Design by Choice - The origins of Mass-Customisation in Europe







Exhibition from October 10, 2015 - January 17, 2016
Vernissage: Saturday, October 10, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Address: Bureau Europa, Timmerfabriek, Boschstraat 9, 6211 AS Maastricht, the Netherlands

Over the last decades custom manufacturing, rapid prototyping as well as new communication mediums have permanently changed the relationship between manufacturers and consumers. Based on Reyner Banham?s groundbreaking publication Design by Choice, which was dedicated to the contemporary consumer society, the exhibition of the same name offers insights in the world of industrial production and consumption prior to the emergence of standardized mass production.

A representative sample of cast iron trade catalogues of European iron foundries is at the center of the exhibition. Foundries in Scotland, France and Prussia determined the pace of product innovation since the mid-nineteenth century. Jewelry, chandeliers, chairs, canons, fountains and building components were mass-produced. Alongside their products, the foundries invented a new sales medium: the trade catalogue. In the whole of Europe trade catalogues served as efficient communication tools that mediated between manufacturers and their continuously expanding customer-base.

The presentation of the historical context invites visitors of the exhibition Design by Choice to rediscover the former objects of desire. The focus on the European dimension of the Industrial Revolution allows them to understand the international exchanges and the cross-national commonalities.

Detailed studies of the Sayner Hütte in Bendorf near Koblenz, the Parisian Sainte-Geneviève Library by Henri Labrouste and Paddington Station in London by Isambard Kingdom Brunel illustrate the attitude of architects and engineers towards the then-new building material cast iron.

Curators: Prof. Axel Sowa (Department of Theory of Architecture, RWTH Aachen University)

and Jules Schoonman
Graphic design: Adriaan Mellegers
Research and design assistants:
Ayça Sancar, Juliane Seehawer and Magdalena Derdzikowska (Department of Theory of Architecture)

Website bureau-europa