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IT and I visited the Vitra Design Museum at Weil am Rhein in April 2016. It is a beautiful, well-designed (duh), starchitect-built campus – more about this place in future posts. From 26.02 – 29.05.2016, in a free-standing gallery next to the museum,  the exhibition titled “Objection! Protest by Design” was held.

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The exhibition presented a number of objects that was spawned by the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement 雨傘運動 in Hong Kong that took place between 26 September 2014 and 15 December 2014. Much of what I wrote below came from the Vitra-distributed exhibition guide.

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In a reaction to proposed changes in the electoral process in Hong Kong, spontaneous student protests erupted in Hong Kong. The protesters created numerous informal and improvised physical structures, graphic images, digital art, and online networks; protesters used the umbrella that gave the movement its name to protect themselves from the police.

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“Broken” by Jonathan Mak. Notice the fractured leg and an off-balance star and the tiny umbrella beneath it.

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There were two large “tables” which were overlaid with a large scale birds-eye view of the streets in Hong Kong.

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Protesters were highly organized in their occupation of three main heavily trafficked protest sites: Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay.

Do click on the map below here to see in details the Admiralty site.

vitra hk admiratly-1
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A large number of installations (barricades, means to cross the expressway median), first aid stations, study areas, press stands and camp sites appeared in the 8-lane expressway and two shopping districts to become voices and means of protests.

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The appearance of these installations were recorded and mapped, and shown on these two tables.

vitra HK-5Mong Kok

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A number of barricades were set up to create a safety zone in order to make a defined space for resting. They were recreated here by 3D printing.

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The Lennon Wall was created by students and social workers with Post-Its on a wall of a stair leading from a street up to a pedestrian footbridge in Admiralty.

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They invited people to write down their hopes and reasons for staying in Admiralty after the police tried to disperse the protestors with tear gas.

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At the end of the occupation, the Wall was taken down and parts of it were preserved.

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The exhibition wanted to show how design not only shapes and define products, but can also function as an agent of change in politics, communications and social innovations.

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I hope the people of Hong Kong all voted and voted wisely today.

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