What is the one thing that your life is missing? The one thing that could make easy or more pleasant something that is labour intensive, much like the electric iron altered ironing for our grandmothers, or the wheel revolutionalised life for everybody? Perhaps if you’re a big burger fan, it would be a coating on the inside of your ketchup bottle which eases glide and doesn’t waste a single drop. Or maybe you’re a reluctant runner and could do with something to help make those arduous jogging trips a little less tedious…maybe a game where zombies chase you!
Well, these are just two things which are already in existence and make up part of the wondrous Designs of the Year 2013 exhibition at the Design Museum. Contained within there are things you can imagine, and much more besides. Every single object in this show is either brilliant, beautiful, inventive, ground-breaking, iconic, or a combination of all these qualities. The first thing you’ll see as you enter the space is the gorgeously constructed black creation worn by Keira Knightly in the recent Anna Karenina adaptation, designed by Jacqueline Durran. Slightly further along is ‘Kiosk 2.0’, a 3D printing cart which resembles a hot dog kiosk. Where else could you find such contrasting items given equal weight in one display?
Whilst every single entrant is worthy of admiration, there are a few designs which I felt stood out. The artist in me was most swayed by the delicate and subtly stunning hand painted porcelain plates, vases and cups by Scholten & Baijings & 1616 Arita Japan. The child in me loved ‘Zombies, Run!’ by Six to Start and Naomi Alderman, and the surprising critters which sprung forth from the ‘English Hedgerow Plate’ when activated by a tablet computer. However, by far the most moving were the hugely positive products created by fantastic minds in the pursuit of helping those worse off than them, of which there were many.
Nemours and Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware showed odious gun-nuts what the 3D printer should really be used for by designing ‘Exoskeleton ‘Magic Arms’’ which support children with muscular disorders. As each child gets older new bespoke arms can be printed for them to ensure they can grow together. Amazing ‘Child Vision Glasses’, designed by the Centre for Vision in the Developing World and Goodwin Hartshorn, utilise readily available water to set the prescription for each individual. These can also be altered to fit the needs of each child as their eyesight alters with age. The product category winner makes use of the empty space in Coca Cola crates and the formidable soft-drink supply chain to dispense diarrhea medical aid pods to children in remote locations. These are the real reason we need design, for truly life-altering solutions.
Make the visit and contrast these brand-new cutting edge designs with the currently showing permanent collection items on the floor above. This is an eye-opener in just how quickly designs, products, clothes and architecture evolve, and how swiftly the newest of the new become outdated. Be prepared for a lot of debate (perhaps about the overall winner?) and a warm feeling of pride at being human when you leave.
On display until 7th July 2013.