There’s nothing like trying to get a 436-page issue done and meticulously dusted to give you a full sense of urgency. If not full-on emergency. Especially when a good chunk of those pages are being guest-edited by Neri Oxman (page 297) and Tomás Saraceno (page 337), big-brained paradigm-shifters and category-busters both (nominally and respectively, a designer and an artist, though neither of those definitions will really do). There are clear resonances. Both trained as architects, both collaborate with scientists and are, to some extent, committed to creating compelling stories around scientific enquiry. Compelling and urgent. There is common cause and both address a central question. What is an artist or designer to do in an age of urgency, or full-on emergency? How do you create – slowly and thoughtfully, tackling complex ideas – when your first instinct is to stick your head out of the window and give it the full Peter Finch in Network?
Well, however tangentially, or poetically, you address the issues – waste, pollution, environmental ravaging, capitalism unbound – and get practical, experiment and engage with possible solutions. Oxman talks about the Krebs Cycle of Creativity (her nod to a concept in biochemistry too complicated to get into here). Essentially, she suggests, science turns raw information about the world around us into knowledge; engineering turns that knowledge into utility; design turns utility into behaviour; art questions that behaviour, suggests new ways of looking at the world; and science picks up on those challenges to established ways of thinking and comes up with new information and knowledge. So the creative cycle continues, driven by this essential momentum. There is much to interrogate there, but Oxman implies the more parts of the cycle you get involved with, the more creative momentum you pick up and the more impact you might have.
In this issue are examples of others who try to ride this cycle. The Belgium artist Koen Vanmechelen runs his own silo-smashing art-meets-science project. And on page 128, we look at his remarkable new studio-meets-visitor centre, designed by architect Mario Botta. We also preview new projects from Jean Nouvel (page 176), Daniel Libeskind (page 124) and long-time Wallpaper* favourite, 6a (page 204). We spend time, too, with a more unlikely Wallpaper* subject. Prince Charles is a complex and thoughtful man. However much some of his ideas might rankle, he was forcing sustainability and environmental stewardship onto the agenda long before it was fashionable. And, crucially, he has done things about it, taken practical steps. On page 168 – with pictures by the great Sir Don Mccullin – he takes us for a spin in his vintage Aston Martin DB6, re-engineered to run on waste products from cheese and wine production. Of course, it’s just one car (now running better than ever, Charles insists), but it alerts us to new possibilities, smarter ways of doing things. It’s heading in the right direction.
Limited-edition cover by Tomás SaracenoPhotography: Studio Tomás SaracenoSaraceno’s special cover features a detail of part of his upcoming exhibition at the Palais de TokyoArtworks courtesy of the artist, Andersen’s Contemporary, Copenhagen; Ruth Benzakar, Buenos Aires; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, BerlinLimited-edition covers are available to subscribers, see Wallpaper.comWallpaper* is printed on UPM Star, upm.com