The first of our Autumn Member Events, hosted in the brand new Library Space at neighbouring Shoreditch House, took place on 25th September and focused on the practice of design.
Last night in Shoreditch House’s new fifth floor Library Space; four practitioners with very different relationships with design shared insights into their respective fields; engaging a mix of YCN and Soho House members.
Opening the event was design writer and curator, and deputy director of London Design Festival Max Fraser. He began by briefly detailing the writing process of his books: Design UK, Boek, OFFECCT Voices, and Designers on Design, co-authored with Sir Terence Conran. “Writing a book is a gruelling process,” Max explained, before reflecting on problems within the publishing industry and the advantages of self-published work.
Above: Max Fraser.
Going on to discuss the London Design Festival, Max showcased past installations including Tom Dixon’s Great Chair Grab of 2006, Jaime Hayon’s 2009 centerpiece Giant Chess, and 2011’s Timber Wave by award-winning architects AL_A and engineering firm Arup.
“We like to put design into the path of people who don’t usually encounter it,” said Max, speaking with increasing pride as he discussed highlights of this year’s recently concluded festival, most impressive of which were a 30 metre long chandelier designed by Canadian lightning company Bocci that stretches throughout each floor of the V&A, and the M.C. Escher-inspired Endless Stair, an installation constructed from 44 cubic tons of American tulipwood which sits boldly outside the Tate Modern until October 10th.
Above: Endless Stair, taken from a slide from Max's presentation.
Concluding his talk, Max fielded questions on the imbalance and exploitation of product designers, grassroots design and growth, and the cultivation of design communities.
Following Max was artist and designer Dominic Wilcox. A graduate of Ron Arad’s Design Products course at the Royal College of Art, Dominic takes mundane but deceptively simple problems and highlights them from a wry perspective. He shared drawings from his popular Variations on Normal blog; including inflated sock lights, GPS shoes, watch sculptures, a tree branch work desk and other gems.
Above: Dominic Wilcox.
Dominic quoted Leonard Cohen when talking about his creative inspirations: “If I knew where songs came from I’d go there more often".
Dominic described some projects in more detail, including War Bowl - an object that is still selling after ten years, and his 24 carat gold leafed skimming stones which twists the idea of something truly valuable.
Dominic closed with comments about Twitter, and a video of a project born through Twitter’s facilitation of idea sharing. Wilcox vs 3D Printer saw Dominic race against a 3D printer at the V&A in an effort to construct a model of St. Paul’s Cathedral in just 45 minutes. Dominic produced his model from marzipan and somehow still won the contest.
Closing the evening was Kirsty Carter and Emma Thomas, founders of design agency A Practice For Everyday Life. Kirsty and Emma met at the Royal College of Art and went on to found their design agency in 2003.
The duo discussed their treatment and design of the Hepworth Wakefield, and working with architect David Chipperfield. Hepworth Wakefield showcases work from the city’s art collection, exhibitions by contemporary artists and rarely seen works by sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth.
Above: Emma Thomas and Kirsty Carter.
Detailing their involvement in the building’s architecture and identity, Kirsty and Emma briefly elaborated on their bespoke typeface design, created solely for the project. They state that signage is often an afterthought, but that at the Hepworth Wakefield they wanted this to be an integral part of the project, and so made the decision that the building would contain no signs, and instead information would be carved into the building itself.
Above: The Hepworth typeface, taken from a slide from Kirsty and Emma's presentation.
Following their talk, the pair responded to questions on their working preferences, and their hesitance to accept too many similar projects in a row.
We would like to thank Max, Dominic, Kirsty and Emma for their insights, and all who attended.
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Location:Shoreditch House Library,
London, E1 6AW,
Start:25th September, 2013 at 7:00pm
End:25th September, 2013 at 9:00pm