MK&G Hamburg presents optimistic visions for an uncertain future
Inflatable "teahouses" and futuristic foods feature in Ask Me if I Believe in the Future, a conceptual exhibition at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.
Curated by Maria Cristina Didero, Ask Me if I Believe in the Future comprises a series of objects and installations based around topics that could shape the future of humanity.
The exhibition features the work of New York-based Objects of Common Interest, Dutch designer Carolien Niebling, Italian duo Zaven and Israeli designer Erez Nevi Pana.
Each has used the thematic question as a starting point to explore their hopes and fears for a changing world, in the light of recent events that include climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war.
"Ask Me if I Believe in the Future is a project about optimism," said Didero.
"While the title of this exhibition might sound simple, we have probably all thought about it at least once in our lives without finding a precise answer," she continued.
"This exhibition contains a seed of hope, just like the word future itself; it is as much about the future as it is about us."
The show is staged across a series of rooms within MK&G Hamburg, with exhibition design by Okolo.
Objects of Common Interest, led by Greek designers Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis, has created three inflatable sculptures that invite visitors to clamber inside.
Called Teahouses of Domesticity, these tunnel-like spaces reflect on the changing nature of human interactions in the age of digital media.
"The walk-in works were conceived in analogy to Japanese teahouses, where the traditional tea ceremony provides a moment of deceleration and meditation," said Didero.
Each inflatable has its own properties: one is wrapped in silver foil to shield the occupant from the outside world, one uses memory foam to briefly map movements, and the third creates space for two people to come together.
Switzerland-based Carolien Niebling, who is best known for her Future Sausage research project, offers a look at food consumption in the future.
On the grounds that mass-produced food has been a significant contributor to climate change, Niebling proposes a future where algae and seaweed become important sources of nutrition.
Her installation, Future-Proof Plating, celebrates these high-yield but largely under-utilised crops through large-scale close-up imagery.
The designer also suggests how they might one day end up on our dinner plates.
"This project magnifies the beauty of edible (water) plants such as seaweed and wild leaves and reintroduces them back onto our plates," said Niebling.
"Taking food out of its original context allows us to look at it with new eyes and an open mind."
Zaven founders Enrica Cavarzan and Marco Zavagno have taken a more survivalist approach with their contribution, titled Why Not? Their aim was to pinpoint the "bare necessities" that will transcend time.
Imagining a time of limited resources, the Venice-based duo have worked with local makers to craft a series of essential objects using only natural and locally available materials.
These objects include a lamp, vessels for holding drinks and food, a coat and a chair.
"The objects they created, including ceramics, lamps, clothing and chairs, may indeed prove to be essential even in a distant future," said Didero.
"The message: when it comes to essentials, our environment gives us everything we need to produce the bare necessities ourselves."
In the final room, Nevi Pana – a vegan and passionate animal rights activist – imagines a future where humans are able to travel between different planets.
His Homecoming installation includes a water basin that represents Earth as seen from above and a flag representing world unity. Pana hopes that a multi-planetary lifestyle would encourage us to take better care of our home planet.
"A multi-planet species sounds exciting to me, but this doesn’t mean that we should ignore the problems we face here," he said.
"I imagine our future on other planets, not as refugees, but as species that chose to cross boundaries and still have the ability to return home."
The photography is by Henning Rogge.
Ask Me if I Believe in the Future is on show at MK&G Hamburg from 1 July to 23 October. See Dezeen Events Guide for all the latest architecture and design events taking place around the world.