Expansive Bodies: Contesting Design at Het Nieuwe Instituut, a richly illustrated book exploring eight years of idiosyncratic exhibition design, is available now in Dutch and English.
Today, design occupies an increasingly expansive field. Promoters argue that almost anything can be design. But by expanding its definition, design is no longer just about solutions and innovation, but often the root cause of problems and conflict. For museums that engage with the design world, such shifting ground poses an existential challenge. It is no longer enough to simply champion design professions, designers and designed objects. One must instead deeply interrogate how design acts, to what end, and for whom.
Expansive Bodies is an account of the past eight years of institutional practice at Het Nieuwe Institute in Rotterdam, and its own attempts to come to terms with this shifting ground, which has produced a unique approach to framing, challenging and probing design. The book comprises an oral history of the institute as recounted by 15 practitioners, an illustrated account of the institute’s exhibition history, and 16 essays commissioned by the institute, each exploring different ideas about cultural practice and the expanded ways in which design operates and has impact today.
Brendan Cormier wrote and edited the publication. Maureen Mooren invited seven designers to each design a chapter. Johannes Schwartz photographed the exhibitions.
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A Dutch edition of this book is also available: ISBN 978-94-6208-664-7
Publication date: August 2021
Writer and editor: Brendan Cormier
Design: Natasha Chandani, Lana Cavar, Ines Cox, Geoff Han, Ivan Martinez, Maureen Mooren, Julie Peeters, Maud Vervenne
Photos: Johannes Schwartz
22 x 28,5 cm, 312 pages
Brendan Cormier is the Senior Curator of Exhibitions and Special Projects at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He has curated several major exhibitions for the museum as well as leading the curatorial development of the museum’s partnership with Design Society in Shenzhen, China. He writes regularly about design for major publications including Disegno, Domus, and Metropolis, with a special interest in the cumulative effect of objects on a mass scale. He was previously managing editor of Volume Magazine.