London Design Festival: The V&A

For nine days London Design Festival takes residence at the V&A, saving its big name commissions for the venue.

Fresh from winning a £35m V&A Exhibition Road entrance commission, Amanda Levete has designed another extension – temporary this time – as a gateway to LDF.

Amanda Levete

Her Timber Wave frames the Museum’s Grand Entrance, greeting with a  graceful fluidity which gives way to a course industrial feel as you pass through it.

Levete – founder of AL_A – has worked with timber specialists from Arup to engineer the 12m wide red oak sculpture which uses thin hardwood lamination techniques usually found in furniture making.

Take the tunnel entrance into the V&A to find design group Beta Tank’s Scaffolding Brut – scaffold made from porcelain and constructed with flourishes like porcelain radios, bird boxes and vases sprouting from poles.

Beta Tank believes that as a ubiquitous product designed for utility, scaffolding has the potential to take on an aesthetic quality.

In The Raphael Court, look out for Textile Field, which by nature of its incongruous title, sounds like it offers all the practicality of a museum made of grass and mud.

The result of a link up between the esteemed Bouroullec brothers and Danish textile company Kvadrat, the piece is an intervention designed to change the way visitors interact with Raphael’s Cartoons.

When we look around the room around 50 people are on the installation and less than 15 are standing, so Design Week kicks off its shoes and jumps on.

As an object it’s awkward, pervasive and physically obstructive, but this is a gallery built in 1865 – Raphael’s time – which has offered quite a linear viewing perspective.    As a tool the piece is convivial, disarming and has the ability to change perspectives. No one has ever observed a Raphael on their back, side or stomach before.

3D printing – which we can safely says has made its mark on every design discipline – is celebrated at eight points around the museum where gallerist and curator Murray Moss has worked with designers Materialise to ‘print’ pieces which reference V&A exhibits.

Belgian based Materialise use laser and digital technologies to print 3D objects – once the preserve of prototyping types.

The display shows sturdy, beautiful and practical examples including Fractal MGX table by Platform Studio and Mathias Bar. Created from a single piece of resin,  it is based on growth patterns seen in nature which have been interpreted digitally as mathematical algorithms.

The Power of Making, which will run beyond LDF to January, is already looking like a hit. It was one in one out when we approached.

 E-Shoe (high-heeled shoe guitar), Chicks on Speed

Source: © Chicks on Speed

E-Shoe (high-heeled shoe guitar), Chicks on Speed

Go though. Inside it’s packed floor to ceiling with inspiring made and crafted objects, selected by the V&A with the Crafts Council – seemingly omnipresent at this year’s LDF.

Alphabet , Dalton Ghetti

Source: Sloan T. Howard Photography

Alphabet , Dalton Ghetti

Effectively an emporium of made objects, they tell the story of a resurgence in making through over 100 crafted objects.

Crochetdermy bear, Shauna Richardson

Source: © Shauna Richardson

Crochetdermy bear, Shauna Richardson

Find playable guitar shoes as used by art rockers Chicks on Speed, Michael Rea’s Prosthetic suit for Steven Hawking with Japanese Steel – an object which could turn physicist into supervillan – Thomas Heatherwick’s spun metal chair, and a life-sized crochet bear – which is rapidly becoming the face of the exhibition.

Highlighting the ancient and contemporary, this is an inspiring celebration of the enduring relevance of painstaking skill and inventiveness.

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