top of page
Mnemosyne Atlas
The Human Scale
United Micro Kingdoms

MAN transFORMS, Hans Hollein (curator), Cooper Hewitt Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, 1967.

‘Hollein was not interested in creating a showroom of so-called good design but rather an exhibition that focused on the sensory and experiential aspects of design’ (As Seen: Exhibitions That Made Architecture and Design History, 2017, Zoe Ryan (editor), The Art Institute of Chicago: USA.).


‘Hollein was interested in the relationship between humans and their environments, and he was also fascinated by the variety found in everyday objects such as bread, cloth, stars, hammers and doors. The rooms devoted to these objects demonstrated that although design can be understood ‘as an approach to a problem,’ that doesn’t mean that form always follows function in a single universal way. MAN transFORMS not only sought to convince viewers of the transformative effects of design in daily life, but also desired to transform their understanding of design through the medium of the exhibition itself’ (Ryan, 2017).

Mnemosyne Atlas, Amy Warburg, 1924-29, Germany.

Mnemosyne Atlas is Aby Warburg’s attempt to map the “afterlife of antiquity,” or how images of great symbolic, intellectual, and emotional power emerge in Western antiquity and then reappear and are reanimated in the art and cosmology of later times and places, from Alexandrian Greece to Weimar Germany. Focusing especially on the Renaissance, the historical period where he found the struggle between the forces of reason and unreason to be most palpable, Warburg hoped that the Mnemosyne Atlas would allow its spectators to experience for themselves the “polarities” that riddle culture and thought.

Andreas Møl Dalsgaard, The Human Scale, 2012, Denmark.

The Human Scale is a documentary by Andreas Møl Dalsgaard, presenting the way we live in megacities today and consequences such as peak oil, climate change, loneliness and severe health issues. The movie brings up the problematic relationship between the people and the built environment with asking if it is possible to plan the cities according to the human needs and intimacy.

Dunne & Raby, United Micro Kingdoms, 2012-3, UK.

UMK is a project presenting perspectives on a fictional future for the United Kingdom. It sees England devolved into four self-contained counties (Digitarians, The Communo-nuclearist, The Anarcho-evolutionists) each free to experiment with governance, economy and lifestyle. These 'live laboratories' interrogate the cultural and ethical impact of existing and new technologies and how they alter the way we live.

Dunne & Raby, The School of Constructed Realities, 2014, UK.

The School of Constructed Realities is a fictitious school project which is different from the conventional concept of school. Some of the school’s subjects are “Rhetoric, Ethics, and Critical Theory”, “Impossible Architecture”, “Scenario Making and Worldbuilding”, “Ideology and Found Realities”, “CGI and Simulation Techniques”, “The History of Propaganda, Conspiracy Theories, Hoaxes, and Advertising.” Also, the way of expressing the projects can be various forms of reality: mixed, immersive, simulated, unmediated etc.

Faye Toogood, Fictitious Fruits, 2015, UK.

Under the direction of Faye Toogood, a group of designers and artists asked to respond to an abandoned walled garden at an ancient French estate. As a result, the space was filled with some fictional oversized fruits also functioning as soft furniture.

Fluxes Boxes

Fluxus boxes were a peculiar form of expression in which the artist gathered a series of objects, cards, materials and components and assembled them in boxes, suitcases or other containers. The assemblage was created with multiple purposes in mind: creating suggestions and tangible poetics by juxtaposing things was something that the cinematographic montage had learned since the beginning of the century, and it was also explored by musicians such as Cage, where the sounds of known objects acted on levels that are simultaneously physical, symbolic and referring to memory and cultures. Fluxus boxes were intended as non-linear narratives to be handled, touched, performed, disseminated, destroyed, reassembled, counted and reconfigured.

Hiroko Shiratori, Unusual Objects from Japan 1868-1945, 2006, London, UK.

After more than 200 years of isolation Japan open its border to the world and the subsequent rapid development eventually persuaded the country into a number of international conflicts. the project is about developing a series of unique fictitious artefacts, a parallel history based on scenarios pertaining to these new influences, which in turn, address universal issues in both the past and the present.



Joseph Cornell, Shadow Boxes

Shadow Boxes series are glass-fronted boxes into which he placed and arranged Victorian bric-a-brac, old photographs, dime-store trinkets, and other found elements. They enable the viewer to see each component from a new aspect. Cornell often used the shadow boxes to address recurrent themes of interest such as childhood, space, and birds and they represented an escape of sorts for their creator, who was famously reclusive.

Kon Wajiro, Archaeology of Present Times, 1920s, Tokyo, Japan.

Kon Wajiro documents the memories of Japanese civilisation in an attempt to keep their testimony in the event of their sudden disappearance or of their possible fading due to modernisation. He meticulously traces houses and types of furniture, ways of dressing and commodities, ordinary objects and people’s habit, generating a complex visual taxonomy of the transition of a culture toward modernity.

Parsons and Charlesworth, New Survivalism, 2014.

To accompany the New Survivalism bug-out bags project for the Istanbul Design Biennial, we created a tool for assessing what might be valuable to us in the not-too-distant future. A choose-your-own-adventure-style questionnaire, this adaptive manifesto guides us to reflect on who we are as individuals and what a crisis might mean for our interests. The handout, designed with Christopher Roeleveld, features the six protagonist stories and illustrations on the front side and a “What's In Your Bug Out Bag?” workshop flow chart on the reverse.

Parsons and Charlesworth, Golden Section Finder, Chicago, USA.

The Golden Section Finder is a lens through which the user can find the proportional “perfection” in his/her surroundings. It is basically a semi-transparent coloured lens that the “golden section” is applied on. This instrument can enable the users to contemplate the idea of sublimity and the pseudoscience of Phrenology.

Taizo Yamamoto, Taxonomy of The Ordinary, 2005-8, Vancouver, Canada.

Taizo Yamamoto makes hyper-detailed pencil drawings of unusual subjects. His series of shopping carts is based on the out of context use of these objects as a means to collect and transport goods by the city homeless.

Anatolian Weights and Measures Collection, Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey.

The collection consists of objects dating from prehistory to those used in present day Anatolia. These comprise the main types of scales and measuring instruments, used for measuring weight, length, and volume in every field, from land measurement to commerce, architecture to jewellery making, shipping to the pharmacy.

Architectural Detective Agency (ADA), 1974, Terunubu Fujimori and Takeyoshi Hori, Tokyo, Japan.

The Architectural Detective Agency (ADA) was founded in 1974 by architect-historians Terunobu Fujimori and Takeyoshi. They undertook field research to document structures that were disappearing or that had been excluded from official Japanese architectural history. The detectives walked with cameras and sketchbooks, taking stock of the city. They dressed for infiltration as well as documentation. When buildings were threatened with demolition, the detectives mobilized to produce complete sets of photographic and drawn documentation, often interviewing architects and collecting as much reference and archival material as possible.

Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), 1875, Saint-Cloud, Paris, France.

BIPM is an intergovernmental organization that was established by the Metre Convention, through which member states act together on matters related to measurement science and measurement standards. The BIPM was created in 1875 to provide basis for a single, coherent system of measurements throughout the world, traceable to the International System of Units (SI). This tasks many forms, for direct dissemination of units (as in case of mass and time) to coordination through international comparisons of national measurement standards (as in electricity and ionizing radiation).


The Central Office of Information (UK), 1935-2012.

The Central Office of Information (COI) was the UK government's marketing and communications agency. Its Chief Executive reported to the Minister for the Cabinet Office. It was a non-ministerial department, and became an executive agency and a trading fund, recovering its costs from the other departments, executive agencies and publicly funded bodies which used its services. It was established in 1946 as the successor to the wartime Ministry of Information. It worked with Whitehall departments and public bodies to produce information campaigns on issues that affected the lives of British citizens, from health and education to benefits, rights and welfare.

The Dharma Initiative, Orientation Videos (fictional), date n/a

Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications is a fictional research project featured in the television series Lost. The Initiative's general goal was to manipulate scientific laws in order to change any of the six factors of the Valenzetti Equation, a sequence that was believed to have some connection to the date marking the end of humanity, in hopes of delaying such a date.

Global Tools, 1973-5, Italy.

Global Tools was a multidisciplinary experimental program of design education founded in 1973 in Italy by the members of the Radical Architecture including Ettore Sottsass Jr. and Andrea Branzi among others. It was conceived as a diffuse system of laboratories (firstly in Florence, Milan and Naples) promoting the “[…] study and use of natural materials and their behavioural characteristics” with the support of media (namely the magazine Casabella) and aimed to establish an alternative relation with the Italian Industry. The idea underpinning this system of laboratories was to conjugate the most utopian and intransigent aspirations of Radical Architecture with alternative life solutions promoted by designer and educator Victor Papanek, and Stewart Brand’s The Whole Earth Catalog, in order to invent new operational “tools” for the upcoming era of globalization. Global Tools initiators invested in building a program of research and education outside of the institutional frame with the goal to free individual creativity from cultural superstructures that hindered or slowed its expressive capacity.

Institute for the Future, 1968, Palo Alto, USA.

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) is a Palo Alto, California, US–based not-for-profit think tank. It was established, in 1968, as a spin-off from the RAND Corporation to help organizations plan for the long-term future, a subject known as futures studies.

La Norme Idéale, 2017, Brussels, Belgium.

It’s an exhibition brings up different topics such as the ways of life rationalization and its actualization through standardization.


Mass Observation, 1937, Sussex, UK.

The Archive holds the papers generated by the original Mass Observation organisation between 1937 and 1949, with a few later additions from the 1950s as well as some documents from the 1960s. The material collected by Mass Observation falls into two main categories personal writings and topic collections. First category includes a national panel of volunteer writers were recruited to reply to regular questionnaires and tasks, including writing diaries. Topic collections include a team of paid investigators went into a variety of public situations and recorded people's behaviour and conversation in as much detail as possible.

Monty Pyhton, The Ministry of Silly Walks, 1970s.

"The Ministry of Silly Walks" is a sketch from the Monty Python comedy troupe's television show Monty Python's Flying Circus, season 2, episode 1, which is entitled "Face the Press".

Roadway Obeservation Society (ROJO), 1986, Terunubu Fujimori, Shinbo Minami, Tetsuo Matsuda and Joji Hayashi, Tokyo, Japan.

Terunobu Fujimori and his friends Shinbo Minami, Tetsuo Matsuda, and Joji Hayashi established the Roadway Observation Society, or ROJO, to develop the idea of “kogen-gaku” in 1986. Together with housewives, pink-collar workers, and community residents, they roamed the streets of Tokyo observing and documenting living conditions and environments. Pedestrians’ clothing, garbage left on the roadside, tin sheds, manhole covers, and plants in front of houses all became subjects of inquiry. They observed the city from the standpoint of the commoner and sorted out the social fabric of urban architecture through everyday objects.

The Penny Cyclopedia, 1833-43, London, UK.

The Penny Cyclopædia published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was a multi-volume encyclopedia edited by George Long and published by Charles Knight alongside the Penny Magazine. Twenty-seven volumes and three supplements were published from 1833 to 1843.

The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK), 1826, London, UK.

The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK), founded in 1826, was a Whiggish London organisation that published inexpensive texts intended to adapt scientific and similarly high-minded material for the rapidly expanding reading public. It was established mainly at the instigation of Lord Brougham with the objective of publishing information for people who were unable to obtain formal teaching, or who preferred self-education.

Super Normal: Sensations of The Ordinary, 2006, Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison, Tokyo, Japan.

‘Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison coined the term ‘super normal’ to describe two broad categories of objects: anonymously designed items so ubiquitous that we no longer notice them, and designer-made products that appear so unremarkable that they hardly seem designed’ (Ryan, 2017).

‘There is an element of protest in the Super Normal show. Both Fukasawa and Morrison resent the mediatisation of design and the tendency of young designers, in particular, to fall into the trap of creating superficially spectacular objects to generate media coverage, rather than to be used’ (Alice Rawsthorn, ‘Celebrating the Beauty of Super Normal’ Little Objects of Daily Life, ‘International Herald Tribune, June 12, 2006, p.6).



z33 Research, Hasselt, Belgium.

Z33 Research re-enforces and recapitulates strands of thought and research from exhibition projects of Z33 House of Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium. Thematic art and design research studios – Studio Time, Studio Work and Studio Space – accumulate and connect the practice-based and academic research into an evolving body of knowledge. Z33 Research online (beta) collects and connects these different research threads.


Zoe Ryan & Christien Meindertsma, The Interconnection of Everything.

Tim Parsons & Jessica Charlesworth, Curating Everyday Life.

Fiona Raby & Anthony Dunne, From Speculative Everything to Impossible Objects.

Marco D'eramo & Mike Davis, The Pig and The Skyscraper.

Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft: Quality.

The School of Constructed Realities
Fictitious Fruits
Fluxes Boxes
Unusual Objects from Japan 1868-1945
Shadow Boxes
Archaeology of Present Times
New Survivalism
Golden Section Finder
Taxonomy of The Ordinary
Anatolian Weights and Measures Collection
Architectural Detectice Agency
The Central Office of Information
The Dharma Initiative
Global Tools
La Norme Idéale
Mass Observation
The Ministry of Silly Walks
The Penny Cyclopedia
Super Normal
z33 Research
The Interconnection of Everything
Extrastatecraft: Quality
From Speculatice Everything to Impossible Objects
The Pig and The Skyscaper
Curating Everyday Life
bottom of page