5 important things that happened in design this week

From a new Swedish museum showcasing brands’ biggest “f*ck ups” to the design industry’s fears around Brexit and creative talent, we round up the important news from the last seven days.

The general election ends in a hung parliament

Voters took to the polls yesterday to choose the next UK Government, and this morning sees a surprising result.

While many were expecting a Conservative majority, given prime minister Theresa May’s popularity in opinion polls, the party has actually lost seats, not meeting the 326 MPs necessary to form the next Government on its own. It is now unclear what will happen next.

The Conservatives remains the party with the most MPs, so it is possible it could form a coalition government with another party, such as Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which secured 10 seats. The Conservatives could also form a minority government.

Alternatively, the party that came second – Labour – could form a government with the help of several other parties, such as the Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party (SNP) and The Green Party.

What will the next Government mean for the creative industries? We will be looking at this in more detail once it is determined.

In the meantime, read about what different political parties are promising the creative industries here, and compare their visual campaigns here.

The industry warned of immigration cuts following Brexit

Designers and industry people have previously been anxious about how immigration curbs could result in the loss of creative professionals following Brexit.

According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, non-UK EU nationals currently make up 6% of workers in the creative industries in the UK, although some industries, such as visual effects, see figures as high as 40%.

Dr Julie Nugent, chief executive at the Design and Technology (D&T) Association, has warned that the UK Government will need to invest more in British students’ design skills and education if the UK is to lose EU talent. John Kampfner, chief executive at the Creative Industries Federation, has also scalded the UK’s “outdated immigration system”, which he says judges job worth by salary. Read their reactions in full here.

This week, the Federation’s latest survey revealed that 73% of respondents believe restrictions on freedom of movement will “damage” creative businesses. 250 businesses took the survey.

Brexit’s impact on talent in the UK creative industries will be dependent on the new Government’s rules around immigration.

A focus on talent and skills gaps would most likely favour EU designers, particularly those working in under-resourced areas such as visual animation and user experience (UX) design; but a points-based system, likely to be based on training, academia and income, would no doubt be detrimental to creative workers.

We rounded up this year’s graduate design shows

Every spring, universities and art colleges across the UK begin opening their degree shows, displaying graduates’ work across graphic, UX, product, interior and animation design, alongside other disciplines. As well as an excuse for universities to show off their students’ best work, grad shows can also be an opportunity for students to impress potential employers and land a job.

This week, we put together a comprehensive list of the biggest degree shows going on across England and Scotland in 2017, and a top 10 list of which ones to catch .

Aside from student exhibitions, several universities and art colleges have engaged in politics and educational policy in recent months. Plymouth College of Art spoke out about the cutting of foundation courses, while University of the Arts London (UAL) professor Fred Deakin talked about how education has changed over the last 30 years in an exclusive Design Week interview.

The Barbican opened its blockbuster sci-fi exhibition

The cult of science fiction has seeped into many realms of popular culture since its inception in the 18th century, from genre-defining dystopian literature such as Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, to the more typical, space-centric film interpretations of sci-fi such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

A new exhibition exploring sci-fi opened in London this week, taking over the cavernous, Brutalist enclaves of The Barbican, a bleak, raw setting fitting for the genre.

Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction has been designed by Ab Rogers Design and curated by Swiss historian and writer Patrick Gyger, and is divided into four, chronological sections, spanning the Victorian era to modern day. It contains more than 800 exhibits, from books, manuscripts and three-dimensional models to costumes, props and film clips.

In keeping with the perturbing and unpredictable nature of science fiction, Ab Rogers Design has created a space that aims to induce uneasiness and anxiety in the visitor, by placing exhibits at unnatural heights away from eye-level and using the curved shape of the gallery to “play with perspective”.

This sense of the unknown is similar to the foreboding visitor experience created at Somerset House when it hosted a Stanley Kubrick exhibition last year.

Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction runs from 3 June – 1 September 2017 at the Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS. Tickets range from £5-£14.50. For more information, head to the Barbican’s site.

A new museum opened to explore brands’ biggest “f*ck ups”

Were you aware that toothpaste brand Colgate once launched a frozen lasagne? Or that US president Donald Trump had a board game dedicated to his entrepreneurial days?

The Museum of Failure opened in Sweden this week to document interesting and hilarious ventures that spectacularly flopped. While most of us are aware of the discontinuation of the once-popular original Blackberry smartphone, or the demise of film rental store Blockbuster, this new exhibition space mainly looks to explore brand disasters that never made it off the ground, rather than obsolete prior successes.

The museum has been co-curated by Dr Samuel West and Niklas Madsen, to “liberate” visitors by showing them that even “big brands f*ck up”. “This frees individuals to think: ‘When I try something new, I will most likely fail, and I have none of the resources of these huge companies’,” says West.

The museum features everything from amusing products, such as the aforementioned toothpaste-lasagne and a deceased Blockbuster DVD case, through to more sombre failures such as a replica of a military ship from the 1600s that was too top-heavy, and an exhibit dedicated to ill-conceived brain operation, the lobotomy.

But rather than purely being a display of failings, the museum aims to celebrate and preserve these demised ideas as artefacts; and hopefully inspire future designers and innovators to create things that are better.

“The main point of preserving these artefacts is that we need to accept failure as an essential part of innovation,” says West. “And organisations greatly need to improve their learning from failure.”

The Museum of Failure is now open to the public in a temporary space at Kulturehotellet, Södergatan 15, Helsingborn Sweden. Entry is 100 SEK (£9). The museum is currently looking for a permanent home in the city. For more information, head to the Museum of Failure site.


Got a design story? Get in touch at sarah.dawood@centaurmedia.com.

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