Vivienne Westwood ethically produced bags.
The Design Museum‘s flagship exhibition, Designs of the Year, has returned for 2012. I went along to the preview to check out the experts’ choice of the best from multiple design disciplines; including fashion, architecture, product design, digital and graphics. Here’s my pick:
Outline Editions have brought along designer Noma Bar and his Cut It Out dog machine, which is able to cut through all sorts of materials. His artwork is inspired by negative space – he gleefully told me how he has taken to trawling charity shops for interesting things that the dog can chomp through. As well as the wonderful simplicity of his bold imagery I am particularly attracted to the upcycling side of this clever project.
GF Smith create beautiful papers (they were used in the first two issues of Amelia’s Magazine in print) and their colourful display was inspired by the microscopic detail of paper fibres. Designed by SEA Design with Field.
Using bold yellow with red and black typography, De Designpolitie of the Netherlands have created a brand identity for the two day What Design Can Do! conference in May 2012. I love that they are not afraid of making a statement!
The National Maritime Museum‘s High Arctic display to highlight the fragility of the environment was represented with a tiny model. This immersive gallery installation must have been quite mesmerising in situ.
Representing the very best of British fashion was an outfit from Mary Katrantzou‘s seminal A/W 2011 collection: great to see the digital detailing and remarkable cutting up close.
Suno of New York was a new ethical fashion discovery: they work locally with artisans to create highly desirable collections – the first one used vintage Kenyan textiles but more recently they were inspired by the subtle colours and abstract designs of Art Deco illustrator George Lepape.
And then there’s Vivienne Westwood grinning gleefully from beneath her bird’s nest hair. Her Ethical Fashion Africa collection is created out of scrap materials by marginalised women in Nairobi. The outcome? Typically colourful designs with outrageous slogans embroidered out of Masai beads.
I was most intrigued by Bethan Laura Wood‘s incredible Moon Rock table, made using colourful kitchen laminates. Her Totem lighting was also on display. Miranda Williams previously spotted Bethan‘s beautiful work at London Design Week, for this talented lady also makes jewellery.
Thixotropes by Troika are huge spinning LED sculptures that combine art and science. Hypnotic!
Heracleum is a hanging light by Studio Bertjan Pot – designed to imitate the branching form of a plant.
The Comedy Carpet in Blackpool is a huge 2,200 sq metre granite installation designed by Gordon Young with Why Not Associates. It features jokes and catchphrases in glorious decorative fonts of all sizes. I am very impressed that such a thing was commissioned!
The Hovding Invisible Cycle Helmet is designed for stick in the muds such as me who refuse to wear a bike helmet. It contains an airbag that sits around the neck and is only activated should an accident occur.
The Orb-It is a small hand held rechargeable vacuum hoover by Black & Decker. It looks very cute, but I’d like to see it in action.
The panel of judges encompasses a diverse range of artistic talent, which explains the chaotically eclectic nature of this exhibition. Despite some arbitrary choices (I mean, there’s so much good design out there, where do you start?!) Designs of the Year offers a great chance to discover some exciting new design from a wide range of fields. My one wish would be that more designers begin to incorporate sustainable practice into their work: one of the wall infographics depressingly stated that only 19% of projects on show have been designed to be sustainable. It will take more than that to sort out this mess we are in.
- Tent London 2011 Review: Best Surface Design
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- New Designers 2011 Part Two: One Year On Show Review
- New Designers 2012 Jewellery Graduates and One Year On
- Christmas Gift Ideas 2012: Top Ten Best Mugs by Illustrators and Designers