“Powerbanks” – Our furniture becomes best piece in Britta Thie’s artwork

Being in the mall means being in the world. The internationally renowned artist Britta Thie, a professor, actress and model, was inspired for her latest work by young people in the Minto Shopping Mall who spend their free time producing selfies on mall seatings, charging their cell phones and power banks – “and somehow themselves, too”. It is now presented in an exhibition at the Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach,

The lounge furniture designed by kplus konzept is the protagonist in the setting of Britta Thie’s shopping mall soap opera “Powerbanks” as well as in the museum’s exhibition space, where the original sample of the furniture stands. The Soap is streamed here on elegant screens and brought back to the mall at certain times on the devices of the electronic retailer “Saturn”. The audience in the Museum is seated on mall furniture pattern , which kplus konzept has designed as part of the overall interior design of the groundbreaking – and meanwhile multiple award-winning – shopping mall Minto. The mall designed as a “third place”, the leitmotif for our design, is perfectly reflected in Britta Thie’s artwork where the Minto – colloquially for “mine” -, the living room of the inhabitants of Mönchengladbach, became also the extended living room of its protagonists.

To resume: Our “Powerbank” has found its way into a Museum and into a Soap Opera – is there a better proof for the sustainability of a design?

What is at issue?
Powerbanks is a body of work presented across various platforms: as a film, an exhibition at the Museum Abteiberg, and an ongoing screening at a consumer electronics retailer. Questions concerning self-staging, self-mediatization, and self-fictionilization are posed in the latest film by Britta Thie. The plot deals with teenagers in Mönchengladbach, who spend their free time in a newly constructed shopping mall near the Museum Abteiberg, the Minto. The museum and the mall become the stage for both the film’s production as a set and as the site of the broadcast. Thie’s new film will simultaneously be shown in the exhibition space, as well as on the screens on the sales floor of the electronics retailer. The exhibition spaces themselves are the production set; Powerbanks is a pilot, the beginning for further episodes of a possible series.

For the duration of Powerbanks, the setting of the mall as the epicentre of adolescents’s social lives will be transplanted into the foyer and the temporary exhibition rooms of Museum Abteilberg. The title Powerbanks is a reference to the benches that populate the mall, which act as both seating islands and power charging stations. The exhibition itself will include a sculptural re-imagination of the benches, complete with free WiFi and electrical outlets.

Re-installing the architectural structure of the film’s set as the exhibition space creates an environment at the museum where the content and the atmosphere of the work echoes materially and digitally. To Thie the mall is a multi-layered in its double function as the production site as well as the exhibition site. The mall is a complex social framework within the city’s community, to adolescents in particular. While the social sphere and public spaces are openly contested today, the mall has become semi-public – corporately run and commercially defined, a destination and a safe haven with fictional potential. The location of the mall – as a space and as an image – is shaped by repurpose, appropriation and change through the youth, who, spending large amounts of their time there become the protagonists of their own stories between frozen yogurt stand, Forever 21 and largescale, high-resolution screens.

Learn more about the design concept of the Minto Mall, which was realized in close cooperation with the Interior Design Department of Unibail Rodamco Germany,  here.