Mexican pavilion: You Know You Cannot See Yourself So Well as by Reflection by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo
For those who have visited the V & A museum during the London design festival previously would know that ‘seeking’ the design installations within the maze-like museum could be rewarding and frustrating at the same time. Navigating the museum with a simplified map while renovation work is taking place proved to be fairly challenging, though you could view it as part of the fun.
Zotem by Kim Thomé with Swarovski
This year, eight major installations were created by designers and artists from different disciplines and nationalities scattered around the museum. One of the most conspicuous installations was ‘Zotem’, an 18-metre-tall double-sided monolith embedded with over-sized Swarovski crystals, which rose vertically from the entrance to the Ceramics gallery directly above it, on the sixth floor. Designed by London-based Norwegian designer Kim Thomé in collaboration with Swarovski, the installation resembles a 19th century animation device and it encouraged visitors to look upwards as they walked into the building.
Barnaby Barford’s The Tower of Babel
In the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, artist Barnaby Barford‘s six metre high sculptural installation ‘The Tower of Babel’ (on display until 1st Nov) utterly captured visitors’ imagination. The Tower comprises 3000 bone china shops, each one unique, each depicting a real London shop photographed by the artist. At its base the shops are derelict, while at its pinnacle are the crème-de-la-crème of London’s exclusive boutiques and galleries. Each shop is for sale during the period of its exhibition at the Museum, with prices rising as the Tower ascends, the installation confronts us with the choices we make as consumers, through necessity or desire.
Laetitia de Allegri and Matteo Fogale’s Mise-en-abyme
The Ogham Wall by Grafton Architects
Mischer’traxler’s Curiosity Cloud
One of my favourite installations at the event was ‘Curiosity Cloud’ in the Norfolk House Music Room designed by Austrian design duo mischer’traxler. I met and spoke to Thomas Traxler at DMY (Berlin Design Festival) back in 2009, and I am happy that they have continued to create experimental and inspiring works since then.
Inspired by the Art Nouveau movement, the duo collaborated with champagne house Perrier-Jouët to create an installation comprises 250 mouth-blown glass globes made by the Viennese glass company Lobmeyr. Each globe contained a single hand-fabricated (moving) insect and 25 insect species were represented, falling into three categories: extinct, common, and newly discovered. The encapsulated emitted trilling noises as they collided with the glass, thus creating an immersive experience for the visitors. There was a definitely a ‘wow’ factor as visitors entered the room, and it captured mankind’s fascination with nature in an enchanting way.
Faye Toogood’s The Cloakroom
A rather fun installation was The Cloakroom created by British designerFaye Toogood. Visitors were invited to wear one of her 150 coats around the Museum in search of her sculptural installations. Each coat was equipped with a sewn-in map that guided the visitor, where they discovered a series of sculptural garments created by Toogood in response to nearby objects from the Museum’s collection.
Top: Robin Day’s work in wood; Bottom right: Amy Hughes’ ceramics
The museum also paid tribute to Robin Day, one of the most significant British furniture designers of the 20th century. The exhibition, curated by Jane Withers and designed by Turner Prize nominees Assemble explored Day’s innovative use of wood in his professional practice together with objects made for the family home and writings that reveal his deep attachment to nature and strong environmental concerns.