• Dir6

    Hye-Yeon Park with her Autonomous Clock (Pic by Luke Hayes)

  • Dir

    Simon Hasan with his leather stools (Pic by Luke Hayes)

  • Jade

    Jade Folawiyo and her work (Pic by Luke Hayes)

  • Dir3

    Will Shannon with his amazing Mobile Particleboard Factory (Pic by Luke Hayes)

  • Dir2

    Will Shannon and his chipboard pieces (Pic by Luke Hayes)

  • Candlestick_telephonee

    The four Designers in Residence (Pic by Luke Hayes)

  • Vespa1

    Candlestick telephone, circa 1920 from This is Design

  • Airchair

    Vespa Clubman, Corradino d’Ascanio, 1946 from This is Design

Product Design

What's On: This is Design/In Pursuit of Imperfection

Posted by Rob Alderson,

Interrogating the past to understand the present (and hopefully predict the future) is an admirable aim at many museums and galleries, but few manage to carry it off. But London’s Design Museum has bucked the trend with a pair of new shows which complement each other perfectly.

This is Design is a fascinating romp through the museum’s collection spanning over a century of design classics, while In Pursuit of Imperfection showcases the museum’s four designers in residence – Simon Hasan, Hye-Yeon Park, Will Shannon and Jade Folawiyo.

“There is something really powerful about celebrating classic design of the past and showing that design is very much alive and well in London,” said Deyan Sudjic, Design Museum director. “The residency programme shows our commitment to nurturing the next generation of designers.”

And the talented quartet have paid back the museum’s faith in spades with four very different takes on the brief. Will Shannon’s work challenges us to reassess chipboard, that highly-engineered but not highly-prized material which he creates using a wonderful contraption straight out of a cartoon.

Jade Folawiyo scars metal with everyday products like lemon and salt and creates gorgeous lines of lamps which are all uniquely patterned, and Simon Hasan updates the boiled leather process to question how this luxury item can be transformed into something very different.

But the standout piece is Hye-Yeon Park’s Autonomous Clock, a cheeky, playful digital clock apparently with a mind of its own which creates mesmerising random patterns and words on its display, snapping back to the correct time when it senses someone is near.

Just a few paces away, This is Design is broken down into several broad themes such as manufacturing, identity and digitilastion and illustrates the part a dizzyingly diverse array of objects played in these stories, and the overall design narrative. It’s not often you are able to see an AK-47 in the same show as the Donna Up5 chair and several takes on the iconic anglepoise lamp.

The curation is excellent – informative but not overwhelming – and the two shows work in tandem, so much so that you could spend hours bouncing between them.

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Product Design View Archive

  1. Hellotalja_kit-list-image

    Many a blue-sky-thinker and envelope-pusher has been extolling the virtues of meditation and mindfulness to pseudo-spiritually swell their business jargon lately. So it’s refreshing when a beautifully branded, creatively-minded product emerges that promises to offer that lucrative “pause from modern life.”

  2. List

    We often take colour for granted in this digital age where our rich tapestry of tones and hues comes as standard on a computer tool bar and getting the right shade is just a few clicks away. Columbian designer Laura Daza wants to shake us out of this complacency, and her project Colour Provenance is an investigation into the ancient origins of colour pigment.

  3. List

    Everyday 24 million journeys are made across the London Transport Network, which is why the unveiling of the latest fleet of London tube trains is a pretty big deal. Of all the design we come across, not much of it affects as many people as trains that millions of Londoners will use day in, day out.

  4. Fllistbompas___parr_organ_front

    It wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a Wes Anderson film or in a Roald Dahl story but believe it or not, the Flavour Conductor exists in our very own world. Magicked into being by the Willy Wonkas’ of the design world, Bompas and Parr, in collaboration with Johnnie Walker Blue Label, it is a musical instrument like no other. This is no ordinary church organ; it’s part of a multi-sensory theatrical experience combining music and imagery to transform the audience’s appreciation of whisky and even make its taste change in their mouth.

  5. List

    Innovative eyewear brand Etnia Barcelona has carved out a niche for itself through collaborations with artists like Araki, Yves Klein and McCurry, and its new collection riffs off the mainstream fashion trend for floral prints. Art Flowers takes inspiration from various flora and abstracts colours, shapes and patterns to create a striking new range with an expressionist aesthetic well in line with Etnia’s cultural cache.

  6. List

    These have been doing the rounds a bit this week but it’s not hard to see why – Israeli designer Lee Ben David’s Very Specific Cutlery range is a middle-class gourmand’s perfectionist dream. A graduate of the BEZALEL Academy of Art And Design, Lee believes “that the products that surround us should make us smile, laugh and think beyond,” and this project does just that.

  7. List

    It’s the little things that make a difference, as the expression goes, and the creative brains behind memobottle have taken this sentiment very much to heart. In a pledge to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic water bottles and to get rid of annoying clutter in your bag,they’ve invented memobottle, a drinks container the same size and shape as a notebook, or laptop.

  8. Ceramics_list_

    If we’re honest we lost interest in 3D printing for a bit there. After all the home-made gun controversy and the constant assurances it would democratise production processes forever more we had to deal very quickly with the reality that most desktop 3D printers were only capable of producing very small objects, and the materials they made them from were structurally unsound. We’re still holding out hope though.

  9. List

    Former Fabrica designer and art director Dean Brown has just upped sticks and left the confines of Treviso in Italy to set up shop in London. He’s spent the last four years honing his skills designing conceptual products, installations, interiors and exhibitions with collaborators at both Fabrica and COLORS as well as further afield. Last year we fell in love with his witty take on rug design, and now he’s impressed us again with his ability to turn knitwear into an engaging, immersive environment through texture and colour.

  10. List

    It’s no secret that Studio Swine are forever pushing boundaries in the world of product design, taking uncommon materials and putting them to universal use. But their latest project is extremely unusual, even by their own standards. For Hair Highway the pair ventured into the heart of mainland China to the epicentre of the global human hair trade. There they acquired enough human hair to use it as the basis for a number of luxury bespoke objects – the carefully-maintained strands preserved in deep amber resin, creating stunning patterns and textures. To top it all off they’ve made this lovely film to document their journey, the people behind this strange trade and the finished products themselves.

  11. List

    The interplay between design and the cultures they both respond to and help shape is not always easy to decipher. An interesting exhibition currently on show in London examines 20th Century Soviet Russia through the objects which defined it on a very human level – the toys and appliances, vehicles and sports equipment. There are products that became iconic such as the Chaika vacuum cleaner and others that may never have been feted before.

  12. List

    Epiforma is a brand new Portuguese design studio founded by Felipe Ferreira and Francisco Ribeiro in Porto. In spite of their newness it would appear they’ve long been busy working on all manner of projects across many facets of design. As well as practicing the more traditional graphic arts of branding and type design, they also produce high-end modular furniture, unusual board games and limited edition products. Judging by their website they’re also pretty good web designers and art directors too. In short, these guys appear to be very much the complete package and we’re excited to see what their first year of business holds in store.

  13. List

    I’m one of those people that will always need a desk-tidy. No matter how hard I try, I remain ineptly disorganised in the world of stationery – pens have missing lids, a pencil will rarely get re-sharpened and I’ve not been able to draw a straight line since I lost my ruler two years ago.