The Madrid Design Festival came back in February 2020 to face its most challenging edition to date.

During this month, the third edition of this festival took place as a meeting point for designers to bring their ideas together, showcase their work and get to be known, while discovering the work of some arising artists in their field.

But how did it work in a time marked by social fear to a pandemic that was unstoppably on its way? Public events started to reflect this situation by the end of February, so both the festival’s organisation and the participants have worked together to find a way to turn this situation into a new concept of exhibiting. An on-line option that is actively generating content to be enjoyed from the safety of our homes.

Here, you will find a list of 7 innovative exhibitions at the Madrid Design Festival 2020.

1. Hope And Utopia – Mnad

In a context of global change, where the normality has been drastically taken away from us in barely a few weeks, the exhibition Hope and Utopia: design from 1900 to 1939 presents a compilation of pieces from this key time in the history of design as a message of hope.

The beginning of the 20th century was the time for designers to show their real power: from Bauhaus to social propaganda, design was an essential communication and entertainment tool to make living a bit easier for everyone. And same can happen today

Now that we again find ourselves in the need of entertainment and liable communication channels, the National Museum of Decorative Arts (MNAD) has opted to promote a virtual tour to visit the museum and enjoy their exhibitions:

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2. Now On: Graphic Artists 1900-1936 – Mnad

Again from the same displayers, with a similar yet a different topic. Yes, we have already understood the importance of graphic design to change the world throw a message, but now it’s time to see a collection of the posters that Spanish designers drew during the first third of the 20th century. As these are usually a part of the museum’s archive, the festival was a unique chance to see some historical content first-hand.

On #Day44 of quarantine, the museum celebrated World Day of Graphic Design posting 5 of these pieces on their Instagram account. Isn’t it wonderful how a challenging time has led to making all this content digitally available?

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3. Layers In Time – Emilio Gil

Cosentino, one of the main sponsors of the festival and venue provider for some of its exhibitions,  brought the exhibition Layers in time, by Emilio Gil,  as a reflection on his collage work.

The artist, who opened the festival with a conference, talked about using the collage as a tool to focus on the message, leaving any aesthetics condition behind:   “working with collage techniques means recovering the creative freedom of not having any kind of determinant” – he said.

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While the right order for  Vitruvius’s utilitas (utility) and venustas  (aesthetics) have been discussed by many architects throughout history, Emilio Gil firmly emphasised the importance of the process or utility above the final product, resulting in a collage of concepts full of geometry and composition.

4. Origen – Mateo Agulla

Cosentino city Madrid, the company’s venue in the city, has decided to take an active part in the festival’s initiative to enliven our time at home, offering a series of live interviews on their Instagram profile (@cosentinocitymadrid) that will be taking place until mid-May.

Last Thursday, Mateo Agulla, a shop window design student at Artediez, was invited to talk about his window design for the Cosentino City Madrid: Origen. Even though this eye-catching project was not formally listed as a festival exhibition, it could be seen by everyone coming to the venue and was an act of design as well. Mateo expressed in an honest and close way what a meaningful chance it was to be displayed at one of the main avenues in the city, as his first professional step.

Origen Works as a kaleidoscope, reflecting the colours and shapes of Cosentino’s materials to easily generate a bunch of different results: “with the same structure, you can change the piece you display and, with every change, a whole new picture is generated”  Mateo explained.

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5. Sculpted With Light And Sound – Alba G. Corral

Roca Galleries continue to encourage innovative artistic designs. If Chelsea shop is known for its Zaha Hadid design, Madrid one hosted, with the sponsorship of Mutek, an exhibition by technology artist Alba G. Corral for MDF 2020: Sculpted with light and sound.

With James Turrel’s pieces, we got to discover how light can sculpt a space. Now, Corral uses coding and digital language to take it to a technological level and creates organic video and sound pieces to be projected in the gallery.

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The iconic vertical garden at Herzog & de Meuron’s CaixaForum Madrid was turned last February into a dreamy oasis of nature in the middle of the city: in the middle of Paseo del Prado, the main axis connecting the north and south sides of the city, multinational MINI has used a model of their Electric brand to play nature sounds to accompany the magnificent garden during the day, and project a show of lights at night. A creative installation that states the need for a change in transport ways, through a design that inevitably gets the visitors’ attention.

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7. Tomorrow’s Homes – Ikea

The festival not only reflects on the transport needs for the future but also on how the cities will look like in a few years. As a result of an exhaustive research by IKEA that calculates the big figures of people living in cities by 2050, the Swedish company created an exhibition of living spaces at the Santa Barbara Palace venue. The company gave their day-to-day furniture a new purpose, using them to build a few proposals of safe and economically accessible co-living spaces for all the people who may end up needing them if society continues to develop at such a quick pace.

Supporting this kind of exhibitions, MDF 2020 shows a big interest in the problem-solving of current society’s issues, through the right use of design.

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