studio am

design musings & articles by an michiels


Article on i.s.m.architecten in DECORS (BE)
3 monthly edition Sept-Oct-Nov 2012

Images Sarah Blee

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 15.20.39

elle magazine/design contributions

Elle Magazine (BE)
Compilaton of Design Page April/Mai 2012
& design contributions July 2012

Click image for full pdf

Elle Magazine contributions

stephen jones/momu antwerp

Another Christmas break, another visit to Antwerp. This time around I went to see Stephen Jones – The Accent of Fashion in the MOMU Fashion Museum. A lot has been written about it already, but I can only confirm that it is very much worth visiting, even if hats are not your dada.

The exhibition design was conceived by Geert Bruloot, who owns the largest collection of Jones’ hats and who established Antwerp’s most famous fashion shop ‘Louis’ back in 1986. The show has been split up in four themes, each represented by an impressive blown up version of a key hat and mixed with bold fashion by designers Jones collaborated with throughout his career. His work looks finely crafted and sophisticated but it is light at the same time with the occasional hilarious touch. Would you prefer some egg and bacon on your hat, or maybe a creation with deconstructed barbie dolls? On until the 13th of February.

Can I just mention how much I appreciated that photography was allowed at the MOMU. It is great to be able to spread the word about inspiring exhibitions, even if it is on a small scale. I was at the Design Museum in London a while ago and was told off for taking photos – with my phone – of their current Fashion Illustration exhibition. Such a missed opportunity for them. They are probably contemplating how to implement new media from higher up while the power really lies with passionate visitors themselves … free advertising guys?! Right, that’s off my chest!

Stephen Jones 01
Stephen Jones 02
Stephen Jones & Walter
Stephen Jones 03

1. Stephen Jones 2. Science theme/Blow Up of ‘Soho’ 3. Image of fez for Jean Paul Gaultier 1984
4. Adventure theme/Blow Up of ‘London’ 5. Adventure theme /’Eggs&Bacon’ & ‘French Onion Soup’
6-7. Science theme/Stephen Jones & Walter Van Beirendonck
8. Rococo theme/Stephen Jones for Comme des Garçons 9. Glamour theme/’In Private’ & ‘Myra’ 10. Glamour theme/photoprint diadem ‘Ecstacy’ in foreground

Photos by An Michiels.

photography/guy bourdin/madrid

Don’t underestimate the power of advertising on the tube.  While visiting Madrid last weekend in a desperate attempt to soak up some sun before we head into winter, I came across a poster for a Guy Bourdin exhibition that proved well worth visiting.  Always nice to stumble upon things that are a bit off the beaten track too, this show took place in a beautiful water works tower near the Ríos Rosas tube station.  The exact name of the place is Sala de Exposiciones Del Canal Isabel II de la Comunidad de Madrid and the exhibition runs until the 14th of November.  Make sure you take some form of ID as it is within some city council grounds with quite tight security.

The show was curated by Nicolle Meyer – muse and model of Bourdin in the late 70’s – for the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2003 and has toured the world since. Apart from his striking photographs, storyboard style sketches, poems and magazines have been included.  If you don’t know Bourdin’s work yet, check it out here. He managed to work as a fashion photographer for French Vogue for over 30 years, from the mid 50’s to the late 80’s.  It is remarkable that – apart from the odd 70’s prop – the images in the show don’t look dated at all. It’s pretty clear that the David Lachapelles of this world admire him too: it’s loud, surreal and seductive.  A winner I’d say!

Guy Bourdin

JJAM curators collective/everyday delights

Julia Jarvis and An Michiels of JJAM Curators Collective created a postcard book including all 46 winning designs of the Everyday Delights exhibition, which took place at Tent London in September 2010 during the London Design Festival.

JJAM Curators Collective challenged London-based designers to reinvent the classic yellow duster in a way that we never imagined before.  The project aims to use the most banal everyday object – the duster – to promote the creativity of London’s contemporary design scene.

More info

Paypal image S

artfeelers/jonathan wateridge

Whenever I have the intention to check out some of the East End galleries on my doorstep, it inevitably turns into a social event – read drinking cheap beers on Vyner Street on the first Thursday of the month.  This time around I decided to spend some quality gallery time and joined the Artfeelers Tour.  Claire Flannery’s no nonsense approach – insights in contemporary art understandable for all, no overkill and a perfectly timed pub break – worked well.  End of the day it is a Saturday afternoon event and not a highbrow insiders club. The tour includes introductions from the actual gallerists or curators and encourages to chat with fellow Artfeelers, in my case Betsy-from-New-York and Leonardo-the-Italian-painter (no not that Leonardo).  We dropped by Hales Gallery in the Tea Building to check out the work of contemporary ceramic artist Richard Slee, followed by Kaleid Edition‘s exhibition on fine artists’ books, then off to Kemistry‘s show on Zero Per Zero’s graphic design series called ‘City Railway Systems’ and finally All Visual Arts‘ show on Jonathan Wateridge’s intriguing work at the Tramshed on Rivington Street.

See some images of Jonathan Wateridge’s ‘Another Place’ below.  On photo the work might look photorealistic, but it actually has very painterly qualities, which is worth checking out.  It is a series of seven large oil paintings (2.8x4m!) depicting scenes from the production and narrative of a fictional American film that is centred on an unseen catastropic event.   The ‘actors’ in the scenes are Wateridge’s friends and the virtual 1:1 scale seems to invite you to step into the painting, only if you dare.  Very loaded, weird and wonderful.

Jonathan Wateridge Another Place

Jonathan Wateridge ‘Another Place’.  Image by All Visual Arts

Artfeelers Tour 01

Curators talk at the Jonathan Wateridge Show  –  Claire Flannery (Artfeelers) & Leonardo Magnani

film/carless LA

After a month long trip to Shanghai to work on a Kingston University x British Council project on the legacy of the Expo, I am back in lalalondonland!  With the expo theme ‘Better city, Better life’ still ringing in my head, I came across Ross Ching‘s time lapse film on a ‘carless’ LA.  He pictured the unimaginable, quite surreal indeed!


art/chiharu shiota/haunch of venison

If you happen to hang out in central London one of these days, pop by the Haunch of Venison gallery and check out Chiharu Shiota‘s intriguing immersive installations.  They were a nice surprise afer visiting the Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts around the corner.   The lack of blockbuster queues at the Haunch of Venison and the possibility to get close to the work without having tons of audioguide-clad zombies breathing down your neck were a real treat!

No queues for Shiota’s show yet, but her CV is impressive enough anyway, with recent shows in the Hayward Gallery in London (part of the Walking in My Mind exhibition), the Moskou Biennale and recent shows in the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa among others.  The current show exists of two site specific installations and a room with a series of her smaller ‘boxed’ thread works.  ‘One Place’ was made from 400 windows from demolition sites in East Berlin and is a metaphor for an opening and a barrier at the same time.  They give evidence of a claustrophobic experience that East Berliners endured through the Wall for almost 30 years.  The second installation ‘During Sleep’ is a black string installation that has a bed trapped in its impenetrable nets.  It plays with dreams and anxiety and has an eerie atmosphere that works very well when you’re the only visitor in the room.  The show is on until the 27th of March and is worth the detour.

Chiharu Shiota One Place

Chiharu Shiota During Sleep

Chiharu Shiota’s site specific installations ‘One Place’ and ‘During Sleep’ at the Haunch of Venison.
Photos: An Michiels

And if you did manage to bag tickets for Vincent in the Royal Academy, just go for it and brave the crowds!   You will get rewarded with the chance to witness his intelligence and drive, look beyond the cliché of the one-eared madman and get an insight in his broad range of influences – from Japanese block prints to Dickens’ literature.

art/michael johansson

I came across Michael Johansson’s work Ghost II while browsing on, an interesting blog with words and visuals by Folkert & Atley.  Worth visiting for a virtual stroll in the park, but beware it might turn into a lengthy walk cause there’s a lot of nice stuff on it!


Michael Johansson, Ghost II Installation in Galleri Arnstedt, Sweden (2009).

I got interested in Johansson’s installations and found loads more on his website.  I particularly like the Strings Attached series which shows his fascination with model kits and everyday objects.



Michael Johansson, Strings Attached series:  TOYS’R’US (2006), Kitchen Assembly (2008) & Some Assembly Required (2007).

MJ: ‘Fascinated by assembling objects from model kits as a child, Michael Johansson transforms everyday objects into models of themselves. Taking away their original purpose, the life-size kits hold a commentary on today’s ways of living. In his first piece from the series, TOYS’R’US, a boat and related equipment are joined together in a welded metal frame. Everything is painted in a unifying plastic layer to resemble the surface of a model kit. The piece was created for the Besökarna exhibition in the western harbour of Malmö, an area developed as a demonstration project to provide a model for future cities. Today, many years later, the area still feels like a model. The artificial atmosphere awaits to break loose from its surrounding plastic frame. The boat which floated in the harbour for one month was a reflection on the utopian developments.

Moving to a more domestic realm in Engine Bought Separately a selection from mid-20th century housewife appliances are taken apart, sorted, and reassembled into an equally outdated boydream aesthetics. These two worlds are merged together and the objects are frozen in their new shape – while their function is displayed, the functionality is taken away.

Reversing the steps in the line of production, in Some Assembly Required, parts from bikes and scooters are turned back into a space of imagination and spin concepts such as size and belonging. The title of the series taken from a commonly found phrase on the boxes for model kits, reminding buyers of their participatory role, points out to the role expected from the audience in finding references and therefore giving shape and meaning to the works.’

art/hoet bekaert gallery/ghent

Jan Hoet Jr. and Delphine Bekaert’s gallery rocks!  They have been supporting young contemporary artists for several years now. Since 2005 they occupy an interesting space in the centre of Ghent (Belgium), a classic white cube gallery with a twist.  At the rear of the space you’ll find a big open kitchen, where their opening brunches are being held.  The kitchen seems to be a great gathering space that takes the edge off the seriousness of a traditional gallery.  I felt pretty temped to make myself a coffee!

The have quite a few big spatial works on display in ‘A show 2010’.  The staircase to nowhere by Hannes van Severen and a mirror piece by Joris van de Moortel caught my eye.  This show runs until the 28th of February and the next one with works of Kelly Schacht is opening on the 21st of March.

You can check Hoet Bekaert out on the Armory Show in NYC this March and on fairs like Art Brussels and Frieze London later in the year or just hop over to the lively city of Ghent, which offers medieval architecture, canals and the fantastic SMAK contemporary art museum amongst others.  Hoet Bekaert has two beautiful rooms available above the gallery for those who want an alternative to a hotel – see details on ‘sweet dreams’ section of their website.  Great idea, this is not just a static gallery space, it has life revolving
around it.

Hoet Bekaert two

Work by Joris van de Moortel / Hannes Van Severen

Hoet Bekaert

Work by Kelly Schacht / Hoet Bekaert Gallery Kitchen
Courtesy Hoet Bekaert Gallery
All photos: An Michiels

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