A basketball. A brightly painted wooden ship. A scattering of Lego bricks. A wooden dice game. A tower constructed from spaghetti and marshmallows. Straw throw dolls.
All create a large and vibrant mix of play materials spread out on a large white table and inviting visitors to SAP’s newest art exhibition to adopt the curious and probing mindset of a child in a playroom. Accepting the invitation might lead to the liberating, exhilarating sensation one feels when they know they have an idea.
The exhibition focuses on the process required to reach the point where creative thinking begins.
Video by Norbert Steinhauser
Creative Playrooms of the Past and Future
Speaking at the exhibition launch, Professor Thomas Hensel from Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences, Germany, explained that “society sees human creativity as the ultimate economic resource.” What enterprises aim to do is create an environment that encourages creativity and innovation.
SAP AppHaus is one example — people work in creative spaces and apply methods, such as design thinking, that have unmistakable parallels with the creative environment conceived by the Bauhaus movement a century ago.
“From Bauhaus to AppHaus” looks at the similarities between the playful creative culture of the Bauhaus and today’s design thinking methods, illustrating the ways in which today’s modern working world draws on the experimental techniques of the Bauhaus movement to gain new ideas. Curator Alexandra Cozgarea explains that the exhibition coincides with the “100th anniversary of [one of] the 20th century’s most influential school of art and design.”
Power of Play
Then, as now, play has the potential to spark creativity. The exhibition really does look like a place for artistic play: It starts with the model of the “Haus am Horn,” an experimental home that was built in Weimar by Bauhaus members and is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
For Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, who designed the children’s room in the “Haus am Horn,” openness and creativity were vitally important. Her son, actor Joost Siedhoff, attended the exhibition launch on October 24. His reading emphasized that the culture we see in SAP’s creative spaces today mirrors the one introduced by Bauhaus 100 years ago. In the same vein, Professor Hensel commented that “the choice of ‘AppHaus’ as a name is no coincidence.”
Creativity at SAP AppHaus
Exhibiting artist Carl Eller describes his works as an “archive of the objects left behind in the creativity process.” He and Hannah Roscher, both students at the Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences, skillfully explore prototyping materials taken from SAP’s creative spaces. Eller’s favorite image is of two polystyrene rings with colored pipe-cleaners protruding from them.
“I could look at that image for hours and ask myself, ‘What did the person who made this want to express? What problem did he or she want to solve? And how did this creation help in finding a solution?’” Eller said.
“Time woven into a spider’s web,” is how a visitor to the exhibition described one of Roscher’s photos. Her images are close-ups that
leave plenty up for interpretation. She mostly uses a Polaroid camera because it “brings in the experimental aspect.” Roscher also remarked, “You have an idea. You want to take a picture in a particular way, but the Polaroid does its own thing.”
Does the playful approach to materials practiced in design thinking spaces help unlock creative ideas? “I think it’s instinct – our sense of curiosity,” said Roscher. “If there’s something on the table in front of you, you want to touch it – whether it’s Lego or modeling clay. You then think, ‘What can I do with this?’ And that’s when your imagination kicks in.”
“From Bauhaus to AppHaus” runs Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. until February 28, 2020, at the International Training Center in Walldorf, Germany.