The V&A was bursting at the seams with installations for London Design Festival 2012. Here are three of the best – nendo’s Mimicry Chairs, Bench Years from Established & Sons and Ice Angel by Dominic Harris.
nendo’s Mimicry chairs are ghost-like installations throughout the museum that reflect their surroundings. The top image shows a single chair hanging in the main entrance - a reference to the massive Dale Chihuly chandelier hanging in the next space.
Elsewhere in the museum chairs “walk” down stairs or follow the lift traveling up and down between floors.
Similarly chairs cross walkways…
…and mimic exhibits. It was a site specific installation that really was – and it was wonderful to see how the different locations were interpreted.
Next, to celebrate 10 years of the London Design Festival; Established & Sons have commissioned 10 designers to use 10 materials and create 1o benches. These are installed in the John Madejski Garden at the center of the V&A, providing a thought provoking installation for those hot on the design trail and additional seating for unsuspecting V&A visitors.
Martino Gamper (second in from right) designed the infinity bench from thermally modiﬁed American red oak, soft maple, ash, yellow birch and tulipwood supplied by the American Hardwood Export Council. The color is stunning, reminiscent of rusted metal.
Pe de Porco or “pig foot” by Portuguese designer Fernando Brizio celebrates its material – cork oak. The wood is from forests known for the black pigs that live within them, eating the cork oak acorns. The material for this bench was provided by Amorim, also from Portugal.
Next, Western Facade by Jay Osgerby (pictured) & Edward Barber of Barber Osgerby, was inspired by a wall of the V&A that was damaged during the war. The holes let light into the marble showing off its translucent property.
Bench of Plates by AL_A is made of ceramic provided by Cumella, and inspired by the V&A’s vast ceramic collection, the colors of domestic crockery and the idea of repetition of a single motif to create visual complexity. Each element was individually hand made.
An intentionally simple bench, Pier is designed to showcase the “splendor of the mosaic.” Konstantin Grcic worked with Bisazza and was intrigued by both the limitations and the opportunities presented by mosaic, not having worked with the material before.
Alexander Taylor models his Tube bench beautifully here. It was inspired by felled logs, often used a place to sit and rest. He used a mirror polishing technique to achieve the reflective surface and celebrate the material. Alexander Taylor is one of the UK’s leading young designers. Having studied at Nottingham Trent University, he established his own studio in 2002.
This is the development of a bench originally designed by Felix de Pass for Established & Sons in 2011. It gains strength from the folding of the sheet metal; an incredibly simple design process requiring no bespoke tooling. The punched surface disperses heat and allows for the draining of water and the symmetry means it can be approached from any direction.
The final installation is Ice Angel by Dominic Harris. Inspired by snow angels, it creates wings behind each person that stands on the plinth and waves their arms up and down. Each set of wings is unique to the person that made them – the device responds to the person’s proportions and movements and even remembers them and will recreate the same wings if that person returns.
The screen is 2.7m² by 10cm and made of laser cut steel and 6.500 white LEDs behind frosted acrylic. A camera in front of the participant would have been simpler, but Dominic felt it would obscure the audience’s view too much, so instead an overhead camera and some sophisticated coding were used.
The installation demands that you take part and therefore miss your own performance, so the only angel you can’t see is your own.
Dominic Harris says: “Through this curious role reversal, the viewer becomes the subject of a living portrait, with their hidden angel revealed for all to see.”