This is the beginning of my exploration of the London Design Festival 2011 and there are 200 participants and over 280 events in 25 different design areas. I have plans to go to about a dozen of them as it is quite overwhelming but fascinating. Evidently this is the largest design festival in the world. Hold on to your hats as what follows is just the first day.
I started with a lecture by Murray Moss at V&A about digital 3-D printing and examples are scattered through out the Victoria and Albert Museum so it was like a scavenger hunt to see them all, but brilliant and he is one cool old dude. He curated this collection from existing and commissions works and each is set for a reason in its space. It reminds me of what Ruben Ortiz-Torres says he is doing for the Long Beach Museum for Pacific Standard Time. By juxtaposing art works, you provoke new meaning on both. Displaying works of art in a relationships which are not time lined or regional but has to do with the influences is more historical but Moss envisions museums that could be science oriented one day and economic the next. . Moss was very interested in the way that nature can be mathamatised and how that could teach us things about structure in design. New architecture is not so much a referral to older styles (the variation on the box) but wide open to new materials construction in brand new ways. Some of the objects on view could not have been any other way but by 3-D printing.
Art work has been digitized before in a reductive process, where robots cut away in a reductive process, those bits not wants. Laser water jets controlled by computers are a good example of this. But 3-D printing is an additive process. Somewhere in between is digital modification to change an existing shape. This technique is pushed forward originally by the need for substitute body parts in the health industry. So far, we only read about the uses for peace purposes, but Moss thinks a broader dialogue is needed to cover the potential uses for war as well.
What you see below is a set of objects that were all made using 3-D printing. The light fixture opens and shuts like a flower in the sun the little stool telescopes up into a pole. The head of Lady Belhaven is reproduced in resin with a hat added to it by Stephen Jones in fiber filaments. The dress (this time on a dress form) was located in the only empty niche of the V&A hall opposite of one of the warrior saint. And the shoes were ringing the Bed of Ware which was supposed to sleep 16!
While looking for all these goodies, I discovered lots of other parts of the Design Festival. The entrance was decked out with a giant curve of interlocking wood bits called Timber Wave by Amanda Levete (left) that looks better in this photo than it did in real life. Bouroullec Brothers: Textile Field (right)- click the link to see a film of this being installed which is more interesting then the finished product,
basically a huge colored couch. When I saw it, exhausted museum visitors were reclining all over it. . The massive 240-square-meter structure was pieced together panel by panel over a fourteen-hour nocturnal stint captured by photographer Ben Dunbar-Brunton in the Raphael Gallery
A Pylon for the Future was a set of maquettes of short listed winners of a design contest by the Electric Grid. I think they missed the point here as these are really sculptures and no matter how elegant there is no way they will disappear into the landscape, so why not go all out and use a scheme of 6 which changes as you view them through the landscape.
Engineering Eyelashes: Paper Art by Jessica Palmer was a cute little
workshop for drop in visitors with an array of fiber papers for making jewelry and more sturdy glazed paper for making intricate cut out. I met Jessica who was wearing this collar necklace (left) at the time. I relaxed a bit from all that walking (three tube changes to get to the V&A from my flat in Clapham Common) and made a fun flower broach (right).
I was very surprised to be impressed with the Jameel, the bi-annual £25,000 international Art Prize for contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic traditions of art, craft and design. The Jameel Prize 2011 short listed artists and designers span a geographical region stretching from North America, to France, Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran. I did not notice the prize winner Rachid Koraïchi perhaps because it was more subtle.
The youngest artist in the shortlist, Noor Ali Chagani (left) lives in Pakistan and his sculptural works made from miniature terracotta bricks are like a piece of cloth. Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (middle) has combining Iranian traditions of mirror mosaic and reverse glass painting techniques with a modern aesthetic. Farmanfarmaian spent nearly a decade living in New York during the 1940’s and 1950’s as an art student and later as a fashion illustrator where she worked alongside Andy Warhol. Hadieh Shafie‘s (right) new works are made up of 22,500 strips of paper, each scroll is marked with printed and hand written Farsi (Persian) text then tightly rolled into concentri circles The concentric forms of both text and material take their inspiration from the dance of the whirling
dervish.Hadieh Shafie was born in Iran and lives and works in the USA.
Lifeline (2010) Birds of Paradise'(2008) 22500 (2011)
It is a very pleasant experience, walking around in an elegant tent erected in the middle of Berkeley Square at the LAPADA Art and Antique Fair presented by The Association of Art & Antique Dealers. Gold jewelry, silver presentation pieces, curiosities, furniture, paintings and drawings of the very finest quality, beautifully presented with a glass of champagne when one is parched, and a bit of smoked salmon if one felt faint. I gravitated to the Colander Table (so named for the holes) by Daniel Rohr, an edition of 8 for about $72,000 each which crated a stunning optical illusion. It dipped in the middle but a thick glass cover made it viable for use. This was the winner of the LAPADA "Object of the Year 2011 and presented by Peter Petrou Works of Art.
The Tent and Origin Fairs plus Super Brands which is one of five other displays near Brick Lane which is now the most happening place in the capitol. The streets were thronged and apparently this is not unusual for any weekend. The district was old and poor Jewish immigrants but is now a mix of Indian and yuppie. Spitalfields meat market has gone the way of Convent Garden flower market and is now all restaurants and shops. We got fabulous cheese from Androuet and chocolate brownies from St. Johns. Both were first consumed as a picnic lunch with wonderful cold meats, chocolates, corn nuts, baby artichokes, delicious bread and of course, wine, at Lesley’s nephew Ben’s temporary home while his business The Cold Press was displaying at the Tent Fair. (below)
The Old Truman Brewery London E1 was home to the English design fair in about 9 different rooms (NO actual tent!). These fun stools were made from cricket bats and more shapes liked cupcakes, fabulous puddled chrome chair, wonderful chandeliers that looked like them were made from a children’s erector set, and this clever knotted light.
These little fine porcelain pots all lined up like soldiers or a Morandi landscape (left) and this collection of little animals with a tiny pin cushion and two pins (right) was part of the onslaught of far eastern wares on view. .
I couldn’t help but document all the deer themed wall décor I saw at Design and Made
Another theme was birds that seemed to be everywhere.
Then on to Origins which was in the middle of Old Spitalfields Market London E1 and consisted of 6 long rows of small booths of fine crafts including a mass of jewelry, home décor objects, textiles and lighting. I was watchful for hats because of our upcoming Hats off to Life project and this antler hat seemed most impressive as it referred to all the deer I saw earlier at Tent.
Another trend was paper cut outs and you can see further birds here in paper as well.
This light sculpture below seems to tie every theme together and I am showing it with a wall of doll arms used to display necklaces. As always, many booths put a lot of thought into the display design and that is great fun to see.
But I think my favorite piece of the shows was these drawings in space, one at the Tent fair on the left and one at Origins on the right. I especially like the one on the right as it only used the essentials lines to tell its story.
Jan Plechac Maya Selway