‘When the Design Museum opened in 1989, the first exhibition, Commerce and Culture, was about the value of industrial products. Three decades later, we now take that value for granted. Fear and Love goes further, and proposes that design is implicated in wider issues that reflect the state of the world. By inviting these designers to create installations with such an open brief, the museum presents itself as a laboratory of ideas, and a place for absorbing how the world is changing,’ – Justin McGuirk, Chief Curator at the Design Museum
On Thursday 24th November 2016, the Design Museum will open in its new home on Kensington High Street, designed by OMA and John Pawson. I have been looking forwards to experiencing the finished product of this high profile collaborations by world’s leading designers and architects – a project which has lasted over 10 years to materialise, and I have to say that the New Design Museum certainly does not disappoint: whether it be the architecture, the opening exhibition, the permanent exhibition or the restaurants and learning facilities, every aspect of this project has received the highest level of attention to details.
The Opening Exhibition, ‘Fear and Love’, presents eleven thought-provoking installations by some of the most innovative designers and architects working today. These newly commissioned works explore a spectrum of issues that define our time, including networked sexuality, sentient robots, slow fashion and settled nomads. The exhibition shows how design is deeply connected not just to commerce and culture but to urgent underlying issues – issues that inspire fear and love. This is a multidisciplinary and global exhibition that aims to capture the mood of the present and establish the Design Museum as the home of design debate.
Some of the pieces that were particularly outstanding were:
1. The Pan-European Living Room by OMAIn response to the recent Brexit vote, OMA, the architecture practice founded by Rem Koolhaas, created a living room furnished with a piece of design from each of the 28 EU member states, omitting only Britain. The missing link was further amplified in the centerpiece of the room where OMA has installed a vertical blind in the form of barcode flags for each of the EU member countries, showing one missing flag strip representing the UK. The installation proposes that the very notion of British domestic interior has been shaped by an idea of European cooperation and trade. How would a country like the UK move forwards when it has decided to isolate itself from the world?
2. Vespers by Neri Oxman Neri Oxman, an architect, designer and professor at MIT in Boston, has created a series of death masks called Vespers using ultra-high definition 3D printing. Created in collaboration with the Mediated Matter Group, the pieces have been designed for “The New Ancient” Collection by STRATASYS Ltd. Reviving this ancient ritual object traditionally made using wax or plaster with state-of-the-art technology, Oxman speculates on how wearable accessories might help to transform us at the end of our lives.
3. Fibre Market by Christien Meindertsma This installation explores the potential of recycling textiles. Noting that there is almost no culture of textile recycling, she examines lost value of 1000 discarded woolen sweaters, turning their fibres into a highly physical and colourful presence for the exhibition.
Other pieces in the exhibition includes, Room Tone by fashion designer Hussein Chalayan, who has produced a series of wearable devices that detect your emotions and project them for the outside world to see…
Mimus, a living, breathing 1200kg industrial robot created by Madeline Gannon, capable of interacting with humans as they near her enclosure…
Fear and Love addresses a wide range of keys issues facing today’s urban living conditions, and its effects on the human psyche.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Julija Jevzikova