Referencing the legacy of Adolf Loos, Dutch designer Ineke Hans questions modern design practices in her new exhibition, opening tomorrow in Kunsthalle Wien as part of Vienna Design Week. Her work employs a variety of patterns and colours, eluding any characteristic style and instead addressing contemporary spatial needs and exploring the role of design in social, economic, and environmental issues.

The name of the exhibition alludes to Adolf Loos in combination with a play on the German expression ‘Was ist los’ meaning, ‘What’s happening?’ Loos inspired innovation in the field of architecture through his hyperbolic language, leading the industry towards modernism. Hans also seeks to inspire change with her work, which revolves around three contemporary topics of production techniques, digitalization, and scarcity of resources and housing. 


The area ‘Making and Making Sense’ is a study on reinventing the old. Beyond the considerations of function and aesthetics, Hans seeks to alter the relationship between traditional knowledge and modern technology. A chair made in collaboration with Gebrüder Thonet Vienna specifically for the exhibition utilizes a traditional bentwood technique to create a modern object. The chair can be easily stacked and stored, adapting to conferences and events. Her work presents old techniques in a relevant way, salvaging traditional wisdom without sacrificing utility.

‘Dealing with the Digital’ features the Instant Desk, a table design available through an online platform. It can be downloaded and produced anywhere in the world, forcing us to reconsider the conventional manufacturing process and how it can be made more efficient and accessible. This concept of distributing digital designs rather than physical furniture enables designers to export their products worldwide, allowing any willing producer to fabricate it.

Diminishing resources and the quest for sustainability is explored in the area ‘Less’. Hans looks for ways to provide for the needs of society in a rapidly urbanizing world, reminding us of the pressures of the natural world and the responsibility of designers and manufacturers to acknowledge and respond to this growing problem.

Hans’s ideology drives her designs, and she is constantly searching for ways to adapt objects to fit our ever-changing lifestyles. She cites multifunctionality and collaboration as central themes in design today, and this ideology is manifest in her work. ‘Was ist Loos’ engages viewers in a critical way that is as much intellectual as it is visual. Opening on 27 September, the exhibition can be found in Kunsthalle Wien as part of Vienna Design Week.