The future is present: a play on words, yes, but also a statement of fact for anyone walking through the doors of the Design Museum Denmark in Copenhagen until next June. The Future is Present is the title of an exhibition that ponders what the future has been and how it has been approached over the centuries by artisans and designers, painting a picture that stretches from the distant past to the modern day.
Instead of seeking answers to the problems and questions raised by the future - which is, in any case, an eternally unfathomable mystery - the curator, Pernille Stockmarr, opted to bring together examples of thinkers, designers and creatives who have delved headfirst into this concept, with such monumental and subjective undertakings as ‘shaping a better future’. Talking about the idea that sparked The Future is Present, Stockmarr says that she wanted to open 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”.
Mass migration, pandemics, climate change, the intense consumption of resources and population growth are the five issues tackled by a panel of experts from various fields through theoretical research, prototypes and field experiments of all sorts. Finished products that strive to change the unsustainable status quo, capable of addressing both global production and global consumption.
As such, the exhibition revolves around the three main themes - ‘Human’, ‘Society’ and ‘Planet’ - each of which offers up a wealth of questions, future scenarios, design examples and art installations. Some suggest solutions, whilst others are more speculative in their approach. A final theme - ‘Shaping the Future’ - rounds off the exhibition with pieces from the permanent collection, showcasing utopian dreams and visionary projects from the past that have influenced the world as we know it today.
To bring the exhibition to life, the Design Museum Denmark asked Danish design and architecture firm Spacon & X to design the exhibition spaces. The firm - according to its founder Nikoline Dyrup Carlsen - worked hand-in-hand with the museum and Pernille Stockmarr, maintaining a constant and open dialogue in order to create a space capable of truly conveying - or, rather, exploring - how the classical and the contemporary overlap and diverge in their imaginations of the future. On this, she explained: “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”.
In any case, before being able to claim any sort of creative freedom, one absolutely must mull over the right questions - and not expect to find any simple answers right away: “is society more diverse or more homogeneous in the future? How will we prioritize and design our communities? How do we create healthy and nourishing relationships? Will our behavior become more socially oriented, or will we be further apart and become isolated? Which human values will be more important? What will the future look like, and what will design look like in the future?”
Participating in the exhibition:
Kaspar Colling Nielsen, Bespoke Copenhagen, Leevi Ikaheimo, Lise Vester, Nicolas Lee Thomas & Peter Bollough, Elena Bauer & Lunia D’ambrosio, Sarah Corbett, Craftivist Collective, So? Architecture & Ideas, University College, Pia Galschiodt Bentzen, Kathrine Barbro Bendixen, Jonas Edvard, Ida Lissner, Mikkel Nielsen, Bjork, Chris Cunningham, Steen Volmer Jensen, Daniel Lindholt, Dansk Metal- Og Autoudstyr, Odense, Ditte Hammerstrom, Anna Bruun Kristiansen ...
Christian Hoyer (1-3)
Design Museum Denmark (4-13)