Philippe Rahm: The Anthropocene Style

Philippe Rahm: The Anthropocene Style

San Francisco Art Institute

View of Philippe Rahm: The Anthropocene Style, Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute, 2018. Photo: Marco David / SFAI.

April 19, 2018
Philippe Rahm
The Anthropocene Style
March 29–May 19, 2018
Symposium: The Anthropocene Style: Architecture, Urgency, and Climate Change: April 28, 12–4pm
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, California 94133
United States
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Philippe Rahm: The Anthropocene Style
March 29–May 19, 2018

Walter and McBean Galleries
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, California

T +1 415 749 4550
exhibitions [​at​]

Are architects responsible for climate change?
Is our comfort within buildings negating our future on earth?

Swiss architect Philippe Rahm is known internationally for groundbreaking work at the intersection of climate, architecture, and physiological space. In his first solo exhibition in the United States, Rahm embraces the urgency of climate change to propose a new decorative style.

Citing evidence that construction and maintenance of buildings account for nearly 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, Rahm offers a set of questions around aesthetic choice: By what process does an architect, designer, or even a painter or sculptor choose a material or a color for an artwork? In the context of accelerating climate change, Rahm argues that properties such as effusivity, emissivity, conductivity, and reflectivity should guide these decisions—a development that inspired the term Anthropocene Style, referring to a style specific to our aesthetic and environmental era.

This exhibition provides a testing ground for experimental ‘fabrics’: emissive tapestries, effusive carpeting, and spectral light, all of which are calibrated to interact with human body heat and external temperatures. Through these spatial and physiological experiences, Rahm’s architecture and design process takes climate, atmosphere, and physiology as its primary material.

About The Anthropocene Style, Rahm states, “Climate change is forcing us to rethink architecture radically, to shift our focus away from a purely visual and functional approach towards one that is more sensitive, more attentive to the invisible, climate-related aspects of space. Might not climate be a new architectural language, a language for architecture rethought with meteorology in mind? Between the infinitely small scale of the physiological and the infinitely vast scale of the meteorological, architecture must build sensual exchanges between body and space to invent new approaches capable of making long-term changes to the form and the way we will inhabit buildings tomorrow.”

Symposium: The Anthropocene Style: Architecture, Ugency, and Climate Change
April 28, 12–4pm

SFAI and swissnex San Francisco, together with Philippe Rahm, are co-hosting a festival of ideas to consider a design era specific to the Anthropocene. Beginning from the belief that architecture, and our comfort within buildings, has accelerated climate change, Rahm has proposed a new decorative style that embraces the urgency of climate change. Across disciplines and from multiple perspectives, this event convenes artists, critics, and theorists to propose alternate futures for materials, the built environment, and human longevity on this planet. Speakers: David Gissen, Maria Paz Gutierrez, Janette Kim, Hesse McGraw, Philippe Rahm, Philip Ross, Martino Stierli.

About the architect
Philippe Rahm is a Swiss architect and the founder and principal of Philippe Rahm architectes, based in Paris, France. His work, which extends the field of architecture from the physiological to the meteorological, has received an international audience in the context of sustainability. In Venice, Rahm represented Switzerland at the 8th Architecture Biennale (2002) and was included in Aaron Betsky’s exhibition Out There: Architecture Beyond Building (2008). He has participated in a number of exhibitions worldwide including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal; Manifesta 7; and more. His recent work includes the new 70-hectare Taichung Gateway Park in Taiwan, set to open in August 2018. Monographic books include Physiological Architecture published by Birkhaüser in 2002, Distortions published by HYX in 2005, Environ(ne)ment: Approaches for Tomorrow published by Skira in 2006, Architecture Météorologique published by Archibooks in 2009, and Constructed Atmospheres published by Postmedia in 2014.

Exhibition credit and partnership
Philippe Rahm: The Anthropocene Style is curated by Hesse McGraw, former Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs at SFAI, and current principal at el dorado inc, and organized with Philippe Rahm, Katie Hood Morgan, SFAI Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs, and Robin Beard, SFAI Chief Preparator.

The exhibition is co-presented with swissnex San Francisco and supported by Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council. Philippe Rahm: The Anthropocene Style is supported by Etant Donnés Contemporary Art, a program of FACE Foundation, developed in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, with lead funding from the Florence Gould Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, the French Ministry of Culture and Institut Français-Paris. The exhibition at SFAI coincides with a related version presented during del Salone del Mobile 2018 in Milan, Italy, organized by the Swiss Institute in Rome. In 2018, the publisher Lars Müller will publish a book surveying Rahm’s work over the past decade, including the exhibitions in San Francisco and Milan.

General Information
SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries are open to the public Tuesday, 11am–7pm, and Wednesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm.

For general information, please visit or call T 415.749.4563. SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries are located at 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, California.

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April 19, 2018

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