Tag Archives: 2011

Hidden Heroes at the Science Museum

Once I’d seen this video, I really wanted to go to the Hidden Heroes exhibition. It promised to show a selection of inventions that shaped our culture. It did live up to that expectation. It didn’t live up to my expectation of how design was presented though.
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The Jameel Prize 2011

This was the Jameel Prize exhibition this year at the V&A. I’m not sure when it will be open until; it’s going on tour at some point. Zaha Hadid is the patron of the prize, which is awarded to artists or designers inspired by Islamic tradition.

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Industrial Revolution 2.0 at the V&A, Design Week 2011

Passing through the statue hall in the V&A, I did a double take. This statue had been plonked next to the familiar classical permanent ones. Looking at it, it seemed to have a theme of modern notions of beauty – fashion accessories floated from the bust’s hair. The presence of the bust was a good touch to the V&A’s collections during Design Week.

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Goldsmiths at New Designers 2011

I found the Goldsmiths stand 15 minutes before I had to leave for work. Can’t tell you how much I regret that! When I came in, I found them singing a song that they had written in response to a brief. The brief was something along the lines of ‘help me file my stuff because I’m really messy’. I love it that they wrote a song instead of designing a filing cabinet, which is what most students at New Designers would do. I think I’d be more likely to write a song than design a filing cabinet for that sort of problem now too – I’ve been Goldsmithsified! I don’t think other designers quite understand the value of that thinking.

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The Hybrid Jam Session

A while ago I emailed Francesca Sarti from Arabeschi di Latte asking if I could be involved in any of her upcoming projects… and wonderfully she said yes. For Refugee Week in London, Haptic Thought was curating an exhibition and events that aimed to demonstrate the value of refugees’ inputs on culture in London; more specifically, how our cuisine is affected. Francesca was asked to design the food.

This event was called The Hybrid Jam Session. We put on a jam-making workshop for kids, using a variety of fruit, but also baobab powder which comes from the tree of life. It was held in the So Far, The Future gallery space just off Lamb’s Conduit Street, near Russell Square.

Initially the workshop was going to be for refugee children but it didn’t quite work out that way; in the end, we recruited kids from the local park. It was a lovely sunny day so there were plenty of people about, and I think the families that came had a great time at our session.

We enjoyed the fruits of our efforts (pun intended!) with scones and tea.


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Kinetica Art Fair

I volunteered for a few days at Kinetica Art Fair. It was a pretty good international collection of ‘kinetic art’, much of which made use of some new interesting technology. There were holographic film screenings and sculptures which, when touched, would emit a buzzing sound – like this one.

Echidna II by Tine Bech.

Mike Blow‘s piece was a series of small speakers with water on them. They would make very low sounds that would make ripples in the water. I couldn’t help imagining what a band would sound like – different speakers for different instruments. The bass would make one kind of ripple in the water and drums would make ripples of different shapes at different times… it’s another way to visualize music. How do deaf people experience music? …but his art didn’t go that far.

Quadratura screen. Each person was recognised as a different colour. Viewers could ‘make their own painting’. There was a delightful time delay – one expects everything digital to be instantaneous so it’s refreshing to have something a bit mixed up.

Heartbeat handbag. The handbag was the same age as the artist, and was moving in time to her recorded heartbeat.

Monomatic: Nick Rothwell and Lewis Sykes. Modular Music Box. The bit I like is how you wind it up, and then the lights fade one by one along the circle around the winder as it winds down. Not very impressed by the modular ballerina in the mirrors really – you can really tell this was designed by men. It was unfortunate that the delicate sounds the box made were drowned out in the context of the art fair; one had to put their ear right up to the speaker.

TheĀ Cabaret Mechanical Theatre lived in my childhood memories of Covent Garden… until this month! Finally I had loads of automata to play with again. You could even go so far as to say that the automata in Covent Garden contributed to me wanting to be a designer – it helped spark my interest in making physical things work. I was so sad when their shop closed. At least my little brother got to see their stuff in the fair. They’ve done a lot of new stuff, they’re worth checking out occasionally for playful design. This one was on sale in the shop:

And this one was a minature version of the collapsing chair I saw in Milan 2010… or was it Tent or something in London 2009? Can’t quite remember.

Madi Boyd: a particularly interesting installation piece. You enter a dark space, with what seems to be a screen with a grid on it at one end. As you approach, you see that the grid is in fact layers of grids spaced out. Then you realise it’s not a screen, it’s mirrors and… lasers? No… it’s something being caught in the light shining from the back of the installation… you reach out to touch it, and it’s in fact string – cotton string and nylon string gridded across the space. The light moves and creates different, hypnotizing patterns, that seem to go on infinitely with the mirrors.

Seeper: Interactive MultiTouch Sphere. (Their title, not mine… that midway capitalization seems a bit dated, doesn’t it?)

Poietic: iPhone controlled floating balls. I was holding the iPhone, and when someone came and stared and didn’t understand what the installation was, I told him to blow, and I made the balls rise… ‘blow harder!’… they went up higher. When he waved his arms to stop, I made them drop. That was pretty fun. Hope he found out how it really worked later… or maybe it’s better to keep it magic. Another time, I pretended that I was moving the balls by hovering my hand over the top of individual ones… didn’t work so well though, you kind of need an audience who doesn’t know how it works for that kind of game to be successful.

Middlesex University. Darren was a sweetie. The vase moved around the table when it detected motion. It would come towards you and lean forward out to you… sometimes over-enthusiastically and then would fall.

Pe Lang is an artist who, to be honest, doesn’t really appeal to me that much. What I found interesting was that his girlfriend is his business partner. I talked to her about design duos and marriage – can it work? Dunne and Raby, the Azumis… it seems like an intense lifestyle. You’d never get time apart from one another. Bet that would kill the romance. You’d have to really really love each other and be patient. She said that one must compromise. Since his work is what’s working out right now, she loses out on her music side. They do joint music and art work, but haven’t recently because he is so busy with his own projects. That doesn’t sound fair to me.

Anyway, I got a lot out of being a volunteer here. It was quite an unpleasant exhibition design – it was hot, unventilated, noisy, and there was terrible lighting too – an interior architect’s nightmare. But the exhibition pieces themselves were interesting and worth seeing.


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