Amelia’s Magazine | 100% Design – Possible Objects for (Im)possible Living


There are examples of design so sufficient in its function that one finds it difficult to think around (or out) of it. If I look about my house and try to wonder how the objects that fill it came to be there, pill I come to realise that if these things were to suddenly fall apart, I wouldn’t know how to put them back together. What could replace an object as anonymous and indiscreet as an iron? Why bother spending the time thinking about an alternative, when the original already exists and de-creases your blouse to perfection? I’m somewhat put at edge by my own passivity.

Good design could be argued to be those objects that become timeless, seamlessly slipping into your life, untouchable to the new ideas of those who propose to alter them. Though as I look at the objects exhibited in the 2009 DESIGN FESTIVAL, it isn’t the objects I already depend on, or feel I can’t live without that excites me, it is those that disrupt and ask me to re-think how I live.

The two exhibitions that really addressed these concerns, in fun and imaginative ways, were the KithKin collective and a group of RCA graduates from the ‘Design Interactions’ course. KithKin presented a number of young designers showcasing diverse possibilities in design. Such as, the attempt to propose a reality were objects can speak (Amina Nazari) and jewellery made out of the hair and ashes of deceased loved ones, to facilitate alternative methods of mourning (Anna Schwamborn).


Yan Lu’s ‘Poor Little Fish’, plays with the consumer’s emotions by entangling the ethical implications of water waste, with the additional potential of the distress of a parched fish. Depending on the duration you take getting a glass of purified water, at the same time a different pipe gradually draws out water from the fishes bowl, confronting the consumer with the necessity to consider the amount of water they could potentially waste. –Don’t worry; the fishes’ tank is designed to fill up immediately when it gets too low, so no unnecessary accidents!


The designs by the RCA graduates in the exhibition, ‘Disruptive Thinking’, seek to embed alternate living modes in line with those that are already accepted. Vanessa Harden’s ‘The Subversive Gardener’, subtly re-modifies ordinary work attire into an outfit that conceals gadgets assisting guerrilla gardening. Being a busy business wo/man, who doesn’t have the time to cart gardening tools around the city, no longer provides an excuse not to get those plants back into the urban landscape. Harden’s renovated city bags come with a contraption that discreetly makes a small hole in the grass and uses a conveyor belt to smoothly pot in a plant. All you have to do is put your bag down on the ground, push a button disguised as a handle fastener, and wait a few seconds whilst you take a break to chat on your mobile.

Design for these artists is not just about problem solving and calculating solutions for everyday difficulties. Design becomes an explosive variable that acts as a catalyst for the meeting of fiction and reality. It is about creating an object that not only has a commonplace function, but also acts as a portal between people, creating stimulating spaces for the reaction to issues affecting each other’s lives.

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