On a warm sunny midweek morning, I decided to take a well-deserved study break to see what local and international artists have in store for the Maltese public during this year’s Design Week. Emphasizing on the theme of a micronation, St. Elmo has been turned into an overwhelming hub of creativity with roomfuls of projects, demonstrations, and finished works. Ranging from fashion, interior design and technology-driven exhibitions, to photography, traditional art, and visual installations, this year’s event is definitely a spectacle to be reckoned with.
It was especially exciting to see so many Maltese artists and creators show what they have come up with, many of them after having spent years of studying and gaining experience abroad. My expectations were also conquered by the works of supposed newcomers from MCAST and UoM, whose exhibitions were probably some of my favourites from the whole event.
Since it is difficult to talk about every single thing at Design Week, and also so as not to spoil your experience if you’re still planning on visiting this weekend, here are the 5 exhibits which interested me the most, and why I think that everyone should give them a peek:
‘Selekted Malta’ by Duška Malešević
An international photographer’s view of the hustle and bustle of the Maltese Islands provided for my overall favourite exhibit at St. Elmo. For the past 10 years, Malešević has been capturing postcard style snapshots of anything that has caught her eye in our streets, alleyways and squares, and which any avid Instagram user would melt over. Finding them both humorous and insightful, I am not ashamed to say that I couldn’t resist examining every single photo on show.
‘Art and Design’ by MCAST students
Competing with Design Week’s professionals are the stunningly unique works of Maltese students undergoing the range of courses offered by MCAST, particularly those in architecture, interior design, and computer animation. From practical modern furniture designs to abstract metalworks that leave viewers guessing, it is truly positive to see our younger generation engaging itself into putting Malta on the global map of design.
‘Almost Transparent Blue’ by students from University of Belgrade
One of the simplest and yet most awe-inducing exhibits this year comes from a talented group of Serbian architecture students, who are clearly inspired by nature and who give great attention to detail. Most likely unlike anything you’ve seen before, the research and hard work that these students have put into their illustrated works is a breath of fresh air.
‘Miniatures’ by Vitra
This Swiss company brought over to Design Week an exhibition about the history and development of the most underrated yet indispensable piece of furniture; the chair. You might be extremely wrong if you think this would be something boring, because I was never so fascinated by how much has changed in seating design over the centuries. Everything is in cute miniature form too. Need I say more?
‘Defying Complacency’ by UoM students
If photography is one of your passions, then you will undoubtedly enjoy what these soon-to-be graduates in design studies have to offer. They manage to bring to life Maltese and Gozitan landscapes in a hugely refreshing way, including abandoned and ruined sites which you would never expect to translate into beautiful photographs.
Spending a couple of hours immersed into, quite literally as the theme promotes, a ‘micronation’ of countless elements of Maltese culture turned contemporary I was, being an artist myself, definitely inspired by some of the participating geniuses. What I would strongly suggest is to visit during the evening or nighttime, in order to appreciate the whole atmosphere of Design Week, especially since some of the exhibits depend on light and illumination to be fully appreciated.
Furthermore, very interesting panels are being held from 8pm onwards, including upcoming talks by furniture designer Gordon Guillaumier on Friday, and London-based fashion photographer Matthew Attard Navarro on Saturday.
Be sure to visit the Maltese Design Week at Fort St. Elmo, Valletta until the 24th May between 10am and 10pm. You can visit their official website at maltadesignweek.com for more information.