MaHKUzine #6, Winter 2009
In spite of the ample archive of spatial concepts, the profession of spatial designer is not an easy one to define in the 21st century. Whereas artistic interventions in space, in whatever form, open up a reservoir of knowledge produced by social interactions, – once coined relational aesthetics by Nicolas Bourriaud –enactments, and other performance - based phenomena related to the domain of visual art, the spatial design profession seems to drown in its spatial concepts without reaching theoretical shores. In other words, both interior designers and public space designers still lack a generally accepted and inspiring form of knowledge production.
What, then, could knowledge production and a relevant theoretical discourse mean for those professional space designers? A phenomenological approach, in the sense of turning to designed space as such, seems inevitable. But how should one understand a designed space? Is it a constructed environment, as Parsons New School for Design claims, in an Art &Education e - flux? Is it bringing space to life in both interior and exterior forms? Do future theorists of designed space have to engage in objects connoting space and, for example, turn to Heidegger and his forms of Zuhandene developed in his rather dense work Time and Being? Could one even ask space designers to indulge in that type of philosophical deliberation?
Both interior designers and public space designers could look at the domain of visual art for models and inspiration for developing a spatial design discourse. In that visual domain, theorists, curators, and artists collaborate in developing a field of artistic research while scanning exhibitions, trends, and individual works of art. Spatial design could address similar questions, including: What does our 21st century designed space, environment, or surroundings look like? What models of analysis could work in scanning them? What are the trends in those designs? What are examples of high quality, professionally excellent designs? How could those three traces together produce novel concepts, insights and links with a theoretically inspirational field?
These issues echo the initial background of the dare # 3 Graduate exhibition Spatial Practices Academiegalerie and Dutch Design Center, August 29 - September 12 2008) and the Spatial Practices symposium held at the Utrecht Centraal Museum on September 10, 2008.
Contemporary spatial design and the spatial research linked to it seem to fan out in all directions. Public space, counterspace, space of the non - place, interior space, self – managed space, urban space, found space, spaces of flow, space of creativity, smooth space, and striated space are just some of the space concepts that appear in MaHKUzine # 6, an issue devoted to spatial practices. Obviously, practice in this spatial context refers to activity and action in space not necessarily performed by consumers of space - although that does not seem to be excluded in the self - managed space radiating a Bourriaud ambience – but rather by professional designers of space. Indeed, spatial design has the capacity to create its own mode of knowledge production. Spatial research is able to produce a novel field of knowledge accompanied by a novel conceptual framework linked to spatial practices. MaHKUzine # 6 issue scans contemporary ventures and explorations in that future field of theory called spatial design knowledge production.
Read or download MaHKUzine #6 at ISSUU
henk slager (general editor)
annette w. balkema
annette w. balkema
christiaan van dokkum, MaHKU/ma editorial design
mahku is part of the european artistic research network, together with the helsinki school of art, malmo school of art, gradcam ( dublin ), slade school of art, london and vienna school of art.