CFP: Exhibition Design DEA (Paris, 13-15 Jun 19)

University Paris 8, ENSA Paris-Malaquais, June 13 – 15, 2019
Deadline: Apr 7, 2019

Design d’espace / Allestimento / Exhibition Design
Methods, Issues, Conceptual Shifts

In 1937, Herbert Bayer defined exhibition design as a complex visual language structured both on the dialectic between different elements (Fundamentals of Exhibition Design, 1937) and, more generally, on the treatment of space and its narration. In 1982, with the text “Allestimenti/Exhibit Design”, and later in 1988, with the volume “Mostrare. Allestimento in Italia dagli anni Venti agli anni Ottanta,” Sergio Polano suggested a clear definition of the practice of the exhibition design. By seeking to articulate its history through the lens of the design production, the Italian theorist recognized in this notion: “[…] the art to design the interiors for the dwelling of objects temporarily collected in that totality (unicum) that should be the exhibition” (Polano 1988). In the same period, in Paris, the Cabinet d’Arts Graphiques of the Pompidou Center insisted on the creative potential of the exhibition and its role within the process of creating a work of art, by organizing an exhibition on the theme of “L’œuvre et son accrochage” (1986).

Over the years, the problem of the exhibition design has been interpreted within theoretical articulations, often controversial, that have studied the practice of setting up, both as a result (i.e. as the product of a planning construction) and as a creative process in itself. The current state of research shows a change of focus concerning this traditional approach. No longer only probed in its essential declinations (as an exhibition paradigm), the exhibition design is declined also in relation to the built environment, the urban space, installations and visual arts, and the living intended as an expression of the places of collective life. A new image of the exhibition design thus arises: i.e. a place of aesthetic experimentation, an intellectual process that links together various forms of showing within processes of spectatorship interrelation.

Today, at a time when the exhibition design is called upon to respond to new and more complex social realities, it, therefore, seems urgent to return investigating the heuristic potential of such a discipline. By using multidisciplinary readings, which emphasize the cross-disciplinary nature of the various design languages, and the exploration of new spatial definitions, this conference thus seeks to put into a historical and contemporary perspective different case studies, in order to propose a critical re-reading of contemporary exhibition set-up modes. From design to implementation, passing through experience, it is then a matter of investigating and exploring the logic, the roles and the synergies that have allowed and still allow the exhibition design becoming a method of visual representation, the product of a gesture architectural, a creative process à part entière, and an elective tool for communication and spectator immersion.

This conference is an opportunity for a meeting between professionals, professors and researchers from different disciplines (architecture, museum studies, art history, design, cultural heritage, scenography, humanities and social sciences). It is interested in studies following these three lines of research:

I. Allestimento, Temporary Architectures, and Urban Spaces

“Les allestimenti s’offrent comme des moments d’expérimentation et de mise au point du langage architectural, des matériaux et des technologies. Ces sont des exercices de composition où s’accomplit la vocation de l’architecte au projet global.” (Falguières, 2014)

In this first session, the exhibition language is investigated concerning its architectural components and the dialectic between exhibition structures and the exhibition space. From the integration to the invention, passing through the overlap or the juxtaposition of permanent and temporary structures, this session questions the complexity of an exhibition design project (contemporary or historical). It seeks to explore “new spatial definitions that allow the exhibition architecture to become an elective tool for communication” (Migliore, Servetto, 2000). By studying internal, external, urban, alternative or temporary solutions, this session considers the exhibition set-up more like a “technical product” than a creative process, and thus insists on the architectural articulation of a design production (for example, experimentation of new structures, displays, or supports).

II. Experience, Aesthetics and Allestimento

“[…] An aesthetic experience of an artwork involves contemplation, valued for its own sake, of the artwork. That is, aesthetic experiences are self rewarding.” (Carroll, 2001)

The exhibition set-up born as a spatial organization practice and quickly became a discipline of the exhibiting, directly connected to the idea of the “interior” space, intended, as Argan pointed out, as “a dimension and an environment of the living and the human action” (Argan, 1956). At the same time, thanks to the idea of ​​”dramaturgy of space” (Vesco, 2010), which insists on the theatrical impulse to dramatize the space, the exhibition design turns out into the result of a creative process: an aesthetical environment to be experienced. Without a real statutory distinction between design, object, architecture and exhibit, the exhibition set-up thus becomes the place of a physical and intellectual immersion that calls into question the traditional debate between art and architecture. This session is interested​ in the relationship between organized space and spectator experience, and in particular in the cases of setting-up that, understood as potential places of action, widen the reflection to research on the aesthetic and phenomenological experience of the exhibition design.

III. Allestimento and Digital Technologies

“L’allestimento è qualcosa che non è più pensabile solo come architettura, ma piuttosto un’invenzione, un’enorme macchina giocattolo, un oggetto in mutazione […]. Una fenomenologia dello spettacolo, dall’antico imbonimento fieristico fino alle più moderne tecniche di persuasione.” (Eco, 1983)

This last session raises the question of the relationship between the exhibition design and digital technologies. In a moment in which electronic and connected devices mediate human interaction, digital solutions involving public attention are numerous, and rapidly growing globally (pose-matching games, interactive videos, conversions 3D, digital database, holograms, platforms of virtual and augmented reality). However, while technology offers infinite possibilities for interactivity, what is still lacking is the study of ways in which digital content is created and developed in relation to: the reception of viewers (their position and interaction), the quality of spaces (museums, galleries, urban spaces, fairs, salons), the time of use of the devices, and their integration. This session is therefore concerned with the digital forms of exhibition design, integrated within an exhibition path, as well as dynamics of contemporary interaction and new design challenges compared to the more “classic” forms of the allestimento.

Submitting Contributions:

Each intervention, about 20 minutes, will be accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation, followed by a final discussion. Conference languages: French and English. A selection of articles will be the subject of a publication.
The communication proposals, in French, English, or Italian, must be sent in PDF format and contain:

The chosen session
The name of the author/authors
A title
An abstract of about 300 words
A brief bio-bibliography (150 words)
5 keywords
5 bibliographic references

The abstracts must be sent by April 7, 2019, to the following address:
Notification of acceptance will be sent by May 7, 2019

Organizing committee
Pamela Bianchi (Lab. AI/AC, Paris 8 University)
Chiara Rubessi (Lab. Cinesthea, Grenoble Alpes University)

With the support of
University of Paris 8—AIAC (Laboratoires Arts des Images et Art Contemporain),
ENSA Paris-Malaquais, Dep. Théorie Histoire Projet, Lab. GERPHAU.

Scientific committee
Martine Bouchier (ENSA Paris-Val de Seine)
Marco Borsotti (Politecnico di Milano)
Alessandro Colombo (Architetto, IDEA Associazione Italiana Exhibition Designers)
Luciano Crespi (Politecnico di Milano)
Mariabruna Fabrizi (École d’architecture Marne-la-Vallée)
Adrien Gardère studio (Muséographe, Paris)
Pierre Hyppolite (Paris X Nanterre)
Anne Roqueplo (ESA Paris)
Raffaella Trocchianesi (Politecnico di Milano)
Jean-Pierre Vallier (ENSA Paris-Malaquais)