Deyan Sudjic has been considered for inclusion in the Hot 50 listing because of his directorship of the Design Museum since 2006. Until now, the assessors have felt it was too early to honour his achievements, given a decision to move the museum – set up by Sir Terence Conran – from its premises in London Docklands to a bigger home was in the offing.
The museum has now set its sights on the Parabola, the former Commonwealth Institute building in London’s Kensington, though we don’t yet know if and when the museum will move. The question now is who Sudjic – a celebrated architectural pundit with top-flight international connections in the profession – and the board of trustees will choose to create the museum within the building, an architectural gem.
Sudjic has, meanwhile, achieved great things in his time at the museum. He has smartened up the programme to include more than one blockbuster at a time – at the start of the year we had Design Cities, which he curated, running alongside smaller shows of Rosenthal ceramics by Spanish-born designer Patricia Urquiola and psychedelic graphics by Alan Aldridge. Like all his shows to date, these are supported by talks, books and other sideshows.
Sudjic has maintained his role as a design commentator throughout all this, not least with his latest book The Language of Objects from Penguin Books imprint Allen Lane, bringing intellectual rigour to design. He has brought together the skills he gained as former editor of Italian journal Domus and other titles, as director of the Glasgow 1999: City of Architecture and Design Festival, and as Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Kingston University, and applied them all at the museum.
Tate Liverpool entered 2008 on a high note, having just hosted the first Turner Prize ceremony to have taken place outside of London since the award’s inception in 1984. Twelve months, and 60 000 visitors later, it’s clear that the 2008 European Capital of Culture’s star attraction is going from strength to strength.
The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the Gustav Klimt exhibition. Branded to perfection by True North, which picked up a Design Week Benchmark award for best design in the Public Sector category, the exhibition’s identity of thick, golden Tate typography embellished with Klimt-inspired ornamentation was joyously reproduced over posters, exhibition catalogues, T-shirts, and even some of the city’s post boxes. The campaign was imaginative, yet faithful to the Tate brand, and contributed to Tate winning a Benchmark award for Client of the Year.
Tate Media, headed by director Will Gompertz, also produced a striking innovation for the Klimt show, in the form of an interactive online tour (the first of its kind in the UK) that was accessible via Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices. Visitors could download the software to their own iPods or rent a device from the gallery for a nominal fee. The tours increased visit times from 45 minutes to three hours, a telling measure of Tate Liverpool’s success in captivating, inspiring and understanding its public.
If there was ever an ambassador for sustainable design, Sophie Thomas would be it. Her passion and commitment to the cause of Green design earns her a place in this year’s Hot 50. She is director and joint owner – with Kristine Matthews – of Thomas Matthews London, which maintains a sustainable philosophy
Thomas has featured in the Hot 50 before, through her involvement in environmental online helpline Three Trees Don’t Make a Forest with Airside director Nat Hunter and Caroline Clark, founder of Lovely as a Tree.
Her solo appearance this year is largely on the strength of her personal involvement in Greengaged, an event hosted by the Design Council in 2008 as part of the London Design Festival.
The seven-day festival was the brainchild of Thomas, along with Sarah Johnson at Re Design, and Anne Chick from Kingston University’s Sustainable Design Research Centre, with support from Arup and Three Trees Don’t Make A Forest. It included stimulating talks and debate on how to embed sustainable design in the industry.
Over the past ten years, communications designer Thomas has delivered a vast array of projects across the world. Thomas Matthews’ clients include Friends of the Earth, for which it created the highly acclaimed No Shop campaign in 1997, for example, and the more recent ‘What comes around goes around’ project – a campaign and installation devised to get Royal College of Art staff and students to recycle.
Thomas continually strives to practise sustainable principles in design, and in life. Because of the efforts of people like her, sustainability is becoming more than just a buzzword.
Victoria Thornton is one of those tireless champions who make a real difference in the creative arena. In her case, it is largely architecture that she has brought into the public domain through her efforts over many years.
As founder of the charity London Open House, Thornton has persuaded building owners to open their doors to the public for a weekend each September to demystify architecture and to enable ordinary folk to experience some of the best. She has also worked with school groups, among others, to open the minds of the next generation to the joys of architecture.
Thornton was at one time director of the Royal Institute of British Architects. In that guise she organised projects, not least with Design Week, that brought architects and designers of all disciplines together to look at urban issues, among other things.
Through her company Architectural Dialogue, set up 26 years ago, she has organised events to open up architecture to potential clients and the public, with architect ‘guides’ offering their expert knowledge.
United Visual Arts:
If you ventured into London’s Covent Garden over Christmas, you may have come face to face with a large scale interactive installation. Far from being a galactic space time capsule from the set of Doctor Who, it was the work of the interdisciplinary consultancy United Visual Arts.
During the electronic music revolution of 2003, a trio from altogether different backgrounds – software developer Ash Nehru, production guru Chris Bird and graphic designer Matt Clark – founded UVA . Their first large-scale collaboration was the design of Massive Attack’s 100th Window world tour.
The consultancy has since gone on to bigger and better things. It worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2006 on Volume, a responsive light/sound installation set up in the museum’s John Madejski Garden, which responded to human movement with changes in sound and light.
Last year, UVA raised its profile. Meltdown curator Massive Attack invited it to play a visual role in the festival, and also mark the group’s world tour. UVA became more mainstream, working on the HSBC Yan Shu Commission at Heathrow Terminal 5 to mark the China Design Now exhibition at the V&A.
UVA’s impressive CV looks set to grow, with more commissions and opportunities in place for 2009 and beyond. Watch this space… literally.