Design in 2020 – what will exhibition design look like?

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As part of our 2020 design series, set designer Gitta Gschwendtner takes a look at what’s going to happen in exhibition design over the next 12 months.

What do you think 2020 will hold in exhibition design?

I fear we face a bleak future with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister for another 5 years and Brexit is looming. So I think the exhibitions will have to offer a much needed escape. We’re not in a recession yet and budgets aren’t completely depleted, so there may well be one last hurray before it gets really dark. I could imagine that 2020 will bring some extravagant, immersive exhibits that will take visitors outside of reality and infuse a bit of whimsy into their lives. I imagine the next V&A exhibition on Alice in Wonderland Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will arrive here.

Asset strippers. Courtesy of Tate Photography, Mike Nelson.

What was your favorite exhibition design project of 2019 and why?

Contrary to my opulent exhibition prediction for 2020, my favorite show of 2019 was Mike Nelson’s The Asset Strippers on Tate Britain. I absolutely loved the disused industrial machines, beautiful and fat, telling stories of past production and visions of society. Mike Nelson paid homage to the origins of the Duveen Galleries as the first specially constructed sculpture galleries in England and elevated industrial machines to works of art. Placed in the superb central galleries, they have become beautiful and proud markers of a lost time. Their placement and juxtaposition was also awesome.


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