Our Top Event Picks for December
Christmas is a quiet time for architectural, art, design and interior shows, with only a handful of antiques fairs, furniture trade event Espirit Meuble in Paris and Lucerne’s design festival, Design Schenken to mention. So we can’t resist throwing in a guide to our favourite Christmas markets (in the arts section below). And do take in a few fabulous exhibitions in London and Paris.
It only remains for all the team at Arkitexture to wish you a very merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year – here’s to 2016!
Architecture and building
The good people of Dusseldorf get their turn at meeting up with a host of architects, engineers and other professionals at the Europe-wide travelling expo Architect@Work (2-3 December).
Art and antiques
There’s one lone art show in Europe this month: the travelling Art3f lands in Montpelier (4-6 December). Expect a good mix of contemporary art and sculpture with a range of price points and a focus on new talent.
Otherwise we move swiftly to antiquing. Newark International Antiques and Collector’s Fair, UK (3-4 December) is, quite simply, the largest antiques and collectibles fair in Europe and has to be seen to be believed, with some 2,500 stalls in an 85-acre site. Alexandra Palace International Antiques and Collector’s Fair, London (6 December) is a newcomer on the scene, also offering furniture, textiles, fashions, jewellery and more.
On the continent, Salon des Artisans D’Art et des Jeunes Createurs in Toulouse, France (5-13 December) focuses on developing and promoting young craftspeople in many disciplines, eg ceramics, sculpture, jewellery, woodwork, home-wares and furniture and more.
Almoneda Navidad (16 20 November) is, as its name suggests, the Christmas iteration of the large Madrid-based art and antiques fair. Find furniture from the 18th century to the 1970s, collectibles, archeology, jewelry, watches, crystal, clothes with some contemporary painting and sculpture thrown in for good measure.
Of course there is one craft tradition that only happens in December – Europe’s famous Christmas markets.Top of the list for any visitor is Prague. The whole city is a-twinkle with Christmas trees and little wooden huts selling decorations, traditional Czech cookies, wooden toys, crafts, traditional Czech foods and the warm honey liquor called medovina. The main Christmas markets are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square and are open to 6 January.
Berlin’s markets run a close second – there are 50 in the city alone. Check out Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, on until 1 January. Just about every city in Germany has a great Christmas market – you can’t go wrong. Vienna is the ultimate Christmas city: romantic, pretty and a little bit chocolate-box. Rathausplatz is the biggest but Altweiner, Schönbrunn Palace and Spittelberg are more upmarket and artsier. If you can brave the freezing temperatures in Copenhagen, the Tivoli is as Christmassy as it comes, complete with huge grotto, parades and an alpine village. In Barcelona the Fira de Santa Llúcia is one of the oldest in the world, dating from 1786. It comes with some spectacularly quirky traditions. Paris holds the atmospheric Le Village de Noël du Trocadéro in the shadow of the Tour Eiffel, with a skating rink, stalls and restaurants. Even good old London is getting good at the Christmas market thing – if you can’t face Hyde Park Winter Wonderland head to the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival for your fix of festive magic.
Interiors and design
Lucerne, Switzerland celebrates its design kudos this month at Design Schenken (4-6 December), a city-wide series of purchase-friendly ‘design taverns’, workshops, concerts and more.
Furniture makers and sellers can’t rest yet: trade show Espirit Meuble in Paris (5-8 December) is a large international event with talks, seminars and some 200 national and international exhibitors featuring textiles, designs, future trends and more.
The V&A continues its overhaul of its facilities this month with the opening of the gallery Europe 1600 – 1815 (from 8 December), following hard on the footsteps of the Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art which now includes contemporary consumer culture. The V&A has had an excellent year including a particularly good series of installations for the Design Festival and a revamp of its architecture and ‘rapid response’ collecting departments.
Kids (big and small) will love the Angel Trail around the National Gallery – a series of films highlight the meaning of, and stories about, angels. Head to the gallery and try and find as many as you can yourself. Don’t forget to take in Goya: The Portraits (to 10 January), an overview of the 18th century Spanish artist’s extraordinary take on the human face.
And don’t miss Ai Wei Wei’s thought-provoking, satirical and irreverent show at the The Royal Academy of Arts. This is the UK’s first major survey of his work and presents some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to present day.
In Paris people wanting to get away from Christmas should head to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs for Korea Now! Art et Design (to 3 January) which showcases the wealth and beauty of the dual nation’s art, fashion, graphic design and craft scene. The talent on offer is mesmerising (and no tinsel in sight). Even more avant garde is Hey! Modern Art and Pop Culture/Act III (to 16 March) displaying 62 cutting-edge artists at the Halle Saint-Pierre. It takes in street art, graffiti, cartoons and various bizarre objects all celebrating French counter culture.
Meanwhile the Vitra Design Museum in Germany is looking backwards to one of the most influential movements of all time: Bauhaus (to 28 February). #itsalldesign provides a comprehensive overview of the Bauhaus concept of design with a multiplicity of rare, in some cases never-before-seen exhibits from the fields of design, architecture, art, film and photography, but also documents the underlying developmental processes and societal models.
Last but by no means least, one of London’s newest commercial spaces, the Tyburn Gallery is showing the work of Moffat Takadiwa, who creates simple but intricate installations made from found materials, including spray-can debris, plastic bottle tops and discarded electrical goods. Unusually for a UK-based gallery, Tyburn focuses on African art, showing it alongside other international artists rather than ‘ghettoising’ it.