As thousands flock to the city for the London Design Festival, first port of call for many will be The V&A, the festival’s traditional headquarters. That brings visitors through the venerable museum’s doors, but it also brings pressure. Luckily The V&A has smacked it out the park with some tremendous installations and projects. Both Victoria AND Albert would be proud.
Vicky Broackes, of The V&A, told It’s Nice That it is crucial that whatever is commissioned for the festival works with and enhances the museum’s many treasures.
“It is not a case of saying, ‘Here, we have got a space,’ – we look for places we can make interventions, working together with the departments and the designers to make things in response to what we have here. I think that is so important. We could do it another way but it would not be nearly as fun or as interesting. That also means people look at things they have seen hundreds of times before with new eyes.”
That process starts before visitors even enter the grand old museum, with the majestic Timber Wave a three dimensional wooden spiral which encircles the Cromwell Road entrance. Created by AL_A architects and Arup, it is vast, delicate and beautiful, playing off the ornate curved entrance it sits in front of.
Toying with the familiar is a theme that extends into The Raphael Gallery, where the Bouroullec brothers have installed Textile Field a huge, sponge platform where you can sit, lounge or romp in front of the master’s huge works on the walls. It’s fun and contemplative and will bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded gallery visitor.
A real gem comes in the form of Industrial Revolution 2.0 an exploration of 3D printing curated by Murray Moss brought to life by Belgium company Materialise. The series of pieces range from a gorgeous (and apparently wearable dress) to 14 haunting pairs of shoes arranged around the famous Bed of Ware, ghostly evocations of the socio-sexual secrets the bed broods over.
British-ish presents some of the best work from recent graduates from the University of the Arts London, while Betatank’s Scaffolding Brut explores why scaffolding continues to be so style-less. A series of sculptures explore whether they could be created in more visually-arresting ways, or whether they could become useful extras to the homeowners trapped within – “an extra balcony” as the artist puts it. So we see flower pots and bird boxes made of porcelain attached to the metal poles, and even a date night configuration complete with a vase, a champagne holder and a radio (for romantic ditties, naturally).
M&C Saatchi have curated a show called Brutal Simplicity of Thought celebrating the straightforward yet ingenious solutions mankind has dreamt up to answer some of civilised society’s most fundamental needs – expect everything from toilet signs to daylight saving time.
There’s more too; The Power of Making and Postmodernism shows, designs for pylons of the future, talks, lectures… enough. Quite simply The V&A has cemented its place as an indispensable hub for all things LDF. Only one concern – how on earth do they top that next year?
- Punk, printing, photography and type - February's Nicer Tuesdays tickets are now on sale!
- Gender politics, feminism and Kanye West – the world according to Vanessa Beecroft
- First Dates for those who create: London agency Form on their working relationship
- Air-brushed psychedelia and neon lights abound in Robert Beatty’s new work
- Jack Davison shoots parrots with PTSD for The New York Times Magazine
- Graphic design work to challenge and empower the reader
- Racy photography from the new issue of Odiseo
- How to beat creative block: one designer offers his invaluable advice
- Bureau Mirko Borsche works with Nike Basketball on a new graphic language
- Meditation and creativity: should we believe the hype?
- VSCO develops new typeface and a symbol-based language as part of its rebrand
- More salaciously surreal illustrations from French duo Mrzyk & Moriceau