Global Grad Show is an annual event, held each year as part of Dubai Design Week. The 2019 edition held an exhibition of 150 projects from 100+ universities and 45 countries that addressed topics such as health, social care, disabilities, biodiversity, water pollution, farming, and sustainable cities amongst others. Representing the work of space&designSTRATEGIES’ graduate Lukas Kopf, a plan to cook, serve and eat Knödel (dumplings) on tables was submitted and accepted to the show. Being unable to attend the Global Grad show in person, Larissa Meyer and Seth Weiner—both teaching at space&designSTRATEGIES—went to represent the work as well as the Kunstuniversität Linz.Kopf’s project “Apparatus for Social Density“, is a collaborative design project that invites strangers to come together and share in the production and consumption of food in an improvised setting. The work doesn’t have specific objects or recipes attached to it, so a toolbox was designed for air travel, and packed with a set of cooking devices that had been made and acquired by the department over the years. While the box held the sculptural ingredients of the work, the cooking ingredients were purchased in Dubai at various markets.
Upon arriving at the exhibition hall, it was revealed that due to legal issues with the building code, it wasn’t possible to either cook or serve food within the context of the exhibition. However, an open display structure made from aluminum studs had been provided by the organizers; a vertical sculpture that was more tower than table. Having to re-navigate the initial proposal, both Meyer and Weiner fell hopelessly in love with the provided structure, then treating it as a base, went about trying to build the world’s tallest Knödel tower. Small, lonesome, yet proud, this display structure became both the department’s designated space for the week as well as its conceptual framework for participation.
Working throughout the course of the exhibition on the tower, visitors would hesitate in front of the messy construction-site, asking, “what does it do?“, often joining in the process through their questions. Participants used this process as a break from the context, discussing topics around design-practices, strategies for producing the perfect construction-grade dough, as well as introducing their own practices; the act of rolling, mixing, and placing dough becoming an instrument for social exchange. While most presentations at the exhibition were discrete arrangements of objects, gadgets, models and explanatory posters, “Apparatus for Social Density,“ asked visitors to become an active part of the display process, their involvement rearranging and ultimately constructing a series of temporary Knödeler communities.