100 EXPERIMENTS. Inspiration in Design Processes.
How does inspiration move in the atmosphere? How do we inspire each other? And how does this inspiration changes through each person’s unique experience? To find out, we set an experiment by tasking a single architect to find inspiration in the Theo van Doesburg painting The Rhythm of a Russian Dance, and then pass his work to other architects, growing into a web of conversation, interplay, and inspiration, a dance all on its own.
Inspiration is a driving force in creative design processes. In architecture, it provides important impulses for the development of concepts and approaches, often in unexpected and unforeseeable ways. Designer Anna Butele, one of the founders of Cobalt, explores the notion of inspiration in a levitating installation: 100 works materialize from a collaborative experimental project. Drawings, graphics, photographs, and models by renowned architects from 28 countries form a chain— each contribution is a reaction inspired by the previous work. Personal statements by the architects themselves frame the exhibition installation, allowing the audience to immerse itself in the inspirational impulses essential to creative work processes. ‘100 Experiments’ brings together a sequence of 100 works, each functioning both as a source of inspiration as well as an interpretative product.
The exhibition allows us to enter inspiration and see its incessantly progressing nature and global scale. The exhibition provides an up-close view of just one microscopic part of the never-ending network of inspiration.
How did the experiment start?
Just a century ago – inspired by the principles of geometric abstractionism, Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931), the leading representative of the Dutch avant-garde movement De Stijl, created the painting Ritme van een Russische dans (Rhythm of a Russian Dance) (1918). Van Doesburg is known as an ardent advocate of geometric art. He worked not only as a versatile artist, but also as an editor of the magazine De Stijl. He contributed to various journals and was a member of various artist societies. It was his strength, as a spider in the international web and as a networker avant-la-lettre, to forge bonds with fellow-artists, architects and graphic designers, to bring them together through congresses, lectures and artist groups and to promote their work.
Eleven years later, in 1929, the painting Rhythm of a Russian Dance became an inspiration for the legendary classicist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, one of the most iconic architectural works – the German Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Barcelona.
Originating from a single event: In 2017, Anna Butele handed Theo Van Doesburg’s painting to an American architect Gary Bates (Space Group) and invited him to create a work inspired by the painting. His interpretation was then passed on to subsequent architects to serve as a source of inspiration and impulse for their contributions. Each of the three selected architects creates a work inspired by that of Gary Bates, and continues the chain of inspiration. Like an independent organism, the project moved freely in the atmosphere by changing in unpredictable directions.
Depending on the input and personal experience, the contributions change and shift, often in opposite directions: from rational to irrational, interior to exterior, personal to public, local to global, random to planned, from marginal to central or even from submissive to dominating. In so, the contributions highlight the architect’s social responsibility, inherent in designing the built environment. This collection of works once again underlines the unique international features of the exhibition, which reflect specific characteristics of thinking of territorial, national and mental nature, and the global view to architectural and other processes, that unites the architects.
It took more than two years to collect all 100 artworks that soon be published in a book in collaboration with Jap Sam Publishing House.
In today’s information intensive environment and borderless accessibility, it is a challenge to be unique. Our ambition is to show the way creativity evolves, transforms, and gains a new perspective under this 21st-century information smog by showing naked ideas.