Knock on wood! Design, Wood & Sustainability. 2022 — Museography

When the trees made it possible to see the forest

Wood – a raw material that has always been used by mankind as a whole – was the "conceptual object" of this exhibition.

The challenge was to create a space that would showcase objects as disparate as two giant sequoia discs, simple brooms, pitchforks – some with seven or eight tines – a collection of more than 80 wooden ladles from all the cultures of the world... objects that, due to their simplicity, contrasted with a refined harpsichord from 1737 or with a complex house designed and assembled in wood within the exhibition using the latest construction technologies.

I thought that the best way to conceive the exhibition space, which was to house the entire collection, would be a place that sheltered and brought together all the objects, balancing the intrinsic value and the soul of each one of them, in other words, putting the functionality of the most humble and the beauty of the most sophisticated at the same level of importance.

The result, after understanding the script, was to design the museography as if it were a forest. A permeable, connected woodland that would allow the public to enjoy the different areas from anywhere, those already visited and those we would encounter later on. An exhibition route that would hint at what we would discover and remind us of what we had already seen. 

This great forest, built in natural wood, enveloped all the objects, turning the visit into an indivisible experience with a single spirit, in the same way that a forest can become the experience of visiting a great interconnected cosmos.

The exhibition, installed at 45 degrees to the museum building, meant that the wooden house, located towards the end of the tour, had to be oriented towards the south.

The economic crisis due to the war in Ukraine forced the my team and to the museum's team to redefine the exhibition. The displays that were designed were replaced by existing showcases from other exhibitions, the height of the entire forest had to be lowered. Despite this, recycling the furniture and epics gave us a lesson in sustainability. 

The original concept was preserved and, far from veiling, the trees and the exhibition allowed us to see the forest and discern the message.

Ignasi Cristià


Promoter institution: Museu del Disseny de Barcelona

Location: Barcelona (Spain)

Photography: Pepo Segura