I headed to Shoreditch for the first time in a while yesterday, to the Old Truman Brewery for Goldsmith University’s design exhibition “Matter”. I was severely culture deprived after a month of books and exams and more books and more exams and the event promised innovation in one of the most innovative parts of the world.
The exhibition, neatly arranged in stalls across three floors that reminded me of open day at school when every class chooses from small topics such as “the universe” or “the animal kingdom,” capturing the whole thing in cute dioramas and adorable paper-mâché models. Goldsmith’s version featured just over sixty different design students who are similarly, if not quite as, ambitious as the seven-year-old astronomer.
If I went in expecting something of a small-scale design junction, I could not have been more wrong. Instead of luxurious (and dare I say it rather superfluous) interior design products à la Kelly Hoppen, these kids did not set out to become Dragons’ Den favourites.
…students at Goldsmiths university were inspired by far more abstract concepts…
Instead of suffocating in the mount of technological design by Apple, Microsoft, IBM and them all, or leaving luxury behind to design diamond-studded Rolls-Royce for the über-wealthy, creating the greatest gap between rich and poor the world has ever seen (for more out-of-this-world lavishness see Channel 4’s mini-series on said car company and high-end jewellery designer Boodles), the students at Goldsmiths university were inspired by far more abstract concepts.
One of my favourites was the project “Discrete Acts of Emancipation.” With the objective of – literally – “emptying shelves” the student and fourteen of his mates made their way to Topman on Oxford Street, taking as many shirts as allowed into the changing room, unbuttoning them, returning them to the shop assistant, and repeating this procedure for no less than an hour. “I would guess that she had about twenty minutes of buttoning-up to do by the time we left,” he informs me with a slight grin on his face. Ladies and gentleman, a new era of design has begun!
…changing ways of interacting with humans rather than amalgamating objects…
The exhibition “Matter” is all about not making products, it is about changing the meaning of matter from a material product into a conceptual idea – changing ways of interacting with humans rather than amalgamating objects: several projects deal with the unnatural flow of the city and dissociation between buildings and humans.
The exhibit also explores the danger of technology making us stupid (a forgetful typewriter is among the tech designs), and allowing humans to reconnect with nature (the ‘intertidal cinema’ allows the ocean to become part of your movie-experience).
…it also takes a good sense of humour…
It takes some guts to put up signs around the city saying “This is not supposed to be here” and leaving one’s number just to see what Londoners reply, to introduce an at-home snake venom injector as an elixir of youth (of course!), or indeed to walk into Topman for some shirt un-buttoning and calling these projects your final “design” at university. It also takes a good sense of humour.
And so I spent my evening looking, talking, and laughing with a bunch of young adults that seem set on changing our society not only for the better, but also for the happier.