Thursday, July 23, 2009

Designing the Future. Today

It gave me great pleasure to go to the New Designers show at the Islington Business Design Centre last weekend. The first reason was that my brother Ollie was one of these talented young designers, representing Bournemouth U with his green, clean, practical one-cup kettle/dispenser. (Essentially you fill it with water, put it onto the mug, then once it's boiled, it dispenses the water into the mug. Simple.)

The other was that I got to discover countless other young talents too in furniture, products and visual communications. These are the people who are designing our future, with many focusing on environmentally friendly design and reinterpreting modern classics. There were perhaps too many Alvar Aalto updates (yes, blond wood, we get it) but there were also bold developments.

One of my favourite pieces was by Harry Hasson, who has designed bookshelves which are self-assembly but bear no resemblance to anything from IKEA: they are sleek black shelves, and an orange ratchet circulates around the outside, holding it together with its tension.

The other piece which I thought had the longest (design) legs was a freestanding wardrobe by Olayinka Ilori. Inspired by the showcases of luxury clothes stores, the deep blue case opens towards you to reveal shallow ranks of hangers (in the doors too). Two compartments below each door glide out, and the experience makes getting dressed (I would imagine) feel more elegant.

The role of patronage (as investigated on a grander scale in this post-Basel Hedgehog) has an even more significant role at New Designers: these are people - by and large - who are at the very commencement of their careers, and any boost which can be given in the forms of money, advice and attention (three principal planks of patronage) is likely to have a far greater effect than for established artists and designers.

I am not exactly in the patronising league (yes, very funny), but I am enjoying watching these young designers and - when my racheted bookshelves are ready - supporting them too.

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