Behind the V&A Cold War exhibition

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London has unveiled the first details of its £750 000 Cold War Modern design show later this year. It will be crea ted by Universal Design Studio.

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London has unveiled the first details of its £750 000 Cold War Modern design show later this year. It will be crea ted by Universal Design Studio.


The V&A appointed Universal Design Studio following a paid pitch involving three other groups, to create the 1850m2 show across three galleries. Cold War Modern: Design 1945-1970 will try to show how the era influenced popular culture through graphics, fashion, film and product design. Cultural Innovations is project managing the design aspect of the exhibition, having been appointed by the V&A in 2006 to complete several large temporary exhibitions.


CI is currently collaborating with Land Design Studio on the V&A’s International Baroque show, scheduled to open in February 2009, and expects to appoint a design consultancy to work on the Maharajas exhibition taking place next autumn.


The Cold War exhibition will see more than 300 items arranged in seven main sections, including Anxiety and Hope in the After math of War, and Conscription of the Arts, which describes how designers and artists were drawn into the Cold War. The Space Odysseys section will look at the relationship between design and film, focusing on the work of Stanley Kubrick and production designer Ken Adam. ‘Each section inspired us differently – Ken Adam’s monumental cinematic visions, with their bunker-like spaces and incredible lighting, inspired the feel of the Space Odysseys section,’ says Universal Design Studio associate Brian Studak.


Also on display will be furniture such as Eero Aarnio’s Globe chair, Hungarian designer Peter Ghyczy’s Garden Egg chair and clothing by designers including Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne.


CI director of project management Mike Cook notes that, ‘Because Universal Design Studio is predominantly a retail design group, it has tremendous awareness of how to display objects, much more so than some architects.’


‘Retail designers are used to working as part of a wider team, unlike some architects, who are used to being the sole creative on a project,’ he adds. ‘With a [lead] museum project, the creative visionary is often the curator, so you need a team player.’


Universal Design Studio says that it is working closely with the V&A’s design and curatorial teams on the exhibition.


‘We were given a very detailed brief, and are being guided well by the show’s two curators, Jane Pavitt and Jana Scholze,’ says Studak.


‘We are working with them to develop ideas, which we are putting together into an architectural proposition. We are following the Royal Institute of British Architects work stages, making presentations to the V&A at every stage for comments and approval.’


Cold War Modern: Design 1945-1970 will run from 25 September to 11 January 2009.


COLD WAR MODERN: DESIGN 1945-1970
The 300 objects on display will include:
• Military-turned-civilian vehicles such as the Vespa scooter and Messerschmidt micro-car
• P70 Coupé, an early model of the Trabant plastic-bodied car
• Models of public monuments by Eduardo Paolozzi, Naum Gabo and Reg Butler
• Eero Aarnio’s Globe chair
• Peter Ghyczy’s Garden Egg chair

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