The International Friend of Habitare in 2021, Joseph Grima: We must rethink the way we are constructing the world around us


Joseph Grima is a British architect who has enjoyed a diverse career and has an extensive background in exhibition curation, research and writing. He has worked as the director and curator of many design and architecture events, and he has also been the editor-in-chief of the architecture and design magazine Domus. Grima is currently working as the creative director of the Design Academy Eindhoven and preparing for the Venice Biennale in May.

Photo: Victor Jeffries
Photo: Victor Jeffries

Grima, like everybody else recently, has been working remotely and spending more time in his studio, Space Caviar. The exceptional time has given him the opportunity to do more reading, as well as studying, without the hassle of travelling. The main ongoing project is called Non-Extractive Architecture.

“While the pandemic has been a very difficult time for many designers, it has, at the same time, also been an opportunity to pause and reflect on the way we were doing things. We try to look at what it would mean to rethink architecture; to look for an approach that is much more deeply connected to its local context and local environment. In general, we try to shorten the supply chain and connect the sourcing of materials and labour so that they are not too far away”, Grima says.

Change will accelerate and challenges will grow

Grima believes that there is going to be a very important change ahead of us. The acceleration in the change will be inevitable because of the magnitude of all the challenges we will meet in the future. How will the world look like after the pandemic? Do designers have a role in it?

“I think the responsibility of designers is to respond to the public´s demands for some form of leadership in terms of understanding how we are going to relate to cities, to our homes and to each other. I think designers have a very important role to play in this”, Grima states. He thinks that design will remain a deeply creative field and have the strongest expression of creativity in contemporary society. The connection to the social dimension will also be stronger.

“We must really not miss this opportunity to rethink the way that we are constructing the world around us. It´s remarkable what can be done when we all mobilise to confront current crises or threats. Of course, the biggest challenge we have on the horizon is the climate crisis, and we need stronger mobilisation for that”.

We need imagination and courage to address the world after the pandemic

The theme for Habitare 2021 is “Reimagine”, which is something Grima thinks is very relevant and very timely.

“We need to look again at the world around us. We need new imagination to be able to address this new world we will be stepping into after the pandemic period. We need to make sure that it is a better world, not a worse one. In order to do that, we need a lot of imagination, courage and energy, and I think this theme is an opportunity to spread that.”

More information:

Habitare: communications manager Taira Sjöblom-Tallus,, tel. +358 50 385 5482

Joseph Grima

Joseph Grima is an architect, curator, researcher and journalist who divides his time between Milan and Eindhoven. He is the creative director of the Design Academy Eindhoven and the curator for design, fashion and craft at the Milan Triennial. He is also the founder and partner of Space Caviar, an architecture and research practice operating at the intersection of design, technology, critical theory, and urban planning. The agency produces architecture, publications, exhibitions and films, which have been presented, for example, at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, the Vitra Design Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Barbican.

Grima previously worked as the editor-in-chief of the architecture and design magazine Domus, and the director of Storefront for Art and Architecture, an independent gallery in New York. In 2014, he was appointed the co-curator of the first Chicago Architecture Biennial, which is the largest exhibition of contemporary architecture in the history of North America. In 2012, he was the co-director of the first Istanbul Design Biennial. He was also the artistic director of Matera’s European Capital of Culture 2019 project.

Grima has taught and lectured widely at universities in Europe, Asia and America, including the Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow, under the tutelage of Rem Koolhaas. He has served on the juries of numerous international events, including the 2010 Venice Biennale of Architecture, which was directed by Kazuyo Sejima.

Joseph Grima, a multi-talented designer, architect, researcher, curator, and journalist, is the International Friend of Habitare in 2021. Grima will pick the most interesting content featured at Habitare and will give a keynote speech on Wednesday 15 September 2021. Habitare will be open at Messukeskus in Helsinki from 15 to 19 September 2021.


Photo: Victor Jeffries
Photo: Victor Jeffries

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