Gardens reflect identities, dreams, and visions. Deeply rooted in their culture, they can unfold immense symbolic potential. The recent revival of horticulture has focused less on the garden as a romantic refuge than as a place where concepts of social justice, biodiversity, and sustainability can be tried and tested. Gardens have become places of the avantgarde.
The exhibition “Garden Futures” at the Vitra Design Museum is the first to explore the history and future of modern gardens. Where do today’s garden ideals come from? Will gardens help us achieve a liveable future for everyone? The exhibition addresses these questions using a broad range of examples from design, everyday culture, and landscape architecture – from deckchairs to vertical urban farms, from contemporary community gardens to living buildings to gardens by designers and artists including Roberto Burle Marx, Mien Ruys, and Derek Jarman.
Gardens are full of hope and promise. Wherever people stake out a piece of nature to create a garden, its layout and design reveal much about how they relate to nature, be it as individuals or as a society. This is illustrated by the works of different artists and architects.
Even the most private garden is more than a personal retreat. Every garden bears the marks of social and historical developments, political and commercial interests, and cultural value systems . This is addressed in the second part of the exhibition, where we learn that many plants forming a basic component of Western gardens have deep roots in colonial history.
The nineteenth century also saw the emergence of numerous urban planning concepts that sought to reconcile city and garden. The questions raised by the group still remain the subject of much debate: who is entitled to a garden, what is a garden for, and how can gardens be integrated into an urban environment? There are many different ways of answering these questions. The third part of the exhibition introduces nine ground-breaking garden makers from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
The exhibition architecture was designed by the Italian design duo Formafantasma.