1st Edition

The New Curator: Exhibiting Architecture and Design

By Fleur Watson Copyright 2021
    302 Pages 114 Color & 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    302 Pages 114 Color & 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    302 Pages 114 Color & 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    The New Curator: Exhibiting Architecture and Design examines the challenges inherent in exhibiting design ideas. Traditionally, exhibitions of architecture and design have predominantly focused on displaying finished outcomes or communicating a work through representation.

    In this ground-breaking new book, Fleur Watson unveils the emergence of the ‘new curator’. Instead of exhibiting finished works or artefacts, the rise of ‘performative curation’ provides a space where experimental methods for encountering design ideas are being tested. Here, the role of the curator is not that of ‘custodian’ or ‘expert’ but with the intent to create a shared space of encounter with audiences.

    To illustrate this phenomenon, the book explores a diverse, international range of exhibitions. Divided into six themes, a series of project profiles are contextualized through conversations with influential curators and cultural producers such as Paola Antonelli, Kayoko Ota, Mimi Zeiger, Catherine Ince, Aric Chen, Zoë Ryan, Beatrice Leanza, Prem Krishnamurthy, Marina Otero Verzier, Brook Andrew, Carroll Go-Sam, Rory Hyde, Eva Franch i Gilabert, Patti Anahory and Paula Nascimento.

    Featuring over 100 color illustrations, this highly designed, beautiful book offers an innovative contribution to the field. An essential read for students and professionals in architecture, design, art, visual culture, museum studies, curatorial studies and cultural theory. The book also features a foreword by Deyan Sudjic and an afterword by Leon van Schaik AO.

    Foreword: Deyan Sudjic, Emeritus Director,

    Design Museum, London


    Introduction: Fleur Watson


    Curating and collecting contemporary design in the local/

    global context. Aric Chen (Hong Kong/Beijing, China) in

    conversation with Kayoko Ota (Tokyo, Japan)


    Chapter 1: Design as Exhibit

    (Curator as Space-maker)


    Meta-curation for inclusion and diversity. Catherine Ince

    (London, UK) in conversation with Prem Krishnamurthy

    (New York, US/Berlin, Germany)


    Chapter 2: The Prosthetic

    (Curator as Interloper)


    Fridge in a tree: On curating and memory, remembrance

    and representation. Brook Andrew (Melbourne, Australia) in

    conversation with Carroll Go-Sam (Brisbane, Australia)


    Chapter 3: The Mediator of Process / Research

    (Curator as Translator)


    Curating ‘potential’. Rory Hyde (London, UK) in conversation

    with Eva Franch i Gilabert (London, UK)


    Chapter 4: The Hybrid to the Digital

    (Curator as Speculator)


    Curatorial labour. Mimi Zeiger (Los Angeles, USA) in

    conversation with Marina Otero Verzier (Rotterdam,



    Chapter 5: The Advocate/Activist

    (Curator as Agent)


    The design of cultural agency. Zoë Ryan (Chicago, USA) in

    conversation with Beatrice Leanza (Lisbon, Portugal)


    Chapter 6: The Event as Performance

    (Curator as Dramaturge)


    Performing and exhibiting ‘design ideas’. Paola Antonelli

    (New York, USA) in conversation with Fleur Watson

    (Melbourne, Australia)


    Conclusion: The New Curator:

    Towards a Specialised Practice


    Independence as a disruptive curatorial practice in the

    global south. Patti Anahory (Praia, Cabo Verde Islands) in

    conversation with Paula Nascimento (Luanda, Angola)


    Afterword: Professor Leon van Schaik AO, Emeritus

    Professor, RMIT University


    Selected Bibliography

    Credits and Acknowledgements



    Fleur Watson is Executive Director and Chief Curator for the Centre for Architecture Victoria | Open House Melbourne. From 2012–20, Fleur was Curator at Design Hub Gallery, an exhibition space dedicated to cross-disciplinary design exchange and practice-led research at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. She has held senior curatorial positions in Australia and internationally including as the founding executive curator of the Lyon Housemuseum Galleries; architecture curator for the National Gallery of Victoria’s survey exhibition Melbourne Now (2013–14) and program curator (architecture) for the European Capital of Culture (Maribor, Slovenia, 2012). She was a co-founder of the independent gallery Pin-up Architecture & Design Project Space and former editor-in-chief of Monument magazine.

    “At a time of unprecedented interest in design and architecture, experimenting with new approaches to curation is more important than ever. In this timely and incisive book, Fleur Watson deftly maps the terrain while enabling design and architecture curators from all over the world to describe their practices in their own words.”

    Alice Rawsthorn, author of Design as an Attitude

    “If the traditional curator squirrels away and the acknowledged curator beavers away, well, Fleur Watson is a veritable sniffer dog who knows just when, where and how to pounce. The book is cosmopolitan and fearless in amassing both evidence and anecdote to suggest that curating is a creative as well as a coercive activity. In particular her sensitivity to place, context and appropriate action is fascinating.”

    Sir Peter Cook, Architect, CRAB Studio, co-founder of Archigram