High am­bi­tions

Wallpaper - - Editor’s Letter - Nick Comp­ton, Act­ing Ed­i­tor

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

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