In the Mix
What Comes Next
Thoughts on the year ahead from design friends around the globe
As 2022 begins, set against the backdrop of a world in flux, we’re all eager to reconnect and contemplate paths forward. We reached out to some of our favorite design thinkers and tea leaf readers from around the globe for their thoughts on the year ahead: what they’re expecting, looking forward to, and/or hoping for. Read on for a dose of inspiration and determination.
Adam Nathaniel Furman / Designer and Artist / London: “I am not expecting anything in particular, as the past couple of years have taught me to take what comes in my stride, day by day and step by step, and to savor and appreciate wherever and whenever any good things happen. In terms of hoping, I am very much hoping for lots more touch, for hugging with abandon again, kissing cheeks. Work has strangely been going very well, but even in that arena it will be so lovely to travel again, and meet with people I am working with in person, have dinner with them, laugh over a glass of wine....”
Aric Chen / General and Artistic Director Het Nieuwe Instituut / Rotterdam: “If there is a silver lining to these past two years of the pandemic, and the social and other upheavals that accompanied them, it is that they brought heightened awareness of the need for change on so many levels. In 2022, I am looking forward to more of us doing much more to make those changes happen.”
Catalina Ruiz Urquiola / Creative Director, COLLECTIONAL / Dubai: “The link between the physical and the digital is inevitable, however I hope to see a continued exploration into new materials and designs originating from unexpected parts of the world. Dubai has a burgeoning design scene, and it will be exciting to see how it continues to grow in the coming period.”
Cherine Magrabi Tayeb / Founder and Curator, House of Today / Beirut: “We once took for granted the ability to plan based on a certain level of visibility. This no longer applies due to the disruptions brought on by the pandemic and circumstances in Lebanon. As we start to regain a sense of normalcy, we have acquired the tools to carve new paths and explore uncharted waters, and I look forward to seeing how designers will take the wheel and navigate based on their own interpretations, with House of Today accompanying them on their unique journeys.
I am also eager to witness the power of human connections, part of an inspiring design movement, playing different roles to nurture local creativity, utilizing our senses and experiencing materials and objects in novel ways. We will see more meaningful designs and more conscious collecting. These past few years have taught us that in the design world, even when met with uncertainty, we must come together for unbounded inspiration to continue to flow.”
Cyril Zammit / Design Advisor and Consultant / Dubai: “I am strangely optimistic about 2022. The market has learnt from its previous mistakes, and from here in the Middle East, we witness a steady growth and maturity in design projects and creations from the UAE but also Saudi Arabia. New, exciting projects are in the pipeline—reaffirming the region’s strive for creativity and innovation with a strong link to heritage and crafts.”
Federica Sala / Independent Curator and Design Advisor / Milan: “For 2022, I’m looking forward to continuing to put the idea of collectivity in the center of my work, because before everything else we are communities. This past year I was able to work with so many nice people, and I learned that we do not have to wait for the perfect moment; we can find alternative paths to produce, show, and distribute design culture. So for the upcoming year I hope we’ll have a bigger lateral vision, that we’ll be able to focus on things that really matter, and to always put heart into our work. But also I’m very much hoping for the return of spontaneous encounters, random decisions, and more parties…There’s a positive energy that comes with that kind of chaos.”
Malene Barnett / Artist, Activist, and Founder of the Black Artists + Designers Guild, New York City: “The messaging from artists is deeply rooted in personal experiences and grounded in historical references. Black and Brown artists are digging deeper into their narratives, culture, and history unapologetically. The approach is multidisciplinary, and the art functions as a tool to share these experiences.
In the future, Black artists will continue to define culture in modern societies and be recognized as legacy makers instead of just reflectors of their time. From a technical standpoint, the mediums will find their way into the world of digital art. Currently, NFT’s are dominating the marketplace, and I believe Black artists will take it a step further to create platforms that reflect our experiences for the medium, and I hope to be a part of the formation.”
Matthias and Philippe Jousse / Directors, Galerie Jousse Entreprise / Paris: “We are feeling hopeful, and have planned a beautiful program for 2022. It starts in January with the exhibition Intérieur d'un collectionneur, featuring work by Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, and George Jouve. During the spring, we will have an exhibition of Martin Szekely and, later, a project with the architect Dominique Perrault. There is much to look forward to for the year 2022!”
Pascale Sablan / Associate at Adjaye Associates and Founder and Executive Director of Beyond the Built Environment / New York City: “2020 was the year of pledges; many organizations and firms made statements of solidarity. 2021 was the year of conversation; people brought discussions of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion into new places and spaces and echoed their importance. This discourse created a culture of awareness of truths and experiences and accountability to everyone to fight for justice, not just those disenfranchised by architecture. My prediction is that 2022 will be the year of action! Enough talk; let's work!
Empowered with information, and supported by a coalition of people with aligned values, we are positioned to launch and monitor programming, initiatives, and efforts designed to dismantle and eradicate racism, sexism, and oppression from the professional and built environment.
These established methods will provide opportunities to track the metrics of progress, that will allow for further refinements to move towards justice in the most efficient and effective way possible.”
Rachael Fry / Founder, CRITERIA and C. Gallery / Cremorne, Australia: “Despite being in lockdown for over five months, 2021 was the year of ideas and action for CRITERIA. We opened our design gallery, C. Gallery, in October with an inspiring roster of international and Australian artists who are changing the design narrative in Australia. 2022 is just the beginning, and I am looking forward to the work we will do with these artists, but also collectively as a design community with the launch of the inaugural Melbourne Design Fair, hosted by the NGV and Melbourne Art Foundation. Until now, there hasn’t been an organized event to celebrate and support work of this kind, and we are looking forward to seeing this come to life.
C.Gallery will be presenting the work of New Zealand-born Ben Mazey at the fair, alongside his first solo show at the gallery. Ben’s sculpture practice is a meditation on optimism, which can feel in such short supply at the moment, and his joie de vivre, which he distills so beautifully in his practice, feels like just the tonic Australia and the world needs right now.”
Ramon Tejada / Designer and Teacher, Assistant Professor, Graphic Design Department, RISD / Providence, Rhode Island: “Looking towards 2022, mindful that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, I am hoping for Design at large to engage in authentic, honest, and thoughtful discussions and sustained space-making; for Design at large to acknowledge in non-performative, reactive ways the myriad perspectives, voices, traditions, peoples that our fields have ignored, demeaned, cataloged as ‘lesser than’ and many times appropriated. Design needs to get away from its ‘universal,’ reductive (read: clean, white space) tendencies and engage with plurality, maximalism, and a kind of ‘beautiful messy’ thinking that reflects the multitudinous perspectives that co-exist on our planet. Design needs to unlearn, listen, acknowledge and embrace the beauties of complexities.”
Sekou Cooke / Architect, Urban Designer, Researcher / Charlotte, North Carolina: “Leading up to 2022, there has been a growing and necessary recognition of what’s at stake in our design disciplines––cultures, ecologies, systems, and networks that are all impacted and thus shaped by the objects and spaces that we create. I’m hopeful that this, combined with the reverberations from the loss of Virgil Abloh, will continue to reorient the design world over the next year. Virgil embodied the core attitudes of hip-hop and brought them to main-stream design consciousness. He and those that come after him will build the foundations of a new design language that can create more dynamic, more relevant, and more resonant futures for all design fields.”
Stephen Markos / Founder, Superhouse / New York City: “I am looking forward to building on the momentum started in 2021 with the opening of Superhouse Vitrine. The move from an online platform to an IRL gallery was a leap, especially in a pandemic. However, I have been overwhelmed by the positive response from the design community—designers, collectors, press, small business neighbors, and design enthusiasts. I really cannot wait to share the programming I have in store for 2022, which will include historical design as well as contemporary, and will continue to find cutting-edge ways to blend the digital and the physical.”
Tiffany Lambert / Curator, Educator, and Writer / New York City: “Design is inherently about people—not just the things we make and use but the ways we interact, behave, commune. The pandemic has impacted various communities so differently. I am hopeful for even more acknowledgement, consideration, openness, and opportunities.”
Tosin Oshinowo / Architect, Designer, and Founder of cmDesign Atelier and Ilé Ilà / Lagos: “If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it is that the only constant is change, and the most important virtues for us to embrace as a global design community are adaptability and resilience. These have long been core attributes of design in Africa and the global south as we respond to the tailwinds of globalization. It feels as though a portal opened for us in 2021, with increased interest in design and creative production from the global south. I am excited and hopeful that this will continue in 2022, and that we will prioritize design solutions that are sustainable and innovative into the future.”
Valentina Ciuffi / Founder of Studio Vedèt and Cofounder of Alcova / Milan: “2021 gave us fewer, and therefore more meaningful in-person events—one of which I organized and the others I just enjoyed. The energy I witnessed on these occasions was incredible and unexpected. Personally, I'm moving towards 2022 with confidence thanks to the evidence I experienced of how powerful and proficuous it still is to gather together and experience collectively. I have no prejudice against, and I’m actually pretty intrigued by everything that is happening in the digital world, but for now I have the certainty that ‘keeping it real’ will keep on being essential to the evolution of the design discourse.”
Yu Wang and Xiao Lu / Founders, Gallery All / Shanghai and Los Angeles: “Although the years 2020 and 2021 were very much marked by Covid, we’ve been fortunate enough to continue to attend and host exhibitions all over China as well as in Europe—and most recently, at Art Basel week in Miami. Looking to the future, we are optimistic. We have just opened a new gallery in Shanghai; this multi-room, 6,500 square foot space will be the core of our gallery program moving forward. The debut exhibition, First of All, curated by Violet Wang, reflects on traditional ways of categorizing and experiencing art versus design, and advocates for a reexamination and liberation from stereotypes. Although we are still carefully monitoring health protocols in the world, we are looking forward to attending and organizing more exhibitions in the coming year.”
Zoë Ryan / Daniel W. Dietrich, II Director, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania / Philadelphia: “I’m feeling optimistic. The past couple of years have propelled us to reimagine arts institutions now and in the future, with a focus on creating new possibilities. At ICA, we have begun to lay the groundwork toward our own transformation to create a more porous, open, and collaborative center of interdisciplinary artistic practice. I look forward to further engaging our communities in person and online, building and strengthening relationships, and fostering connections to the arts and artists and designers.
As we chart a path forward, our 2022 program re-envisions arts infrastructure with RAW Académie, led by artistic director Linda Goode Bryant, as well as engages Sissel Tolaas who is doing provocative research into smell. Both invite an exchange of ideas that resonates with the socio-political conditions of our time.” ◆
Sincere thanks to all our contributors.
Artwork by Adam Nathaniel Furman; courtesy of the designer.