European capitals of culture turning to design

Lille moved into the final third of its year as Cultural Capital of Europe last week, with the focus for the next four months firmly on design and architecture.

A series of events involving designers from across Europe will run until the end of November. The work on show encompasses disciplines from product to graphic design and events range from exhibitions to interactive installations (see box).

Among the more interactive events is Fluid Functions by Canadian designer Cynthia Hathaway, which invites shoppers at Euralille shopping centre to create new objects by subverting products they’ve just purchased.

Droog Event, a series of projects curated by Dutch group Droog Design, includes a major exhibition, called Open Borders (DW 9 September).

Exhibition design for its Open Borders show is by Madrid group 24h, which was briefed to create an artificial garden. The installation features a tree house, where visitors can look out over the space.

For the retail venture, called From Lille With Love, Droog tasked designers to make the most of Lille’s position as an international junction and build on its heritage in glass, ceramics and textiles. Products, which will be on sale for the duration of the event, include a lace parasol by Chris Kabel which gives shade that is reminiscent of tree foliage; and a glass designed by Wieki Somers that meets both Flemish and French needs, in that it is equally suited to wine or beer.

With the exception of lighting designer Paul Cocksedge, who is part of the Droog exhibition, luminaries of the UK design scene are thin on the ground.

Cork, which hosts City of Culture next year, may give British designers the opportunity to redress the balance. Events planned include a residency programme that invites artists and designers to work together with local communities and make their own contribution to the European Capital of Culture.

Liverpool will be City of Culture in 2008. A logo, website and marketing material were launched last week, created by ad agencies Finch and BBH and in-house teams respectively (DW 9 September). Further design work is likely to be up for grabs in the future.

Lille: design-led events, September to November

AVL, La View est Belle: Dutch group Atelier Van Lieshout exhibits its work (until 3 October).

B-Architecten: The Antwerp architectural practice takes over parts of the Maison Folie de Lille Wazemmes, with a bistro, an exhibition of its projects, a space for children, plus sound and video installations (until 29 September).

Light – Reaching for the Moon: An exhibition dedicated to Ingo Maurer, the German artist and designer renowned for his work with light (until 19 December).

Open Borders: Droog Design’s exhibition features the work of 80 designers, artists and architects from across Europe (until 28 November).

Strangely Familiar – Design and Everyday Life: Andrew Vlauvelt, design director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, curates an exhibition of 40 innovative projects across architecture, product, furniture and graphic design. Featured designers include Marcel Wanders, Ruiz de Azua, Bow Wow and Japanese group Elephant Design (until 28 November).

Trafic d’influences: Art et Design – The Frac Nord-Pas de Calais exhibits its design collection, comprising more than 600 pieces (until 28 November).

For more information:


Cork: For enquiries about the programme, contact director of programme development Mary McCarthy.

Liverpool: visit the website For information about design, the marketing director is Kris Donaldson.

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