Science Fiction Design — From Space Age to Metaverse

Vitra Design Museum
Ongoing Event
© vitra design museum, photo: mark niedermann
Sat., 18 until Sun., 11 May

Numerous science fiction films—from "Star Trek" to "2001: A Space Odyssey" to "Blade Runner"—are populated by classic designs that have shaped our image of the future. In reverse, many designers of objects destined for some type of imagined future seek inspiration in the genre of science fiction. The fascinating dialogue between science fiction and design is the subject of a new exhibition in the Vitra Schaudepot. Under the title "Science Fiction Design: From Space Age to Metaverse," over 100 objects from the museum’s collection will be staged in a futuristic display by the Argentine visual artist and designer Andrés Reisinger. Supplemented by selected works from the realms of film and literature, the show presents a range of examples from the early 20th century to the so-called "Space Age" of the 1960s and ’70s, and even further to recent design objects that have been conceived exclusively for the virtual worlds of the metaverse.
Designers such as Gae Aulenti, Eero Aarnio, Luigi Colani, Joe Colombo, and Verner Panton created furnishings and living environments whose organic shapes and shiny plastic surfaces not only looked futuristic, but also reflected a fundamental rethinking of modern lifestyles. Finding inspiration in the technology of space travel, the designers of the Space Age supplied film directors with the ideal furnishings for their science fiction movies. Designer furniture surged onto the silver screen. Science fiction has proven to be a multifaceted genre that also addresses controversial topics such as climate change and artificial intelligence. The new possibilities enabled by computer-aided design and 3D printing have contributed to the revival of a futuristic aesthetic, from which new classics have emerged, such as Joris Laarman’s Aluminum Gradient Chair (2013), the first 3D-printed metal chair.
In light of the current space exploration efforts, there is talk of a "Second Space Age." This raises questions about how the dialog between science fiction and design is progressing today, and what it might look like in the future. Applying innovative technologies to pressing social problems and challenges is just one conceivable scenario. The other is the metaverse, which, for a new generation of young designers, appears to be evolving into what the cosmos represented in the 1960s—a new space for projections and experiments, a place for free thinking that can be filled with novel ideas and concepts.


Vitra Design Museum
Charles-Eames-Strasse 2
79576 Weil am Rhein

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