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Secrets and Lights at the V&A
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As the ‘hub’ of the London Design Festival, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum hosted not only the Wishlist project, but also a series of specially commissioned installations. Perhaps the most impressive of which was Double Space by Jay Osgerby and Edward Barber for BMW.

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With the aim of changing the way visitors experience Raphael’s Cartoons, two vast polished aluminum structures, suspended from the ceiling, slowly rotate creating an ever changing reflection of the artwork around them. Each one measures 15 metres by 9 metres (~49’x30′) and weighs just 15 kilograms (~33lbs) per square metre. “We generally design objects that have a shape, that are to do with how you hold them, or how you use them, so this was a real a departure for us, because we wanted to create an experience, something which is constantly changing which changes the way you perceive the space,” said Jay Osgerby.

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Ama 2014 was lighting designer Michael Anastassiades’s installation for Flos, made from mouth-blown glass and brass, and inspired by the pearl diving ‘mermaids’ of Japan, women who have dived for seaweed, turban shells, and abalone in the sea surrounding the archipelago for thousands of years.

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Fashion design brand David David created this site-specific installation entitled Carousel Wall inspired by Moorish patterns in collaboration with Johnson Tiles. David David co-founder Michael Sawdayee (David is his brother – and the other co-founder) said, “Our previous work has included everything from handbags, umbrellas, and clothing to furniture, art prints, and homewares, but producing work on such a large scale using ceramic tiles has been a challenge. We are proud that it will be viewed by so many people.”

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I loved Broken Mirror by Guillaume Markwalder and Aurélia von Allmen for ECAL – the foil only became taut enough to work as a mirror when you got close enough to use it as one.

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Human Nature is an installation by Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert. Jeremy noticed piles of freshly blown glass cylinders waiting to be flattened into glass panes on a visit to Glashutte Lamberts in Waldsassen, Germany. “I was fascinated by how beautiful and simple they were. I instinctively wanted to create something of them. I saw them as part of something bigger – something beyond a unit in a production line.”

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When V&A ceramicist in residence James Rigler noticed a door in the V&A’s cast of Trajan’s column, he was intrigued to know what was inside – rumors ranged from all the museum’s buckets to illicit goings on.

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He managed to get the door open and permission to allow the public in, and created an installation called Military Secret featuring huge ceramic roses, referencing the security classification “under the rose.”

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Zaha Hadid Architects’ Crest is an investigation into materiality – how thin and how wide can a plate of aluminium be? Once the festival is over, the installation will be removed and installed within the ME Hotel in Dubai, also designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.

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Finally, Candela by Felix de Pass, Ian McIntyre and Michael Montgomery brings light into one of the darkest corners of the V&A. Light levels in Gallery 94 have to be kept very low to protect the medieval tapestries displayed there. “We hope that our installation is a mesmerizing and memorable experience and augments the enjoyment of viewing the tapestries it shares a space with,” said the designers. “We have always found the Tapestries Gallery to be a very peaceful space within the V&A. It felt appropriate to create an installation that worked out of darkness to heighten this special experience.”

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven writer and keynote speaker championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.