After graduation at the Politecnico in Milan, Simona Malvezzi, founded Kuehn Malvezzi in Berlin in 2001. Public spaces, museums and exhibitions are the main focus of their work as architects, designers and curators. They realized the architectural design for Documenta 11, the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection in the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin, as well as the Julia Stoschek Collection in Dusseldorf. The firm has designed the reorganization of a number of contemporary and historical art collections, such as the Museum Belvedere in Vienna, the Museum Berggruen and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin. Recently completed projects include the extension of the Moderne Galerie of the Saarlandmuseum in Saarbrücken, as well as the conversion of the Prinzessinnenpalais on the Berlin’s Unter den Linden boulevard, to serve as the new cultural venue for the Deutsche Bank. Current projects are the interreligious House of One in Berlin and the new Insectarium in Montreal. Kuehn Malvezzi’s projects have been shown in various international solo and group exhibitions, including the 10th, 13th and 14th Architecture Biennial in Venice and Manifesta 7 in Trento. Kuehn Malvezzi participated in the 1st Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015 and in the 2nd edition in 2017.
What is exhibition architecture?
Our first hypothesis is: exhibition architecture is not a matter of interior design but of urban design. That is: exhibition architecture is the equivalent of city planning. Making a museum means making space rather than creating objects. If building design deals with
defining the shape of an object, exhibition design instead deals with the relation of artworks in space. Perhaps the shell of a museum works as an object like the famous Bilbao museum does. But its interior is not half as interesting. So we would like to advance another hypothesis: exhibition architecture being relational is best when almost invisible but at the same time formally very strong and autonomous. This might appear contradictory but it is not, on the contrary. Rather than aiming at creating a sort of style we rather want to create a very specific solution for each situation. It means not only responding to contexts but it actually means working on them, creating them. We could also call it ‘construction of the context’. Going back to Duchamp we want to indicate the readymade logic as the tool to
work with: a readymade is an object which acquires new sense due to being dislocated, that is due to being decontextualized and afterwards re-contextualized. Working on a readymade means that instead of working on the object itself you work on the context. You generate a new context for an existing object. We look at architecture as a form curatorial design: the architect as curatorial designer uses existing situations and objects like readymades in order to generate new spaces by manipulating their context. Design logic is addressed as design of perceptive space meaning space not taken as a geometrical event but as a perception being produced by the user or, in the case of exhibitions, the visitor, who participates in the event of the exhibition.