REFORM Design Biennale is a biannual exhibition space, a common ground and a movement for a new generation of designers, craftsmen, architects and artists challenging traditional ways of thinking — it is a free space to experiment in order to investigate and create new functions, expressions, ideas, processes, craft and technologies — it is a space for creating and debating.
REFORM Design Biennale is founded by Graphic Designer Jens Dan Johansen, Furniture Designer Maria Bruun and Furniture Artist Rasmus Bækkel Fex. The first exhibition took place in 2014.
REFORM Design Biennale is kindly supported by DANISH ARTS FOUNDATION.
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You need to experiment to evolve. Function is a lot of things. We strive to expand the definition. There is potential in the process. Perhaps the cup that you cannot hold onto or cannot pour anything into is the exact product we need.
We encourage designers and artists to stretch out the initial phase, the process before production, where everything is more interesting. We pause exactly that vacuum instead of rushing it. It is a limbo of creativity. If you are going to create something new, you have to fail. You cannot know your final result. So the product needs to be unfinished. When you have made an attempt, you evaluate it afterwards. It is essential to do something illogical to create something logical.
Don’t forget how people looked at Verner Panton. His use of plastic and organics shapes was indeed experimental and controversial. Today his works are recognized as classics.
We feel provoked, when you ask if we are entitled to be here. Or when you suggest that it is just a playground for doing anything you want without taking responsibility. This is exactly about taking responsibility. REFORM is a long-term project. Right now we are facilitating an exhibition, but we aim at a much longer effect. The value of experimenting and stopping the process is vital.
We want you to try to think of function in a different way. We want to question the barriers between art, function and design and make you wonder and question the idea behind the objects as well as the objects themselves. It is not about defining categories, but about taking in an object without categories at all. We want you to listen to what your gut tells you.
What you are going to see now might be confusing in some ways. There are a lot of different expressions and impressions. What is common for all of them is a very strong narrative. This is much more than a furniture exhibition. It is handcraft, knowledge and communication of messages. It is a “what if?” more than a “this is how it is!”. The makers are meticulous and thorough and have explored the art of crafts, without necessarily being educated craftsmen. They want you to dedicate yourself to thinking about the aesthetics and stories in the world that surround us the same way they have done.
It is like throwing a ball into an empty space. REFORM becomes experimental in itself. It is an investigation. We don’t know where it is going. The strength is that is not defined. There are no expectations and no restrictions.
We are not the core of new Danish design. We are a jazz club. People need to come here and discuss. We want to create a design nation — right now we are merely a nation making and watching design. As a nation we are very retrospective. A lot of young students hear that their work is just nonsense, which cannot come into production. REFORM wants to remove these blinkers the industry is wearing. Both for the sake of the designers and the ones who feel the need to evaluate and judge design. We don’t do this to be recognized by the educational system or by the industry. We do it because we believe the space for change is missing.
Relax. Take it in. Absorb it. You don’t have to understand everything you see right away. There are no correct answers. Not from us, not from the makers. There needs to be room for everyone to have an opinion, a feeling and a way to talk about design. Take your time, take it in and process it. You don’t need to rationally analyze what you see. We encourage you to fable and associate. It is an intuitive exhibition of form and material. You don’t need to look at an object and conclude something. We invite you inside to give you a spatial and bodily experience. We hope that you can feel in your gut why each piece is a part of REFORM. It is a place, where we want your reaction to be “this is strange” and to reflect on “why do I find this strange?”. There are no final answers in experiments.
You need to go and see this so that we are able to talk about these things. So that we can create and maintain a common language about design, which is not based on the right answers, thought of habits or justification of what we see. To reform is so many things. It is to create a new form, function, material, technique or to find new inspiration. We are widening the understanding. Even though the industry is constantly redesigning chairs and lamps, these objects so often still look the same. Some things we see every single day, but we never question them. Sometimes the question is more important than the answer. All too often we don’t question the objects and aesthetic agendas that surround us and we never figure out if there is potential for change. REFORM just stopped and observed.
Some of the works from RE F O R M come into production. Some move on to international exhibitions. Some make the makers believe they had a right to be here and do what they do — while some move into new areas.
High quality applications from all over the world to RE F O R M tell us that there is a need for what we do. We are established as a serious entity, and we aim at an even bigger impact. We want to make sure that REFORM also has an effect when there is no exhibition happening — as a platform and a movement, where people refer to REFORM as a term; like “this is a typical REFORM-project”. One thing is certain and that is that we never stop and say “this was the solution, this was the result, now there is no more need for rethinking and reforming”. It is impossible for us not to evolve into a new form.