The Berlin World Improvement Machine

A project by Friedrich von Borries
Posted by Gestalten—08/2013

Working across mutiple disciplines, Friedrich von Borries is an architect, an author, and a curator. Recently, he declared to revive a historical project that aims at fostering the belief in art and science as world-improving forces.

As the story is explained by him: "The Berlin World Improvement Machine is a secret research project whose origin dates back to the seventeenth century. It consists of a particular arrangement of artworks and artefacts, which together unfold effects to improve the world. Here the founding of the Academy of Arts (1696), the Academy of Sciences (1700) and later on the Royal Museums of Berlin (from 1830) all play an essential role. The academies were dedicated to the scientific and artistic research (...) while the museums collected potential parts for its construction."

Around 70 objects from the permanent collections of 16 Berlin museums have been marked as components to the contemporary Berlin version of the mystical World Improvement Machine. A detailed treasure map leads visitors to the Old National Gallery or the Museum für Naturkunde. A ten-meter model of the World Improvement Machine at the courtyard of Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart serves as central point and thought model for the undertaking. Visitors are also invited to look for the machine's missing parts or make other forms of suggestions on how to really build a world-improving machine one day.

Friedrich von Borries' involvement with investigations about the essential roles of art and design has further led to a recent cooperation with Gestalten. The release Weil Design die Welt verändert..., edited by him and Jesko Fezer, reflects the present debate on design's influences, challenges, and duties.

Image Weltverbesserungsmaschine:
© Moritz Ahlert / Projektbüro Friedrich von Borries

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Recent Book Releases

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The Great Wide Open featured in The Independent on Sunday's February 8 issue.

Barley & Hops recommended in the January 2 issue of Il venerdì di Repubblica.

Does This Happen to Everyone? reviewed in the Winter 2014 issue of The School Librarian journal.

3-page interview with Monocle editor Tyler Brûlé published in the magazine supplement to Belgian daily De Morgen.

The Monocle Guide to Good Business featured in the New York Post's October 2 issue. "Filled with detail-rich reporting, the hardcover features entrepreneurial ideas, case studies of successful businesses and Monocle's great design."

Out of the Blue featured in Deutsche Welle Euromaxx's interview with Ville Kokkonen, Design Director of Artek.

Das Craft-Bier Buch in the December 14 issue of Welt am Sonntag.

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