Last month, over fifty Interior and Product Design students and staff had the opportunity to undertake our annual European study tour.
The tour began with an overnight ferry to Calais and the first stop was at The Museum of Printed Textiles in the industrial city of Mulhouse in Eastern France. Students were treated to a guided tour of the archive collection of thousands of printed textiles from the 18th and 19th century. The museum contained contemporary exhibitions of Chantal Thomass and an exhibition of ‘women’s stories’ that discuss the role of Woman in Textiles from the second half of the 18th century to present day.
The next step was to the Cité de l ’Automobile, Musée national de l ’automobile, Collection Schlumpf. It has the largest display collection of automobiles and contains the largest and most comprehensive collection of Bugatti motor vehicles in the world. From the beginnings of the motor industry in France and prototypes it contains two of the most valuable cars in the world, with an exhibition of French Industrial Designer Phillipe Chabonneaux. Some students even managed to test drive some classic cars around the test track.
The students then headed for the 2016 Milan Furniture Fair at the Rho Fiera exhibition centre. It was the 55th year the exhibition had been running and is the world’s largest design exhibition with 300,000 annual visitors from all over the world. There students saw the latest design ideas for contemporary living, a special exhibition of ‘Classic Design’ and the ‘Salone Satellite’ exhibition of five hundred new and emerging designers.
The students had the opportunity to experience the profession and business of design and manufacture on a global scale. Some of them even rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous cognoscenti of the design world including; Karim Rashid, Phillipe Starck and Ron Arad.
Day five saw students in Venice enjoying gondola rides and speed boat trips, as well as the history and unique architecture. Students experienced some of the contemporary art galleries and exhibitions at the Academia and Guggenheim museum and the ‘Beautiful Tomorrow’ exhibition by Joseph Klibansky at the Venice campus of the European Institute of Design.
Heading back to Milan City Centre, the whole city is transformed into the cultural capital of design for the week with thousands of exhibitions all over the city. In romantic courtyards, ‘pop up’ galleries, high street stores even in disused office spaces, factories and even in drained swimming pools. Walking around the city there are many opportunities to see the amazing Italian gothic architecture of the Duomo Milan Cathedral and the opulence of the Galleria.
On the visit to Milan there was a tour of ‘La Fondazione Achille Castiglione’, the preserved design studio of Achille Castiglione, one of the world’s leading Italian designers of the 20th century. The studio is packed floor to ceiling with eclectic collections of artefacts, prototypes, drawings and concept designs. The tour is conducted by his daughter Giovanna Castiglione and offers a fascinating personal insight into the creative mind of Achille. Many students considered this experience as a highlight of the trip.
On the return journey, students travelled back through the Italian Alps and made a short journey across the border into Germany to Weil am Rhein the ‘city of chairs’ to visit the Vitra Factory and Museum. The students undertook an architectural study tour that encompassed the iconic buildings on the Vitra site. These included Dame Zaha Hadids, first commission as an architect ‘the fire station’ that established her as one of the world’s leading architects, the conference pavilion designed by Tado Ando, a highly ordered minimalist spatial articulation designed in sympathy with its environment. Other exhibits included The VitraHaus, designed by Meuron and de Herzog containing room sets of the full range of Vitra products and The Design Museum by Frank Gehry.
On the final leg of the journey, students visited the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, one of the finest examples of the architecture of Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier and one of the most important examples of 20th century religious architecture.
The students had an amazing experience, with final year student Zara Chander-Kumar saying: ‘an insightful, stimulating and motivational trip. Each day was filled with adventure, excitement and memorable experiences’. First year student Sandra Sharma, added: ‘I had an absolutely wonderful time. It was well organised. I can’t imagine in a million years to have done, seen and experienced so many things in just one week. This trip has broadened my imagination and views’.