Fear and love: the Design Museum taps a fractious design landscape

The new Design Museum’s inaugural exhibitions
‘Fear and Love – Reactions to a complex world’ is one of the new Design Museum’s inaugural exhibitions.
(Image credit: Luke Hayes)

‘Fear and Love – Reactions to a complex world’ is one of the new Design Museum's inaugural exhibitions. Herein, chief curator Justin McGuirk has invited 11 leading designers to respond to the open brief of creating an installation to open debate about how we approach and interpret design today.

Harking back to the first exhibition held by the Design Museum in 1989 – titled ‘Commerce and Culture’ – McGuirk sees a change from the value we once placed on industrial products, now taken for granted in the UK, where it's easy to forget that every single manmade object has an origin and a designer.

Picture of a flower

Still from 'Room Tone' by Hussein Chalayan. Courtesy of Hussein Chalayan and Intel

(Image credit: Hussein Chalayan and Intel)

Today, society is defined by a feeling of uncertainty towards the future, as shown in designer Madeline Gannon’s jerking robot arm, Mimus, which detects movement in the gallery with a certain aggression. Hussein Chalayan’s wearable devices project out hidden emotions, exploring increasing cases of anxiety in a society perhaps driven by these behaviour-obsessed devices themselves; while architect Andrés Jaque’s Intimate Strangers examines how network culture is changing our relationship to our bodies and our partners. Perhaps all technology is created around a central fear that we will never find love.

From self-love to selflessness, several projects take an outward-looking approach to design. Arquitectura Expandida, an activist architecture collective, has created Potocinema, an installation showing a series of videos by young people in a school which they built in the poorest part of Bogota. Abstract design collective Metahaven advocates the marine wildlife conservation group Sea Shepherd via a video work; and clothing designer Ma Ke, rejecting the detrimental ‘fast fashion’ tag, displays clothes which have an ethical approach to the land and rural traditions in China.

Inside Arquitectura Expandida’s ’Potocinema’ installation visitors

Inside Arquitectura Expandida’s 'Potocinema' installation visitors can watch videos (pictured, film still) which have been made by young people in response to ‘fear’ and ‘love’ in their community

(Image credit: designmuseum.org)

In response to Brexit, OMA has designed a living room filled with objects from the 28 EU member states, suggesting how domestic life has been formed through EU trade, highlighting the fact that, despite our all-consuming desire to be connected, it is clear that we are in fact more disconnected than ever.

The installations demonstrate the increasing polarisation of inward-looking and outward-looking perspectives (selfish vs selfless), the plethora of confusing meanings of the word ‘social’ (social network vs social activist) and an increasing obsession with reading and communicating our emotions. The exhibition opens up questions about how design could be destroying our lives, from increasing pollution in China to perpetuating self-love. The new Design Museum has tapped into these two contemporary emotions and their uneasy juxtaposition.

Fibre Market by Dutch product designer Christien Meindertsma

Fibre Market by Dutch product designer Christien Meindertsma explores the lack of recycling culture in the textiles industry, examining the life of products and use of raw materials.

(Image credit: Luke Hayes)

Fashion designer Hussein Chalayan’s installation, Room Tone

Fashion designer Hussein Chalayan’s installation, Room Tone, is a series of wearable devices which detect emotions and project them out, exposing daily anxieties connected to urban 21st century living.

(Image credit: Luke Hayes)

Andrés Jaque’s audio-visual installation Intimate Strangers tells a series of stories about dating apps

Andrés Jaque’s audio-visual installation Intimate Strangers tells a series of stories about dating apps and how we look for sex and love through social media. Courtesy of Office For Political Innovation

(Image credit: Office For Political Innovation)

The Pan-European Living Room

Responding to Brexit, OMA/AMO created The Pan-European Living Room. The installation was furnished with design from each of the 28 European Union member states, showing how domestic life is centred around co-operation and trade between EU countries

(Image credit: Luke Hayes)

Graphic collective Metahaven contributed a short film on marine wildlife

Graphic collective Metahaven contributed a short film on marine wildlife conservation group Sea Shepherd to the exhibition. Love Letter to Sea Shepherd advocates the organisation’s activities and is presented alongside a series of graphic flags. Courtesy of Metahaven

(Image credit: Metahaven)

Rejecting the detrimental ‘fast fashion’ tag

Rejecting the detrimental ‘fast fashion’ tag, Chinese clothing designer Ma Ke makes clothes with an ethical approach

(Image credit: designmuseum.org)

Madeline Gannon’s jerking robot arm

adeline Gannon’s jerking robot arm, Mimus, detects movement in the gallery with a certain aggression

(Image credit: designmuseum.org)

Installation shows how to adapt the traditional yurt into a structure for communal life

Rural Urban Framework, a research and design think tank based at the University of Hong Kong, was set up by Joshua Bolchover and John Lin to provide design services to charities and NGOs. Their installation shows how to adapt the traditional yurt into a structure for communal life

(Image credit: designmuseum.org)

A replica of a school built in one of the most disadvantaged communities of Bogata

Architecture collective Arquitectura Expandida has created the installation Potocinema, a replica of a school built in one of the most disadvantaged communities of Bogata

(Image credit: Harold Guyaux and Arquitectura Expandida)

INFORMATION
‘Fear and Love – Reactions to a complex world’ is on view until 23 April 2017. For more information, visit the Design Museum website (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

Design Museum
224–238 Kensington High Street
London W8 6AG

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