First Visit; Vitra Schaudepot

Exterior of the Vitra Schaudepot, by Herzog & de Meuron. Photo © Vitra Design Museum, Julien Lanoo

Exterior of the Vitra Schaudepot, by Herzog & de Meuron. Photo © Vitra Design Museum, Julien Lanoo

Vitra Schaudepot
Vitra Design Museum
Charles-Eames-Str. 2, Weil am Rhein, Germany
Visited, 31 May 2016

I used to go on press trips so regularly that I thought I didn’t need holidays. Travelling on planes and trains across Europe, America and further afield I visited designers, studios, factories and museums. Having swopped my peripatetic lifestyle for a more sedentary teaching gig, this press trip came out of the blue. I previously visited Vitra for a MUSCON conference (read about it, here) and marvelled at the Vitra Haus (read, here), so was aware of the upcoming addition to the extraordinary campus and keen to see the Schaudepot (Open Storage), a relatively new development in museum practice. A return visit wasn’t on my agenda though, so when this invitation popped into my inbox along with a commission to review the Vitra Collection’s new home, I was up for it! My article appeared in Blueprint magazine (no.347, p.36) and is available online at Design/Curial, here. This post adds details from the press conference and a conversation with Curator Janna Lipsky.
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First Visit; IKEA Museum

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This gallery contains 36 photos.

IKEA Museum IKEAgatan, 5, 343.36 Älmhult, Sweden ikeamuseum.com Visited, 9 June 2016 Invited to the Press Preview of the new IKEA Museum, I travelled to the company town of Älmhult in southern Sweden. Later I wrote an article about the … Continue reading

Tomorrow’s Designer; discussion at the Design Museum

Screen Shot from the Design Museum’s website, detailing the evening’s event

Tomorrow’s Designer: What next for Designers in Residence?
Design Museum
Shad Thames, London SE1
23 March 2016

Chair: Justin McGuirk, Chief Curator, the Design Museum.
Speakers: Indy Johar Co-founder of Architecture00; Gem Barton Course Leader in Interior Architecture, University of Brighton; Ineke Hans of Studio|Ineke Hans; and Asif Khan founder of architecture studio Asif Khan Limited.

The opening of the new Design Museum, its latest incarnation, is getting closer, the stand-alone shop on High Street Kensington launched this week, and the main Museum building will be unveiled in late November. Right now, the Design Museum in Shad Thames is closed. So here’s a review of the last event I attended, back in March, which discussed the “designer of the future” with reference to the Museum’s Designers in Residence programme.
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From the Archive; revisiting Norwegian design

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“Non-competitive Advantage”
by Liz Farrelly
Blueprint
No.336, pp.148-164

On the occasion of an exhibition promoting Norwegian design in New York, here’s an article from my archive, “Non-competitive Advantage”, available on DesignCurial. Originally published in Blueprint magazine, I wrote it after a snowy trip to Oslo in February 2014, organised by the Norwegian Embassy in London and hosted by DOGA, the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture. A group of European journalists met and mingled with Norwegian designers, and as well as seeing and hearing about new work the big surprise (for me) was the Norwegian government’s commitment to promoting Norway’s nascent design industry.
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Catch the moment; Composite, LDF and the British Council talk design

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Composite
Two Columbia Road
2 Columbia Road, London E2
20 to 25 September 2011

“Composite is both verb and noun, an action and an outcome, a process and a finished product. Within it are roots and hints of other words — compose, composition, posit, position, site and compare — all of which relate to art, architecture, fashion and design. This exhibition brings together a disparate group of creatives who’ve crossed those borders, gone beyond all comfort zones. Often working in collaboration, they’ve mutated their practice to produce hybridised, surprising solutions.

Questioning traditional processes, reusing discarded materials, exploring overlooked technologies, composing disparate elements, exposing the artificial, celebrating the mundane; these are just some of their tactics. The end results, the works on show, are diverse but they share two things in common, a degree of intricacy and ‘a way in’. They’re not exclusive, instead we’re encouraged to engage and play, inspect and manipulate, delve and re-arrange. Complex, interactive, considered, non-precious; this work is of its time. We live in a composite world.”
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From the Archive; Furniture, Jerwood Applied Arts Prize 1999

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Furniture: Jerwood Applied Arts Prize 1999
Jerwood Charitable Foundation
Crafts Council Gallery
441 Pentonville Road, London N1
26 August to 3 October 1999

I wrote an essay for this exhibition catalogue (produced by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and the Crafts Council, designed by Pentagram) while I was a nomad, living and working between two continents. I remember the irony of writing about furniture when all I owned was in storage, but I was an unrepentant collector, even buying pieces from fellow students while at the RCA (Allison Jane Thomas’s Tutti-Frutti stool (1990) is in the V&A; mine is upholstered in tan leather).

Coincidentally, 1999 was when auctioneer Alexander Payne first coined the term Design Art; he later ditched it due to “misuse” as reported in ICON (8/2/08). So, when I say in the essay, “furniture has no pedestal”, that was about to change, although the turn towards narrative and meaning beyond function was acknowledged.

Another shift of emphasis has occurred in the career trajectories of new designers. Where I listed migration to Milan, the epicentre of the contemporary furniture trade, as a right of passage, subsequent diversification of production has widened the geographical spread of design activity. “Eleven years ago UNESCO launched the Creative Cities Network to recognize cities around the world whose creativity has an impact on their social, economic, and political development”; Business Insider spotlights 16 design-focused cities, here. Through a mix of city council initiatives, the presence of museums and universities (with students travelling to study and then relocating), and Design Festivals and Biennales that disperse the power of promotion, designers are living and working beyond the industry’s powerhouse cities (Milan, Paris, Tokyo, New York, London), in places like Oslo, Cape Town, Istanbul, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Hints of that trend were evident in the career choices of the designers selected for this award, perhaps because they foregrounded making in their practice as opposed to mass-production. The shortlist featured Jane Atfield, Robert Kilvington, Mary Little, Michael Marriott, Guy Martin, Jim Partridge, Simon Pengelly and Michael Young.
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Turning the century; contemporary design at the V&A

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Design Since 1945
Permanent Display, Room 76, Level 3
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, London SW7
www.vam.ac.uk
Visited, 27 August 2015

The other day I popped into the V&A for a quick refresher. It was a busy weekday near the end of the school holidays, and while there were queues outside the Natural History Museum and the V&A’s ground floor galleries were full of bodies, the upper floors were relatively quiet. I took the opportunity to see how the permanent display of contemporary design might have evolved since I last too a look (not sure when that was). On the V&A’s website the Design Since 1945 gallery in Room 76 (one of three rooms labelled “Modern” on the Museum Map) is described as showing art and design from the end of the Second World War to the present day; it also aims to present contemporary developments. Continue reading

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VitraHaus, displaying design for sale; implications for design museums

VitraHaus
Vitra Campus
Ray-Eames-Str. 1, Weil Am Rhein, Germany
www.vitra.com
Visited, 16 to 18 October 2014

In relation to design objects and the museum, VitraHaus, the close neighbour of VDM, is worth pondering. Sited on the Vitra campus, it opened in 2010. As the flagship store for the Vitra Home Collection it showcases the furniture manufacturer’s domestic ranges (distinct from the contract products that are specified by architects for public and office spaces). On Vitra’s vast website, the page for VitraHaus invites us to “find inspiration for your home, explore your taste in design and try out, order and purchase furniture and design objects”.

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Bethan Laura Wood in lights; interview

Bethan Laura Wood and Liz Farrelly
Conversation, 15 August 2013

Bethan's contribution to Selfridge's Festival of Imagination. PHOTO MATT WRITTLE © copyright Matt Writtle 2013.

Bethan’s contribution to Selfridge’s Festival of Imagination.
PHOTO MATT WRITTLE
© copyright Matt Writtle 2013.

During the London Design Festival, Bethan Laura Wood staged her first solo show in the UK, at The Aram Gallery, London, entitled, Zigzag:Crisscross. I interviewed her beforehand, but it was more of a conversation, over dinner at L’Entrepôt, and below is the edited interview that appeared in the small but perfectly formed publication, which accompanied the show. This month Bethan and her studio colleague, Kim Thome, unveiled a window installation as part of Selfridge’s Festival of Imagination. A big hit with Selfridges and the ICA, Bethan also contributed to the ICA Off-Site exhibition staged in the shell of Selfridges hotel building, also in September 2013, and I’ll be adding some thoughts about that show later.

Exhibition booklet

Liz Farrelly: “Zigzag:Crisscross” at the Aram Gallery features two new projects. Why bring them together?
Bethan Laura Wood: As a young designer, the idea of having a retrospective seemed wrong; so this is a show of work made this year, and the two projects are inspired by urban environments where I live and work. Zigzag comes under the umbrella of the London collection (which also includes Particle), and Crisscross was inspired by Mexico City. Plus, it’s an ongoing investigation – and love – of the materials that make up the city, and especially the layering in a city like London, built up over years.
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