This is the 6th year I’ve been invited to nominate for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year, so took the opportunity to look back at what I’ve put forward since 2008. It’s mostly been product or furniture and increasingly social and digital. There’s always a wheelchair, usually a medical product and something that hasn’t quite fit into one of the categories. As was the case with a service design project in 2010. For this year’s show, expertly curated by Gemma Curtin and elegantly designed by Huntington Narud, I nominated: Chair 4 Life, a wheelchair that adapts to its users, by Renfrew Group; The Seaboard Grand, a keyboard without keys by Roli [Product category winner] and Peek, a pocket-sized ophthalmology department by PeekVision [Digital category winner]. One category winner will go on to be named the overall winner.
Let’s have a bit of calm here shall we? 2011 closed with a bit too much excitement; here’s to a nice, dull 2012. Not that January has started quite in that vein, with a studio visit to San Francisco closely followed by an outing to Stockholm, and any number of promising little projects in the works. But there’s 11 months left to the year, so we have hope!
As to the causes of our excitement?
Well. Power of Making closed just 2 weeks ago, with record visitor numbers now confirmed: 320,703 was the final figure (how they get it accurate to those 3 people we have no idea). This makes it the most popular free exhibition since 1950. That’s 1950. On a slightly shallower note, this means it beat the Kylie exhbition. Teehee.
If that wasn’t sufficient:
Long term client and close to our hearts, plans for London’s new Design Museum were unveiled this week and congratulations to them on how well received it has been. Though our contributions, in the form of interpretation policy, collecting policy and permanent exhibition curating are yet to go public, our report (possibly the most extensive and expansive piece of strategy work we’ve ever authored) has been submitted to hugely positive response from the client and wider consultant team. Phew.
Now, among other things, we can get back to following through on the promise that was our Parliament experiment, which in spite of its forlorn and unloved appearance right now has been generating some interesting conversations. And yes, directing our efforts toward making 2012 as calm and low key as possible*.
* Reserving the right to revisit this at any point during the year should it become necessary…
Well maybe the sun never quite shone but it’s been a busy summer, culminating in the opening of Power of Making at the V&A museum, curated by our very own Master Daniel Charny, just a couple of nights ago. What can we add to this and this and this? Maybe 3,000 visitors on the first day is sufficient!
The other highlight of this summer has to be our recent appointment as Content and Interpretation Consultants for the Design Museum’s planned move to the former Commonwealth Institute in 2014. We’re tasked with drafting a new Interpretation Policy and we’re planning the permanent exhibition, as well as further work to their collection, all targeted on a Heritage Lottery stage 2 bid. We’re working with an extensive team including John Pawson Architects, Morag Myerscough and others. Did I mention we’re quite excited about this too?
Other news in the works, including the next stage of Parliament of Owls, Dee judging the Design Fund for Growth (and, ummm, joining the luminaries of the Awesome Foundation?!). But another time. Until then, here’s hoping for that indian summer….
Hurrah. The Incidental has been shortlisted for Designs of the Year at the Design Museum. “Recognising the best of contemporary design around the world” the little tiddler is in heady (and eclectic) company indeed. Which is one of the things we have enjoyed about the reformatting of the award from the previous Designer of the Year – we’re with Patrick Bourgoyne over at Creative Review who last year enjoyed the ‘the quirky and the controversial’ array on display…
It’s been interesting though. Apart from our surprise at making it through to shortlist, there’s a couple of other things about the process that have left us scratching our heads. Not least the credit: The Incidental was a genuine, honest to goodness, collaborative project (rare as hens teeth in our not inconsiderable experience). We might have initiated and steered it but Berg, Abake, electronest and the client were key, and foremost of dozens who input not least the reporters and tweeters. Plus the category question – what exactly is The Incidental? To reference it as newsletter or a website is to underplay some of it’s more interesting aspects – in particular the novel production and dissemination processes which are equally part of the design.
But hey we’re not complaining; very happy to be there and looking forward to seeing the exhibition (opening 17 February at the Design Museum).
O dear, whatever we’ve been doing recently it evidently hasn’t included updating this website. We’ve been busy busying ourselves with:
- The Incidental, back (better?) for the British Council at the London Design Festival. Abake refined and polished and Jerome Rigaud at electronest crafted this online.
- Grassworks at the Aram Gallery – utility driven, flat pack, exceptional design – one of the better shows of the London Design Festival? Icon thinks so.
- The Design Museum has signed on their new building and we’re helping them think about their future.
- And last but not least a growing number of consultancy projects see us advising strategy and delivery issues on a number of museum, digital and branding related projects.
Now heads down and turn up the heating. It’s getting cold outside and we’ve got a top secret project to develop. More here (eventually).
We’ve been working with the Design Museum in London for a couple of years now, looking at future strategies for their Collections. More recently in addition Daniel has been curating not 1 but 2 exhibitions due to open there this summer. Now we’re just counting the days until the first, Super Contemporary, “celebrating the fearlessly progressive spirit of London’s greatest creative minds, past and present”, opens to the public on June 3 (and our lives get a lot less hectic).
For Super Contemporary (in spite of my pleading to be more sensible) he has commissioned 15 pieces of new work from London designers including Thomas Heatherwick, David Adjaye and Industrial Facility as well as a series of personal maps of London from for example Airside, Michael Marriott and Imagination. It’s really unusual to have all new work for a design exhibition of this scale (which usually would focus on existing material)… And the proof will be in the pudding, or actually in the Design Museum from 3 June til 04 October. More here and elsewhere soon I spect.
In the meantime there’s a cool tool, also commissioned as part of the exhibition, which invites the design or close-to-design community to map their collaborations and locate themselves in the London design landscape. Check out The Collabregater. With a name like that how could you resist?