The Design Museum of London have unleashed the shortlist for ‘Designs of the Year 2012’. A design world clash of the titans is underway, a battle between lightwood chairs and textiles, artful kernings and red brick. The nominees are placed within a plethora of categories including architecture, digital fashion and graphics. Some of the entries are more establishment such as the Royal wedding dress and others off the petrol reliant tracks.
Below is a selection of various nominated work that I chose as the contenders to look out for. In particular notice nearby nominee ‘The Hepworth, Wakefield.’ Although on perusal of the different design categories and competition hopefuls, it was apparent that all entries were clever and fascinating, this selection appealed to me for aesthetic and ideological reasons. (If you want to come to your own conclusions see the Design Museum site. If you wish to see more of the below, videos and images are easily found on the interweb.
- One highlight of the product design entries are the ‘Troika Thixotropes’ from the London design collective ‘Troika’ known for their experimental and cross disciplinary approach. These are truly beautiful delicate art objects, that move with a mixture of science and magic. I appreciate how they are functional objects that serve the purpose of appearing transcendant and hallucinatory. The forms appear simple yet incorporate sound sight and movement to accomplished effect.
- The Parisian ‘Autolib’ is a new electric car sharing service which started last October, came into trouble in December yet has seen 6,000 people sign up for the service I was informed when in Paris by a Parisian with a cigarette that the bike hire service, the futuristic two wheelers were a great success but were often vandalised, yet the company had enough money to replace them. Predictably the ‘Autolib Car has faced similar problems which hopefully can be overcome. On a slight side note I was mainly impressed with the transport system of Paris besides the obvious of great galleries, jaunts and the café lifestyle so was great news to discover that the ‘Autolib Car’ has been nominated for a design award in the transport category, further moving Paris into city of the future status.
- ‘The Hepworth, Wakefield,’ is the architecture contender courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects. This undoubtedly striking building is like marmite to all of us, a sticky subject. Much more beautiful than many of the surrounding corrugated iron tile and pipe flouting monstrosities surrounding, and more noble that the nearby 80s fusion style modern monstrosity of the nearby cinema adjoining am Italian pizza eatery. On the opening night of ‘The Hepworth Wakefield’ there were many luminaries fluttering around the galleries including Ed Balls of Labour, an assured man of cuboid shaped build, and Aggie of Kim and Aggie looking for germs and dust amongst the Hepworths and Moores. I noticed an assured looking fellow whom I initially assumed was Andrew Lloyd Weber, looking for inspiration for his new piece in the making, ‘West Yorkshire the musical.’ It was in fact the architect himself, David Chipperfield with his continental kissing coterie bathing in the glory of his creation with a twinkle in his eye, and many an admirer in nearby tow. Whether he wins this award or not he has created a masterpiece of consistent and bold form.
- Noma Bar’s ‘Cut it Out’ project has been listed in the graphics category. His cut-out images are simple, bold and humorous reminiscent of the succinct film poster design of the 1950s. Noma has worked for an impressive set of clients including ‘The New York Times,’ ‘The Guardian,’ ‘Esquire’ and ‘Time Out.’ Despite often working to a tight brief, Noma Bar’s work is full of imagination and ingenuity communicating a plethora of ideas in original and clear ways. His optical illusions are the children of the Victorian age yet the colours, shapes and messages are of today imbued with wit and cleverness, a simple, elegant, direct and witty way to use negative space.
- ‘Textile Field’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum is the standout piece from the furniture category. Some would say that lying down on a carpet in front of masterpieces of painted art is akin to laughing in church. Yet the creation of French design team Ronan and Erwan Bourollec, a raised carpet in the centre of a long gallery space is truly fresh and an innovative nudge in a clever direction in terms of the way we attend and view work in a gallery. The venue however is majestic yet not always sacrosanct, the carpet like a tapestry of sky and fields causing the gallery visitor to look at the artworks like a daydreamer looking at passing clouds of exquisite form. Surrounding the carpet are the works of Renaissance prodigy Raphael the gallery of which was built in 1865 at which time the painter’s images were at their apotheois and when art galleries and museums were somewhat sacred spaces. The viewer is like Jacob asleep with visions of angels climbing a staircase up into heaven.
- Mary Katrantzou is the creator in the fashion category, a name I had not heard of but have not regretted hearing. She originates from Athens, Greece and attended the famous ‘Rhode Island School of Design,’ one of the greatest art schools in the world and the parent of the art band ‘Talking Heads’ and David Byrne. She is inspired by other art forms including the metallic crushed car sculptures of pop artist John Chamberlain. The patterns are exquisite the cuts of the dresses arresting, ecstatic, sweet, poisonous and explosive in this present age of grey and beige. Her work may be more conventional than others in this category, but the colours and motifs of her fabrics are alchemic and more of a subtle yet satisfying chocolate factory magic than the others. They look wearable but not workaday, elegant and vibrant with colours and pattern combinations from outer space. Although Vivienne Westwood is always interesting it is always satisfying to find new additions to the fashion world.
- ‘High Arctic’ at the National Maritime Museum is an all encompassing experience of all the senses that is probably unlike anything you’ve seen in a museum before. Whether you favour museums of the dusty kind or museums of the touch screen kind, this is a new kind of exhibit that looks visually beguiling. Created by Matt Clark after a research expedition and entered in the digital category his pieace is the result of meeting all kinds of scientists and art types on an arctic expedition and his completed installation is a response to the sculptural forms, colours and sounds during his time in the tundra, glaciers and ice. Matt Clark is part of the collective named United Visual Artists. (U.V.A.) This artistic practice has exhibited in numerous locations all over the U.K. including the Royal College of Art, The British Library and Durham Cathedral. They produce outputs in numerous forms and disciplines of which High Arctic is the latest and boldest, the poetry and visuals of which will unfortunately close soon.