundly linked with symbolic, philosophical, or even religious significance. 

 

The show’s second section highlights the values behind the gardens, affecting colonial history and cultural development. The colonial powers exploited their monopolies over important crops like tea or rubber. However, the invention of the Wardian case, which enabled the plant trade all over the world, played a central role in breaking these social inequalities. The nineteenth century also saw the flourishing of Guerrilla farming, striving to redefine ‘the garden as a place where social justice and public participation are actively negotiated.’

formafantasma's exhibition at the vitra design museum delves into the past & future of gardens
Julien de Cerval, The Gardens of Marqueyssac, France, designed in the 1860s Photo: Romain Laprade, 2020

 

The third part of the exhibition presents nine innovative garden makers from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, Dutch garden designer and author Piet Oudolf, author and gardener Jamaica Kincaid, artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman, Malaysian landscape architect Ng Sek San, Chinese artist Zheng Guogu and others.

 

The final section sees the future of gardens. Crossing an era of climate emergency, social injustice and isolation, and decimated biodiversity, the tomorrow gardens are unveiled as a place of healing, interaction, and knowledge. Argentinian artist Alexandra Kehayoglou created the walkable textile ‘meadow’, especially for the exhibition, in an attempt to accentuate the dramatic impact of the climate crises on timeless landscapes. Moreover, ‘Garden Futures’ hosts a six-meter scroll by architect Thomas Rustemeyer, which, alongside contemporary works, also includes traditional and indigenous practices, radiating the message that ‘the entire planet emerges as a garden that we need to cultivate, tend, and use responsibly.’

formafantasma's exhibition at the vitra design museum delves into the past & future of gardens

Piet Oudolf, Oudolf Garten on the Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein, 2020 © Vitra, Photo: Dejan Jovanovic

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Julien de Cerval, The Gardens of Marqueyssac, Vézac, France © Laugery – Les Jardins de Marqueyssac, Dordogne, France

formafantasma's exhibition at the vitra design museum delves into the past & future of gardens
Piet Oudolf, Oudolf Garten on the Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein, 2020 © Vitra, Photo: Dejan Jovanovic

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Derek Jarman, Prospect Cottage Garden at Dungeness, Kent, UK, from 1986 Photo: Howard Sooley, 1993

formafantasma's exhibition at VITRA design museum delves into the past & future of gardens
Liz Christy in a community garden, New York City, 1970s Photo: Donald Loggins

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Stefano Boeri, Bosco Verticale, Milan, 2014 © Stefano Boeri Architetti, Photo: The Blink Fish, 2018

formafantasma's exhibition at VITRA design museum delves into the past & future of gardens
Stefano Boeri Architetti, Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), Milan, 2007–2014 © Stefano Boeri Architetti, Photo: Dimitar Harizanov, 2020

formafantasma's exhibition at VITRA design museum delves into the past & future of gardens
Zheng Guogu, Liao Garden, Yangjiang, China, 2017, started from 2005 Courtesy of Zheng Guogu and Vitamin Creative Space

 

 

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building phase of the Kebun-Kebun Bangsar community garden, Kuala Lumpur, 2017 Courtesy of Kebun-Kebun Bangsar
building phase of the Kebun-Kebun Bangsar community garden, Kuala Lumpur, 2017 Courtesy of Kebun-Kebun Bangsar
Piet Oudolf, High Line, New York City © Piet Oudolf, Photo: Annik La Farge and Rick Darke
Piet Oudolf, High Line, New York City © Piet Oudolf, Photo: Annik La Farge and Rick Darke
Alexandra Kehayoglou, Santa Cruz River, Tapestry, National Gallery of Victoria,  2016-2017 © Alexandra Kehayoglou
Alexandra Kehayoglou, Santa Cruz River, Tapestry, National Gallery of Victoria, 2016-2017 © Alexandra Kehayoglou
Bagh-e Shahzadeh, Persian garden near Mahan, Iran, 1977 Photo: Georg Gerster
Bagh-e Shahzadeh, Persian garden near Mahan, Iran, 1977 Photo: Georg Gerster
Plant processing in the Weleda Production Plant, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany,  late 1920s © Weleda Archive
Plant processing in the Weleda Production Plant, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, late 1920s © Weleda Archive
James Wines, Drawing of the Highrise of Homes (theoretical project), 1981, Collection Jonathan Holtzman  © James Wines
James Wines, Drawing of the Highrise of Homes (theoretical project), 1981, Collection Jonathan Holtzman © James Wines
Liz Christy in one of her Lower East Side gardens, New York City, 1975 Photo: Donald Loggins
Liz Christy in one of her Lower East Side gardens, New York City, 1975 Photo: Donald Loggins
Giovanni Battista Falda, Plan of the garden of the Villa Medici in Rome, 1683 © Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Giovanni Battista Falda, Plan of the garden of the Villa Medici in Rome, 1683 © Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Advertisement for a lawn care product of  O. M. Scott & Sons, in: Life, 31 August 1959 © Vitra Design Museum, Photo: Andreas Sütterlin
Advertisement for a lawn care product of O. M. Scott & Sons, in: Life, 31 August 1959 © Vitra Design Museum, Photo: Andreas Sütterlin
J. Howard Miller, Poster for the Westinghouse War Production Co-Ordinating Committee, USA, c. 1942 © Detre Library & Archives at the History Cente
J. Howard Miller, Poster for the Westinghouse War Production Co-Ordinating Committee, USA, c. 1942 © Detre Library & Archives at the History Cente
Friedrich August Krubsacius, Design for an unknown garden, 1760 © SLUB Dresden / Deutsche Fotothek, Germany
Friedrich August Krubsacius, Design for an unknown garden, 1760 © SLUB Dresden / Deutsche Fotothek, Germany
Upper Rhenish Master, The Little Garden of Paradise, c. 1410-1420 © Sammlung Städel Museum Frankfur
Upper Rhenish Master, The Little Garden of Paradise, c. 1410-1420 © Sammlung Städel Museum Frankfur
Roberto Burle Marx, Design for the Ministry of Education and Health roof garden,  Rio de Janeiro, 1938 © Burle Marx Institute Archive The photo may not be cropped or altered
Roberto Burle Marx, Design for the Ministry of Education and Health roof garden, Rio de Janeiro, 1938 © Burle Marx Institute Archive The photo may not be cropped or altered
Roberto Burle Marx, Rooftop garden of the Gustavo Capanema Building,  the Ministry of Education and Health headquarters, c. 1955  © Instituto Moreira Salles Collection,  Photo: Marcel Gautherot The photo may not be cropped or altered
Roberto Burle Marx, Rooftop garden of the Gustavo Capanema Building, the Ministry of Education and Health headquarters, c. 1955 © Instituto Moreira Salles Collection, Photo: Marcel Gautherot The photo may not be cropped or altered
Alexandra Kehayoglou, Santa Cruz River, Tapestry, 2016-2017 © Alexandra Kehayoglou, courtesy of The National Gallery of Victoria
Alexandra Kehayoglou, Santa Cruz River, Tapestry, 2016-2017 © Alexandra Kehayoglou, courtesy of The National Gallery of Victoria
Full Grown, The Grown Chair, 2012-2016   © Alice and Gavin Munro, Photo: Gavin Repton for Full Grown Ltd.
Full Grown, The Grown Chair, 2012-2016 © Alice and Gavin Munro, Photo: Gavin Repton for Full Grown Ltd.
Maria Sibylla Merian, Rose with metamorphosis of leaf roller and a glued beetle larva, after 1679 © Sammlung Städel Museum Frankfurt
Maria Sibylla Merian, Rose with metamorphosis of leaf roller and a glued beetle larva, after 1679 © Sammlung Städel Museum Frankfurt
Cultivation of calendula plants, apothecary garden, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, 2016 © Weleda, Photo: Barbara von Woellwarth
Cultivation of calendula plants, apothecary garden, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, 2016 © Weleda, Photo: Barbara von Woellwarth
Piet Oudolf, Oudolf Garten on the Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein, 2020 © Vitra, Photo: Dejan Jovanovic
Piet Oudolf, Oudolf Garten on the Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein, 2020 © Vitra, Photo: Dejan Jovanovic
diagram of trees and plants of the Bosco verticale, 2014  © Stefano Boeri Architetti
diagram of trees and plants of the Bosco verticale, 2014 © Stefano Boeri Architetti
Jurgen Bey, Tree-trunk bench, 1998 © Vitra Design Museum, Photo: Jürgen Han
Jurgen Bey, Tree-trunk bench, 1998 © Vitra Design Museum, Photo: Jürgen Han
Woman on the Altorfer Lounger, the so-called Spaghetti Chair, 1949 © Embru-Werke AG
Woman on the Altorfer Lounger, the so-called Spaghetti Chair, 1949 © Embru-Werke AG
Huldreich Altorfer, Altorfer Lounger, »Spaghetti Chair«, 1948 © Embru-Werke AG
Huldreich Altorfer, Altorfer Lounger, »Spaghetti Chair«, 1948 © Embru-Werke AG
French Garden Chair, c. 1850-1900 © Vitra Design Museum, Photo: Jürgen Hans
French Garden Chair, c. 1850-1900 © Vitra Design Museum, Photo: Jürgen Hans
Patricia Urquiola, Tropicalia armchair, 2008 © Vitra Design Museum, Photo: Andreas Sütterlin
Patricia Urquiola, Tropicalia armchair, 2008 © Vitra Design Museum, Photo: Andreas Sütterlin
Piet Oudolf, Sketch for planting design of the Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein  © Piet Oudolf
Piet Oudolf, Sketch for planting design of the Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein © Piet Oudolf

project info:

 

exhibition title: Garden Futures: Designing with Nature

exhibition design: Formafantasma | @formafantasma
dates: 25 March 2023 to 3 October 2023

location: Fire Station, Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein, Germany

curatorial team:
Vitra Design Museum | @vitradesignmuseum: Viviane Stappmanns, Nina Steinmüller 
Nieuwe Instituut | @nieuweinstituut: Marten Kuijpers, Maria Heinrich

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