The Ruin
A project composed of eight fragments of recent exhibitions and a parallel programme

The Ruin: 8 fragments of recent exhibitions

The Machine

Designing a New Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution is regarded as the revolution of the engineers, but today it is designers who are heralding a new revolution. By now they form part of much larger networks that enable them to develop new materials or their own methods of production and innovative distribution systems. The Machine shows how tomorrow’s machines and the related methods of production will shape our lives and our social system.

This development is so fundamental that people are already talking about a Third Industrial Revolution. For Het Nieuwe Instituut this is a reason to devote a lot of attention to these radical developments in various activities. Tal Erez, who also contributes to The Machine, will focus mainly on the future role of the user as designer within the long-term programme ‘Things and Materials’, while in September the new cultural year will open with the exhibition ‘Bio-Design’ (provisional title), which will go further into the fusing of design, science and nature, curated by the writer William Myers.

Curator: Jan Boelen / Z33, Hasselt

City Hall

The scale models of the Rotterdam City Hall are almost 100 years old. They embody new forms of historiography and the creation of an architectural canon. Besides the fact that they are monumental objects, their history is also remarkable. Initially they were showpieces of the Rotterdam City Council to showcase an urban ambition. The negative opinion on the City Hall in the press and the emphasis on Rotterdam as the city of modern architecture led to a disqualification, and the scale models were seriously neglected. In 2005 they were incorporated in the collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Het Nieuwe Instituut uses this presentation to point to various important themes for the near future: the specificity of a local context, the importance of history and heritage as a mirror of the present, and not least the richness of its own architecture archive, which is probably the largest in the world. Various research projects will be started in the near future, partly on the basis of a cooperation project with the Delft University of Technology. This programme will be based on the multi-faceted nature of the architecture archive of Het Nieuwe Instituut. This will already lead to several exhibitions next year in the 2014 programme, which tackles the history of progress of the past 100 years. These will include ‘Structuralism’ (provisional title) in combination with a solo exhibition on the oeuvre of the architect Herman Herzberger. The first results of the Structuralism research project, a joint project with the Delft University of Technology, the Berlage Institute and Volume Magazine, will be presented on 3 September.

Curator: Ellen Smit / Het Nieuwe Instituut


Ever since the second half of the twentieth century, jewellery design has been one of the most eye-catching disciplines in the Netherlands. Operating outside the demands of a large-scale market and the limitations of industry, and thanks to the remarkable talent of such designers as Gijs Bakker, Emmy van Leersum and others, in those years the item of jewellery was to become the reference point for renewal and experiment in the Netherlands. Marjan Unger was invited to present a selection of jewellery within the context of The Ruin and thereby to reveal the working method and perspective of this group of ‘self-producing’ designers.

Nowadays the questions that were raised at the time – status, gender, wearability – seem to have declined in importance, while renewal and experiment are more connected with technological changes. All the same, elements of the thinking of the period are still very much alive within what is now called social design. According to some, social issues are not only necessarily connected with the imaginative quality of a subdiscipline, as in the case of jewellery in the past, but have more connection with a democratised design field and are strongly orientated towards DIY and bottom-up practices. For Het Nieuwe Instituut this is sufficient to start up not only a research and exhibition programme, but also a studio programme in which such theoretical practices can be fully addressed. The first programme will be launched next month in which the question of social design as a social methodology will be examined on the basis of three design questions.

Curator: Marjan Unger / Het Nieuwe Instituut

Playboy Architecture


Playboy Architecture shows how architecture and design were used by the Playboy magazine as important instruments for the development of a new identity for the American man. Playboy was to be of crucial importance for the way in which (interior) architecture developed in the 1960s and 1970s.

The specificity of the interior as the interface between architecture and design and the home as a hothouse for architectural innovations will lead to a variety of projects, including a series of temporary homes, within the long-term programme ‘Interior and Landscape’, which will start in 2014. Each home is intended to provide a present-day response to the utopian ambitions that lie behind the design of the Sonneveld Villa Museum and the Chabot Museum. Both of these buildings stand next to Het Nieuwe Instituut and directly facing the designated building location, forming as it were the historical reference within this project.

Curator: Beatriz Colomina

DEAF and Unstable

The Dutch Electronic Art Festival (DEAF) is an interdisciplinary biennial in the field of art, technology and society. DEAF profiles art and culture as the engine of social renewal. DEAF was set up by V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media, an interdisciplinary centre for art and media technology in Rotterdam. The Sentient City Survival Kit will be presented in the context of The Ruin. This project includes a collection of instruments for survival in the ‘sentient city’ of the near future. Sentient City Survival Kit anticipates this near future and not only offers a new insight into the virtual reality of the future city, but at the same time arms the urbanite against being dominated too much by this invisible reality, which seems to elude democratic control.

Sentient City Survival Kit stands first of all for the intention of both V2_, Institute for Unstable Media and The New Institute to cooperate in future editions of DEAF. At the same time this project connects innovation with conflict, and thereby touches on an important focus of Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Curator: Mark Shephard

Werkstadt Vienna

Design Engaging the City

The exhibition shows how traditional materials, craftsmen and craft industries from the city of Vienna form a breeding ground for new designs. Werkstadt Vienna shows not only what happens when young designers are confronted by traditional techniques, but also how important local and regional production methods are as an engine of innovation.

A new, democratised culture of making appears thanks to the introduction of the 3D printer, thereby putting considerable pressure on the distinction between professional and amateur, principal and designer, and maker and user. In this connection, the artisanal method of the self-producing designer suddenly ceases to be an anachronism. Within Het Nieuwe Instituut's studio programme explicit attention will be focused in the coming period on these new work relations. There will also be a more detailed investigation of the future practice of the designer in a period in which, under terms like co-creation, the role of the user will be increasingly determinant for the process of designing and making.

Curator: Sophie Lovell, Studio Makkink Bey

Evil Media Distribution Centre

Matsuko Yokokoji & Graham Harwood (YoHa) invited 51 people to choose a so-called grey medium and to write a short text about it. This text was then presented together with the object in a cabinet of curiosities that at the same time evoked associations with a distribution centre. Evil Media Distribution Centre is a response to the book Evil Media (2012) by Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey. In that book the authors argue for a broader notion of media and a deeper, more complex understanding of how these grey media influence the way we behave, think and perceive. The installation was previously shown at the Transmediale (Berlin, 2013).

Artists Matsuko Yokokoji & Graham Harwood

Treppen, High Rise/Down Fall

The series Treppen focuses on recent buildings in Egypt that will probably never be finished because of the drop in the volume of tourists. These ‘intermediate constructions’ refer not only to the classic etchings of Piranesi or to Freudian dream interpretation in which interior features such as stairs are given sexual connotations. They also bear witness to the direct and dynamic relation between architecture, urban planning, landscape and the economy. That relation will be closely monitored in the future, for example in the programme ‘Interior and Landscape’. A renewed partnership with the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), which will be entitled ‘Urban by Nature’ next year, and the contents of the Dutch contribution to the biennales in São Paulo and Shenzhen later this year, both also fit in with this theme.

High Rise/Down Fall
This series of photographs by Schwartz offers a melancholy picture of the well-known MVRDV pavilion during EXPO 2000 in Hannover. After all, this pavilion symbolises an entrepreneurial and innovative Netherlands that identifies publicly and on an international platform with the innovative strength of architecture and design. And now the same building is an equally potent symbol of the cuts in spending on culture imposed by the previous Dutch cabinet. The relation between culture, politics and entrepreneurship is thus also in need of recalibration, and Het Nieuwe Instituut sees its core task to be making a fundamental contribution to the debate concerning the creative industry and the question of innovation. A part of this is the 2015 programme, that will go further into the phenomenon of the World Expo and more specifically the forthcoming edition in Milan.

Curator/artist: Johannes Schwartz

Frank Bruggeman, Eric Roelen
Karel Martens, Marc Hollenstein

Het Nieuwe Instituut is introducing a summer programme from 21 June 2013 under the title The Ruin. All in an awareness that everything passes and then comes back again, but in a slightly different guise.