"U-Joints" exhibition, 01–29.05.2019, Gallery l'elac

"U-Joints" exhibition
Gallery l'elac

Curated by Andrea Caputo and Anniina Koivu, the "U-Joints" exhibition features the first chapter of an ongoing research initiated on the occasion of the Milan Design Week 2018. A large selection of nails, screws, rivets, bolts and nuts is shown alongside products created by international designers and a new taxonomy of basic fasteners, graphically developed by Graphic Thought Facility.

Opening reception
1.05.2019, 18 h – 20 h

2.05.2019 – 29.05.2019
Wednesday – Friday
13 h – 17 h

Galerie l’elac
5, avenue du Temple
CH-1020 Renens


U-Joints is a research project led by Andrea Caputo and Anniina Koivu, as well as a group exhibition that explores the idea of connections in design.Initiated on the occasion of the Milan Design Week 2018, the first U-Joints exhibition was an eclectic introduction to the topic of connections. Taking a look at the multifaceted world of joints, curators Andrea Caputo and Anniina Koivu broke joints open, organised them by material and production processes, reassembled them into prototypes, and used them in real-world applications. For eight days, U-Joints brought together 919 pieces – from the most common joints to design’s most innovative ones, as well as those that have had the greatest influence on contemporary design.

This captivating introduction launched the U-Joints research project, which is now in the process of investigating different kinds of connections even more deeply. Ultimately, the research project’s findings will be published in a large volume that examines joinery in furniture and product design.

U-Joints takes a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach. Featuring technical information about joinery as well as stories and commentaries, U-Joints looks at human history through its details, and invites us to see our built environment in whole new ways.

The ongoing U-Joints research is accompanied by a series of exhibitions. Each show reads like a chapter of the future book. The first chapter in this series is the current U-Joints exhibition at Galerie l'elac at ECAL/University of Art & Design Lausanne. Dedicated to very basic fasteners, the exhibition features a large selection of nails, screws, rivets, bolts and nuts, alongside products created by 20 international designers and a new taxonomy diagram created just for U-Joints.

Andrea Caputo says: “Within the world of ‘connections’ we imagine including any field of investigation, from architecture to product design to fashion. It is an extremely scalable concept, and we aim to investigate not only the fundamental constructive principles but also to conduct methodological analysis. The manufacture of the joint can coincide with an industrial, artisanal or extremely extemporaneous and experimental process.”

Anniina Koivu says: “Designers appropriate standard connectors; they assemble and personalise them. Sometimes, they invent new joinery from scratch. Always, they use joints to create unique objects. But because a joint is often invisible, hidden elegantly inside an object, it can pass by unnoticed. U-Joints seeks to change this.”

The Taxonomy of Joints
Taxonomy is the science of describing, identifying, naming and classifying organisms. The Taxonomy of Joints traces the macrocosm of joinery in furniture and product design today. Starting from the most common production techniques, the structure creates a genealogical tree that is divided into four families, twenty subfamilies and a still-to-be-defined number of individual joints. The taxonomy exhibited here looks at basic fasteners: nails, screws, rivets, bolts and nuts, in 192 of their most common examples. Much like that of an organism, The Taxonomy of Joints can grow or change its form: it is a work in progress. The taxonomy on display was graphically developed by British studio Graphic Thought Facility.

U-Joints – A Taxonomy of Nails, Screws, Rivets, Bolts and Nuts
A project by Andrea Caputo and Anniina Koivu
Exhibition design: Camille Blin
Graphic design: Graphic Thought Facility
Senior researcher: Eleonora Castellarin
Project managers: James Anicich, Margherita Banchi, Marta Redigolo

ECAL: Director Alexis Georgacopoulos
Exhibition: Antoine Vauthey
Communication: Selim Atakurt

Printing: PCL Presses Centrales SA, Renens

Featured joint projects
Massimiliano Adami, Ron Arad/Vitra, Camille Blin, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec/Magis, Joschua Brunn/UTIL, Thilo Brunner & Jörg Mettler, Achille & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni/Zanotta, Janez Cestnik/Aereform, Thomas Edison, Konstantin Grcic/Magis, Levi Strauss, Vico Magistretti/ DePadova, Enzo Mari, Ingo Maurer, Noah Guitars, Jasper Morrison/Alessi, Marc Newson, Gio Ponti/Olivari, Saara Renvall, Paul Schärer & Fritz Haller/USM, Swatch

Industrial joints
Berardi Bulloneria, Biopsybell, Climbing Technology, Colombo, Dialmedicali, Immediate Load, Mero Italiana, Mondial Horse Nails, North-Lock, Officina Bonacina, Parravicini, Poggipollini, Pro-Bolt, Rivit, Sariv, Stil Group, Tecom Implantology, Titanmed, Univiti, Viteria Fusani

Special thanks
Janez Cestnik/Aereform, Alessi, Sandro Bolzoni, DePadova, Fondazione Vico Magistretti, Sam Hecht, Magis, Sally McGrane, Noah Guitars, Swatch, USM, UTIL, Vitra Design Museum, Zanotta


Andrea Caputo

Studio Anniina Koivu


Dates and schedules


Gallery l'elac
Visual: Graphic Thought Facility
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu
Image ECAL/Calypso Mahieu