The breathtaking work of Berlin designer Philipp Weber on view at Kunstgewerbemuseum


Composing Processes

By Emma Lucek

Philipp Weber's exhibition Composing Processes, on view now at the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin, reveals this young Design Academy Eindhoven-graduate to be a designer not of shape but of process. As one looks deeper, beyond his unique visual language, it becomes clear that this is the work of an artist whose subject matter is the relevance of handcraft in an increasingly digitized world.

Case in point: A Strange Symphony and A Strange Symphony on Colours, Weber's first explorations in glass. Captivated by the rhythm of the glassblower’s process, Weber transformed his primary tool, the blowpipe, into a musical instrument. This unexpected artistic symbiosis was performed live before an audience, a glassblowing concert organized by Weber in the artisan’s workshop in 2013. The film of the breathtaking event is on display in the museum alongside Weber's glassmaking trumpet and the resulting solid glass objects, which embody the rhythm of their making in their whispery layers of color fossilized in clear glass.

Given Weber's dedication to hand-wrought craft processes, it's fitting that his first solo exhibition is in a museum of traditional decorative arts. Yet the humble simplicity of his work stands in striking contrast to the Kunstgewerbemuseum's permanent collection. Interspersed among various gilded and wrought 17th-century relics from the Knight’s Hall of the Berliner Schloss—objects that have been in the museum seemingly forever—two large glass vitrines hold an array of Weber's rough-hewn, geometric, coal-coloured objects. For From Below, Weber chose industrial coke—an industrial by-product and an almost pure form of carbon—as a medium for this artisanal expression. Despite their earthiness, the objects radiate Weber's intellect and tenacity and elevate the investigative, trial-and-error process that led to their creation.

This kind of stark contrast is what I imagine that Kunstgewerbemuseum curator Claudia Banz hoped to achieve with the newly created, ongoing Design Views series, for which she invited Weber to exhibit. Weber's contemporary take on craft brings a new life to the museum's building—an imposing postwar modernist monstrosity designed Rolf Gutbrod—and the institution's vast collection of bygone European and Byzantine decorative arts.

 

Design Views is an exhibition series developed between the Kunstgewerbemuseum and the International Design Center Berlin.  Philipp Weber’s exhibition Composing Processes is open until 18.04.2018.


Philipp Weber graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven and Berlin University of the Arts. His work has received numerous prizes and has been exhibited internationally.
A Strange Symphony was also included into the collection of the Shanghai Museum of Glass and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Lausanne.

  • Text by

    • Emma Lucek

      Emma Lucek

      A British-born Pole currently based in Berlin, Emma has a background in research and design. In addition to helping Pamono source amazing vendors, lately she's been working on critical writing in the fields of art, architecture, and cultural theory, as well as design journalism.

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