Depot Basel questions design and by that it pushes Swiss neutrality and its design scene to dangerous Alp tops ... Exciting!
Curator and Educator, Eindhoven
Wer heute von und über Design spricht, darf sich nicht mehr nur mit seinen sicht- und greifbaren Ergebnissen auseinandersetzen. Design ist ein Prozess, der reflektiert und gestaltet werden muss. Dieser Reflektion und Gestaltung bietet das Depot Basel einen Ort, der Menschen dazu einlädt, die Disziplin und ihre Themen zu diskutieren und zu erweitern. Dabei ist das Vorgehen dem Designprozess nicht unähnlich, denn es geht darum, sich auf Unvorhersehbares einzulassen, statt fertige Antworten zu präsentieren.
Redakteurin Form Magazin, Frankfurt am Main
Erst wenn die Gestaltung hin und wieder in ihre Einzelteile zerlegt wird, kann sie volle Wirkung entfalten. Das Depot Basel widmet sich dieser Aufgabe seit fünf Jahren mit einem kritischen und erwartungsvollen Blick. Ypieeehh!
In a world of increased ambiguity and uncertainty, it's crucial that creatives maintain their freedom and ability to respond critically. Finding a viable way to avoid the volatility and homogenization of the commercially-constrained cultural industry, Depot Basel employs an adaptive methodology that transcends location, praxis and audience. Often performance blends in with debate and exhibition formats to ensure dynamic engagements or reactions.
TLmag Editor at Large
Depot Basel is a strong confirmation that we finally find ourselves immersed in a field full of uncertainties rather than in one that pretends to solve humanity’s biggest problems. By challenging conventions around what design is (and should be), by shaking the core essence of the profession to its fundamental values, this fresh place for contemporary design has pioneered the existence of alternative spaces where ideas con flow freely without an agenda behind it. One can only hope to see more Depots opening their doors to independent designers all over the globe.
Juan Garcia Mosqueda
Founder, Director Chamber Gallery, New York
Depot Basel is a brave and uncompromising design platform that instigates debate before topics have been tested. They allow experimentation to inform their and our thinking and share generously. (It is sad not to be more often in Basel)
Associate Professor, MA Curating Contemporary Design at Kingston University London
Depot Basel ist ein alternativ-diskursiver Ausstellungsort von zeitkritischen Kulturschaffenden, denen es immer wieder gelingt, ambitionierte Anliegen mit grossem Engagement umzusetzen.
Gestalterischer Leiter Institut Integrative Gestaltung / Masterstudio Design FHNW HGK Basel
Thinking of Depot Basel, these words come to our mind: 'Tomorrow's designers will have to rely on the diffusion of free tools especially in those places that call for more horizontal urban practices and people oriented policies. Accordingly, the practice itself should be reformed and re-configured. Architecture has to be re-politicised in order to rediscover its own fundamental ethics and to regain its role as guarantor of urban and life (e)quality.'
Primitive Future Office, Milan
I first heard of Depot Basel in a kitchen in Kleinbasel somewhen around 2010. Living with two of the initiators, I was in the loop before they opened the doors for the first time. Since then, I’ve been working, eating, drinking, talking, speaking, discussing, criticising in one of the various venues Depot Basel has inhabited and transformed. All of these spaces somehow ‘belong’ to Depot Basel and part of Depot Basel’s former exhibition scenography now belongs to me. I’ve always appreciated Depot, not merely as a physical, but as a low-threshold, situated discursive space.
Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures (IXDM) FHNW HGK Basel
I appreciate Depot Basel for posing more questions on design than giving answers –
a rarity, not only in Switzerland.
Head of MA in Communication Design degree program at HKB Bern
Orte wie das Depot Basel leisten einen unverzichtbaren Beitrag zu den Fragen, die Gestalter aller Sparten beschäftigt: Was ist alles gestaltbar? Wie soll es gestaltet werden? Wer gestaltet? Zu welchem Zweck? Mit welchen Mitteln?
Reaktionsschnell, mutig, aufgeschlossen und immer ganz dicht am Puls der Zeit, kann das Depot Basel sich Themen widmen, bei denen das Resultat ungewiss ist. Hier ist das Scheitern Teil des Prozesses und wird ebenso ernst genommen wie der unverhoffte Fund in Form einer Antwort, einer Idee, eines Hinweises. Als offene Forschungswerkstatt bietet es eine einzigartige Plattform, die uns mit ihren Themen und Ideen immer wieder aufs neue überrascht.
Kuratorin Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein
For This Is Work a discursive and publishing experiment by the Fictional Collective and Depot Basel I was invited to contribute to the first chapter on Collective as a Method. Through the process I was exposed to a diversity of interdisciplinary exchanges with designers, artists and philosophers culminating in a very intense public discussion. The exchanges touched upon definitions of work, creative practices to financial conditions in which we exist. The experience for me was a very rewarding one enmeshing both the digital and analogue perspectives and experimenting towards a more current critical theory.
Architect and doctoral researcher at the chair of Sustainable Construction (SC), ETH Zurich
Liebes Depot Basel, von den Projekten, in die ich bei euch involviert war, möchte ich den Workshop »Das Wilde Denken« (2012 in Berlin) hervorheben. Dieser Workshop hat meine weitere Arbeit geprägt. Ich konnte einige der Ergebnisse und Erkenntnisse für meine Diss verwenden. Depot Basel hat mich in den letzten Jahren stets via Facebook und anderer Kanäle mit den neuesten Ideen zur Frage, was Designvermittlung bedeutet, versorgt. Spannend sind die vielen Workshopformate, die ihr entwickelt und erprobt. Manchmal ist es auch einfach nur gut, dass man sich mit anderen Designern treffen und austauschen kann. Für mich stehen daher weniger die Objekte im Vordergrund, als die Prozesse der Zusammenarbeit und des Kennenlernens.
Designer and Design Researcher, Offenbach
Freie und offene Räume als Nährboden für künstlerisiches Arbeiten – Das Depotbasel bildete für uns KünstlerInnen eine Durchgangszone für kreatives und emanzipiertes Arbeiten. Dabei inspirierten uns einerseits die Räumlichkeiten und deren Architektur, wie auch die Örtlichkeit des Voltaplatzes und dessen Einbettung im Quartier und der Stadt Basel. Die Gelegenheit Raum und Zeit zu haben für das unzensierte, spielerische Generieren von Material_ sozusagen die Schulung des naiven Blickes auf die Dinge _ um dann in einem weiteren Schritt diese Ansätze weiterzuverfolgen, war die Voraussetzung für unser Projekt „Depotreise“.
Wir schätzten es sehr das Vertrauen des Depotteams bekommen zu haben.
Simone Steinegger, Aline Stalder, Nadine Cueni
Students at Institut Kunst FHNW HGK Basel
Launched in 2011, honored with the first Kultur Förderpreis of Basel in 2012, nominated for the Swiss Federal Design Award for Mediation in 2013: no, not a new label. No fair, either – no festival, no showroom, no gallery. But a Depot, as Laura Pregger, Matylda Krzykowski, Moritz Walther, Elias Schäfer and Rebekka Kiesewetter have chosen to name their project. A room in which contemporary design is set up for discussion. A base of operation was found in the former grain storehouse on the Erlenmatt in Basle, and even though temporary, it was a rather perfect one. Perfectly made, actually, since the empty shell called for someone to make the first step and turn it into a space one would like to visit. An artistic endeavor. Exhibited there were the works of young designers and artists both local and from abroad, mostly unique objects or small series, put up for discussion in thematic exhibitions. And even though the presented objects were up for sale, the organizers did not claim any commissions. We want things to come into circulation; this is what it is about. The thought behind it: if the full profit goes to the designers and artists, new objects that illustrate how designing works can be created. For society, for individuals. This is what the makers of Depot Basel are interested in. And in that which was debated during the events they organized – not only in Basle, but also London, Warsaw and Zurich. What are the circumstances needed for products to be created? How should we live today and in the future? Can design change the world? But also: how do you mediate, why design is important? How do you exhibit design?
Financing through foundations and sponsoring remains difficult. This applies to all projects moving between borders. What contemporary design signifies needs to be communicated to a potential donor every time from scratch. Yet a simple look at the Depot could help come to a better understanding. Those who take the step comprehend the project. The road does not lead to the former grain storage, though: the temporary use has come to an end. From the Erlenmatt they are now moving to the harbor, to a new, yet again only temporary usable space. What does this mean for the project? It is not the end. Space is important, but only a means to an end. Depot Basel cleverly plays with the tensionbetween the concrete meeting space and the tight network, which goes way beyond Basel.
It is supported by the awareness of common interests that connect young designers and artists. It grows with every exchange among the like-minded and it is pushed onwards by virtual and analogue encounters. Underestimating the meaning a space can carry would not be wise, though. It is necessary to have a basis in order to project something into the world. As of now, fortune favors the diligent. This space too will not stay forever. Nevertheless: what better could have happened than to move to the harbor? To a place which marks the beginning of communication?
And this is what I wish the Depot Basel: that communication can continue to grow beyond the borders of the scene. Like-minded people can be found, undoubtedly. The greatest challenge will be to get those on board who are still indifferent towards their vision. Staying on the move is a beginning. Looking beyond the own comfort zone is a further step forwards. Explaining why design concerns us all and being heard while doing it will be the final goal.
Considering the importance of design in our society, it is still astonishing how few good exhibition spaces there are. This means that the search for contemporary exhibition spaces and concepts is more relevant than it has ever been. But in contrast to art or architecture, there are barely any role models in this area. Museums for applied art often only provide a niche for design; design centers lost their credibility through overly commercialized appearances. Large, specialized museums such as the Design Museum in London or the Vitra Design Museum successfully established themselves internationally, but present just one possibility of exhibiting design. Because doing that, does not necessarily mean a museum with a collection or a multidisciplinary venue placing their emphasis on big themes. It is also the young and independent exhibition spaces, in which experimentation is happening, in which the borders of the discipline are stretched, that would be important. Only then, when such small institutions can grow alongside the large design museums, when a multitude of exhibition formats are formed and ambitious curators can bring in their perspectives, will design be recognized as a living part of our cultural landscape.
In this area, Depot Basel has been a pioneer. It sets its emphasis on the charisma of the improvised while being highly professional at the same time. It has understood that concept and production are steadily edging closer towards each other and implemented this idea in exhibition concepts. It provides a space in which everything is possible, but the possible is also critically questioned – on its relevance, its quality, its novelty. Designers love the term innovation and Depot Basel paradoxically achieved to shape it into an institution. Or is it maybe just a platform, to use another favorite word of the scene? It does not matter. Either way, the result is an enrichment for the contemporary design scene and one can only hope that it will continue on as it has.
Director, Vitra Design Museum