Stockholm’s revamped ArkDes centre champions design’s role in public life

New exhibition and project space put spotlight on civic activism and emerging voices

Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design, ArkDes, has long been overlooked, tucked at the back of Stockholm’s mighty Moderna Museet. Until recently, the centre’s future was uncertain, but its British-born director is now making changes to the building and programme that aim to put it at the forefront of national debates.

The Boxen gallery at the Modern Museet will have displays of radical new design. Photo: Johan Dehlin, courtesy of ArkDes

The remodelled space opened in June with a dynamic and crisply realised show, Public Luxury, looking at the relationship between public design and communities, from commemorative monuments to dance floors. Other works show citizens from the urban peripheries fighting for their local arts centre or rejecting a new park building in favour of a beloved old shed.

“I think it is quite rare for any design exhibition to have this kind of engagement,” Long says. “Most architecture and design shows instrumentalise the public’s voice by ‘consulting’ them. We present civic activists as hierarchically equal to the architects and designers.”

The centre’s physical reorganisation, signalling a change in mission and a desire to reach beyond the gallery walls, is expressed by Porten, an installation framing the new entrance by the artist Åsa Jungnelius—a taster of her interior for a planned Stockholm metro station.

Long has also introduced the Boxen gallery, designed by Dehlin Brattgård architects, as a showcase for experimental new design. The permanent collection is being reinstalled in an adjacent space that includes a library of architectural models.

“Boxen is like the front page of the museum,” Long says, “a frequently changing platform for emerging work in our field, which has been missing in Sweden”.


Author: ROBERT BEVAN | The Art Newspaper, August 2018


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