Designers In Residence at The Design Museum

CRAVE went along to the Nicer Tuesdays event hosted by It’s Nice That to meet this year’s crop of design talent, Designers In Residence 2014 at the Design Museum.

Design is increasingly a young man’s game, and we really think that’s as it should be. In the spirit of this celebration of fresh talent and youthful outlook this month we visited the Nicer Tuesdays exclusive event showcasing Designers In Residence at The Design Museum 2014. Now in its seventh year, the tried and tested format of Designers in Residence takes the form of an invitation to young designers to respond to a brief set by Deyan Sudjic, the Director of the Design Museum. Given that Deyan Sudjic was once a lecturer at one of the CRAVE team’s universities, well, we may be more than a little biased, but the yearly exhibition is yet to fail to deliver. 

This year’s partnership with It’s Nice That is no lesser testament to this, Nicer Tuesdays being a phenomenal project in its own right, but we’ll save waxing lyrical about this oft occurring event in our calendars to tell you more about the four designers speaking at this month’s event. The night itself took the format of a circuit of quick-fire talks and Q and As, with each designer and their chosen guest having only 5 minutes each to draw us in to their interpretation of this year’s topic: Disruption.

The first designer we heard from on the night was Patrick Stevenson-Keating, and there was no slow and easy introduction. Patrick’s work on display in the exhibition tackles the theme of our often passive role within the global financial system. His talk however was on an entirely different interpretation of disruption and launched quickly into his creation of ‘disruptive’ electronic products which essentially piggy-back existing appliances and transform their function and efficiency. The biological and organic parallels of this idea had us hooked immediately. No sooner had we considered the far reaching repercussions of obsolete technology, rendered useless or inefficient in the future by a new race of parasitic gadgets, than it was time to move on to the second designer. 

The unenviable task of following Patrick went to Ilona Gaynor, who’s work was of a completely different nature. Ilona, having once planned a Hollywood-worthy heist at five Los Angeles banks by picking the brains of LAPD Police Academy Students at their local watering hole, talked to us about the the presence of choreographed events in every day life. Her work on display examines disruption in the judicial system, exploiting loop-holes and legal absurdities in an attempt to ‘disrupt the law’. Gaynor considers disruption to be all about “how you can use ingenuity and cunning to attack something from a different perspective.”Ask her about the assassination of Kennedy and you’ll be amazed by her sheer depth of knowledge on the subject, not least of all the detailed documentation and schematic diagrams she’s dug up from the murky bureaucratic depths of the American governmental archives. 

Then it was swiftly on to the next 10 minute segment of the talks, and James Christian, an architectural designer, introduced us to his work on housing models for brownfield sites in London. Drawing heavily on past and failed housing projects which emphasises conformity and impersonal modular housing, James Christian proposes an altogether more colourful future. The central concept of which is that small communities are given the freedom and flexibility to sculpt their own architectural styles, set against the framework of existing but unsuccessful housing models. The result, is technicolour patchwork of personalised and harmonised living. 

Last but not least, Torsten Sherwood, an architect and product designer talked about how this creative process and free-thinking approach could begin at an early age, inspired by the right stimulations. Disrupting conventional building systems is the aim of the game here, and Sherwood does it with some flair having produced a new kind of children’s construction toy which overcomes some of the prescriptive limitations of its building block predecessors. The new concept hinges on the redesign of the individual unit, in the shape of a cardboard disc creatively titled NOOOK, which can be combined in a plethora of different ways. The result is unbounded den making without the imaginative limitations. We see a new generation of architects in the making.