Super Contemporary, Design Museum, London
One of the consequences of environmentally conscious design is an increased move by designers to think public not just domestic. Super Contemporary, a new exhibition at the Design Museum, has tackled this head-on by commissioning 15 of London’s leading creatives to design something that improves life in the city, inspired by the city.
See more of the design proposals
Some have chosen ubiquitous icons of the cityscape and given them a makeover: David Adjaye has designed a bus stop, Industrial Facility a post box kiosk and Thomas Heatherwick a lamppost ‘chandelier’. Others have created concepts that address perennial London nuisances: Paul Smith has designed a rabbit-shaped litterbin whose ears light up when you chuck in your chewing gum, Paul Cocksedge
has created a rain shield and BarberOsgerby a ‘listening station’.
There are more specific location-based creations too taking some of the city’s landmarks, reinterpreting them to make us see them in a fresh light: Ron Arad has created a film about the Hayward’s Neon Tower, Nigel Coates has created a proposal for the much-attempted reimagining of Battersea Power Station and El Ultimo Grito, together with Urban Salon, have tackled Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.
The 15 commissions are supplemented by a collection of maps showing how various creative communities are spread across the capital: Nick Roope has charted the digital community, B Store have mapped young fashion designers and David Rosen together with Neville Brody have plotted studio locations.
At the very least the collection of 15 proposals, all on display at the Design Museum, show the strength and breadth of London’s home grown creative talent. At best the more practical designs provide realistic, commercially viable, improvements to everyday life in London. What you’re left with is a sense of the sheer number of creatives working to their own agenda and the only thing they all have in common is the identity of their urban umbrella.
As an exhibition, guest curated by the indomitably imaginative Daniel Charny, it serves as an interesting study for designers and visitors alike to reconsider the way we live and negotiate this particular urban environment with the contemporary concerns we face. Real value could now be added not just by manufacturing the more practical creations but by hosting similar exhibitions in other cities around the globe.