The modular did not have to be invented: it can be found everywhere. We divide surfaces into grids, spaces into parts, and time into rhythmic units. Modular structures are also increasingly being recognized as a way of communicating, where the aim is not to construct a universal principle but to facilitate interplay between different systems. Building on the visionary design system that architect Fritz Haller and engineer Paul Scharer developed in 1965 for Swiss furniture company USM, Rethinking the Modular brings together specially commissioned essays and interviews with leading designers, architects and thinkers to present the wide-ranging importance and influence of modular design over the past fifty years. In revealing the broad possibilities created by balancing structure with flexibility, the timely publication redefines the place of modularity in modern design history, and offers a rich resource for designers today.
Burkhard Meltzer is a freelance curator who writes about future art for magazines such as Kunstbulletin, frieze and Spike. He is the author of Ana and, with Tido von Oppeln, he was one of the editors of It's Not a Garden Table: Art and Design in the Expanded Field. A prolific writer for many design magazines, Tido von Oppeln also edited the book Totem and Taboo: Complexity and Relationships between Art and Design. He has been a lecturer in design theory and history in Lucerne and Zurich since 2009.
Preface/Introduction * I. The Systematic John Thackara: Back to the present; Rick Poynor: The Prospects and Limits of Connection; Georg Vrachliotis: Fritz Haller's city systems * Interviews with Thomas Lommee, Wolf Mangelsdorf and Lorenzo Bini II. The Modular Martino Stierli: The USM Haller from a modern/postmodern viewpoint Rem Koolhaas: extract from Rem Koolhaas & Hans-Ulrich Obrist: The Conversation Series; Alva Noe: extract from Out of our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness; Catharine Rossi: Squaring up to Superstudio: Grids, Modularity and Utopianism in Italian Radical Design; Interviews with Dimitri Bahler, Allan Wexler, Bless and Go Hasegawa