Cutting Edge: Graduate Design
4 October - 18 November
Curated by graduates of the V&A/RCA Course in History of Design and members of the Fig.9 collective, this exhibition displays the range of experimentation and ambition in the contemporary London design scene. Hand-picked from London’s best colleges - the Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths, Central Saint Martin’s and Camberwell - our designers navigate through different types of design, from slashed furniture to haunting graphics and jewellery, including more process-based works that explore time and materiality. Our exhibitors are detailed below.
Sustainability is at the core of current design research. Heralded at the Milan Salone 2012, and about to feature in Wired, The Polyfloss Factory is an upcycled candyfloss machine turned into a device for converting plastics to a new medium. During Cutting Edge, Polyfloss will be using waste plastics from Orleans House Gallery to demonstrate the machine.
Sustainability is also at the heart of Central St Martin’s graduate Young Ju Do’s project Compostable Jewellery, recently featured in Crafts magazine, which uses waste food to create unique, edible and biodegradable jewellery. RCA architect Emma Elston’s project Fast Food Farm addresses the needs of the city, presenting a project that integrates urban farming within London’s transport system.
The exhibition shows that making is still at the heart of design. Anton Alvarez’s Thread Wrapping Machine was a highlight of 2012’s RCA Design Products exhibition and was featured in Wallpaper magazine. The electrically-powered machine spins and tightly wraps gluecoated threads around wooden parts, creating new configurations without the need for jointing.
Emile de Visscher, winner of the James Dyson Bursary at the RCA presents Pearling, a machine designed to coat objects with artificial mother-of-pearl to give them extra strength. Through this process, Emile offers us the possibility to endow our personal belongings with a value that is both physical and metaphorical.
Materials are the skin and bones of design. Highly acclaimed in Velour and Elle Decoration, furniture designer Charlotte Kingsnorth has created an innovative sofa, slashed down the middle. Developed through experiments in leather and foam, Slashed explores the contrasts between inner depth and outer skin.
Camille Flammarion’s striking ceramic Modules are multi-purpose objects that can be rearranged to become stools, containers or simply beautiful decorative pieces.
Gaspard Tine-Beres Lasso Shoes use a single piece of felt to construct a perfect shoe design, astutely moving from 2D to 3D. RCA textiles graduate Tania Grace-Knuckey presents three chairs, ‘dressed’ in a spectrum of textiles such as punched leather, prints and woven embroidery.
Objects are not always what they seem at first glance and designers like to play with our perceptions. Helena Karelson’s Lost Leather Cutlery are bronze casts that retain the impression of softness and tactility particular to leather. Each piece of cutlery is cut and folded in leather before being transformed into a functional fork, knife or spoon.
Recently commissioned for Fendi, Petter Thorne’s Silver Bowls are also cast from leather. Remarkably delicate, they appear to have no weight, seeming to float on the surface of the table, while retaining the strength of silver.
Another display that challenges our perceptions is the series Empathology created by Central St Martin’s graduate Erika Renedo Illaregi. Erika was inspired by psychological readings on diversity to create a range of homeware which does not conform to our expectations. These surprising, surreal and puzzling pieces present new possible interactions between user and object.
Previously unseen and created for Cutting Edge, Alicja Pytlewska’s Liminal Object 1.0 is an interactive play surface that re-thinks children’s traditional wooden blocks. Inspired by the magic and enchantment of child play, this piece responds to the user’s actions through sound.
Not only is the creative process a narrative in itself, objects can be story-tellers. Camberwell MA graduate Ryan Humphrey’s illustrations combine macabre fantasy with surreal fairy tales, which are inspired by existing imagery. Ryan describes his work as ‘painting with pencils,’ and his images are created in an ‘alchemical and tentative process’ where he likes to leave the viewer room to speculate upon their narrative.
Working in technicolour textiles, RCA graduate Ying Wu depicts fantastical visions of possible post-industrial futures. Prints such as The End of the Age of Turtles considers a future where humans inhabit turtle shells, depicted in shattering bright colours and forms. Inspired by the diversity and playfulness of natural patterns, Simone Perrotte’s ceramics and textile range Dinner from the Seabed captures the atmosphere of submarine life.
Recent artist-in-residence at the Corning Museum of Glass and recent PhD graduate from the RCA, Min Jeong Song creates ambiguous glass works which appear to have no particular function but trigger debate about the frictions between east Asia and the western world.
Designers Dan McMahon and Zoe Tynan-Campbell have both worked on creating home products that suggest playful narratives. Dan’s Captain Hook Lamp is off when hooked to a shelf, to turn it on, just pick it up and a custom made sliding magnet organically switches it on. Zoe’s Hasbeens are upcycled parts of furniture given a new life as children’s toys.
RCA graduates Julie Usel, Imme van der Haak and Evelie Mouila all explore bodily responses to objects through jewellery, performance and photography. Evelie’s jewellery highlights the lines of the body, the striking result of which is enhanced through photography. Julie’s range of jewellery and prints explore the emotional anxiety that surrounds making. Imme’s Beyond the Body project explores our perceptions of the ageing body. Photos of the human body are printed onto translucent silk, and worn by dancers in a performance that questions identity. Her range of unusual jewellery restructures the face and our expectations of beauty.
The eyewear created by RCA graduate Emma Montague has been causing a stir in Vogue IT, among others. Constructed from acetate and deer jaw bones, the glasses create a visual connection between the exposed animal material and our own hidden structures.
This exhibition is no ordinary design shop, but a workshop of ideas to inspire a range of people, from the expert maker to the public.
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