The Goldsmiths Design Degree show was in the Nickolls & Clarke building near Shoreditch Town Hall. It’s my favourite design space; Designersblock used it for a few years. It’s a sprawl of ex-warehouse, rough and ready type rooms on different levels, and of varying sizes. There is no obvious way to walk around the space, so it’s perfect for large collectives of designers without hierarchy because the viewers look at everything randomly.
The work the Goldsmiths students did was mostly excellent. The problem was that their ideas were often so complicated, they could not be communicated quickly. After having concentrated on 15 different ideas and how the students approached them, it’s difficult to take in any more – especially during a private view with free alcohol and socialising to do!
Their booklet was in fact a collection of A4 posters, one per student, folded in half and held together with a big rubber band. Consequently you have to take it apart to see the work. I hope we don’t do that for my graduation. I don’t think it’s a very good idea. People want to keep things together for reference – or at least I do, and I assume other people do that too.
A highlight of the evening was Henry Flitton‘s Morris dancing. Apparently it is legal for Morris dancers to dance anywhere in the UK without a license. There is a video of the 6 of them doing it in Trafalgar Square, with two ukelele players. They did two songs for us live – it was just right, they didn’t play for too long. Henry’s project was about reclaiming culture – this also involved making his own beer and chocolate, which he was more precious about people eating than his signs had let on. ‘Please steal me’ next to beer bottles when the bar’s run dry is going to lead to some beer bottles being stolen.
Another project that really worked was Matt House’s project about copying. He made a video about how he got other design students to copy the Phillipe Stark Juicy Salif in the style of a third design student. Some nice video editing and visual communication. He got a room all to himself (I wonder how he got that) and set up a table with chairs on either side. He sat on one of the chairs with a bowler hat on, and behind him was a backdrop of the background of that surrealist painting. He had an apple on the table too. There was a sign that said ‘sit down opposite me’ or something to that effect. As soon as you did something, he would copy it a split second later, be it words or gestures. It was a little unnerving! But a good piece of interactive art, if you can call it that.
Memorably, someone grew his own crickets and covered them with chocolate and served them. I was going to eat one… after a bit of egging on from my friends… but I held it by the leg and the leg snapped and the chocolate bit dropped to the floor. Now, if I were to do that project, I’d make half of them how he did – chocolate (lightly) dipped crickets – and the other half as chocolates with a cricket inside them so you can’t see it. People eat with their eyes to a certain extent. It would have been interesting to see how much more popular the smothered crickets were to the dipped crickets. The designer was a bit annoyed that I didn’t eat the cricket after all… he’d probably been dealing with that all evening. But what did he expect, really, it’s a cultural thing! Designing a micro farm for crickets and calling that a project is not enough. It doesn’t really challenge why we don’t eat bugs here, and that was meant to be the intention of his project.