Entries in Design (3)
On Monday 5th of September, the Camper yacht made her European debut in London, brightening up the river Thames with sails specially designed by design agency Farrow. The Camper boat will sail around the world, from Alicante to Galway, in the Volvo-Ocean Race (formerly known as the Whitbread Round the World Race).
“The project came about because we received an email out of the blue from Camper just over a year ago,” says Mark Farrow of the project. "It was obviously exciting, but they were asking three different design agencies to come up with ideas. We were instantly like, well, we don't pitch, it's just not something that we do. They then said – and I suppose it's an obvious line – 'don't think of it as a pitch but more like Camper trying to find a kindred spirit to work with - and we'll pay you for your ideas.”
Farrow’s early ideas were for simple, bold graphics, playing with patterns and even a Jolly Roger skull and crossbones. However, as Mark Farrow notes, many of their ideas would not have worked in reality, but "what we're saying is this is the way we think, this is how we could potentially have fun with this."
This experimental and playful approach, and seeking to evoke a nautical feel through their designs, resulted in Farrow finding a new slant on the Camper logo: "We did have a bit of Eureka moment when we realised that Camper's logo is actually shaped like a sail. And if you turn it upside down, make it blue and repeat it horizontally, you get waves. Air and water, everything we need, are built into the logo without even doing anything."
A lot of Farrow’s initial designs were predominantly blue in colour, but as Camper pointed out, the design would disappear while in the sea - and so they opted for a striking red. During their first presentation to Camper, Farrow’s Gary Stillwell remembers that “we were treating the project very much with our idea of yachting, which was a nice day out on the sea. We hadn't got to grips with the technicalities of it or got to grips with what this race actually involves. So it was only after this that we really understood that it was an extreme sport. So an initial design with coloured beach balls adorning the sails looks pretty funny in retrospect!”
What’s really brilliant about this project is that Farrow were given outright freedom with their designs and emerged with some genuinely interesting and unusual outcomes. Many designers often feel under pressure to deliver slick, commercial results, and often more creative and playful ideas are discarded before they are explored. As a designer, is it often worth asking whether the project you’re working on is inspiring you, and if not, a little experimentation with a different angle can change the direction of the whole project.
Take a look at Mark Farrow talking about the project himself:
We at FIELL know the guys at Farrow as they designed our identity right at the inception of our company. The spine and cover were used to create a 3 dimensional form, and the linear markings represent stacks of paper.
Posted by Kristina
On a recent trip to Berlin I visited the magnificient Museum der Dinge and Werkbundarchiv - this unique museum and archive is home to thousands of fascinating objects, examples of modern day 'things' as well as objects collected and curated with the intention of showcasing badly designed kitsch 'fancy goods', which are then displayed in parallel with the beautifully designed and expertly crafted objects of the Deutscher Werkbund.
The Deutscher Werkbund was founded in 1907 with the objective of balancing new industrial mass production methods with the craftmanship and quality that defines a well designed product. The ease and cheapness of mass production meant that many corners were being cut and reproductions being made. Wood veneer and faux tortoiseshell featured heavily in the museum to illustrate this point (as well as a memorably hideous reproduction-baroque wood veneer bench covered in cupids which, unfortunately, I can't find an image of).
In 1909, art historian and museum director Gustav E. Pazaurek opened up a “Cabinet of Bad Taste” in the Stuttgart State Crafts Museum. Pazaurek was a strong advocate of the Werkbund aesthetic, and he collected over 900 objects of such astounding ugliness that they highlighted the need for guidelines for what is "good" and what is "bad".
Although his Cabinet of Bad Taste was put into storage in 1933, the Museum der Dinge dug it all out and they now display what can only be described as a smorgasbord of tat. In Stephen Bayley's wonderful upcoming book for FIELL, "Ugly: The Aesthetics of Everything", he talks about Pazaurek's bad taste manifesto, on which he based his collection:
"Pazaurek had established a systematic checklist to describe aesthetic crimes. Although his views were inevitably formed by very different circumstances (in the Germany of 1909 the proto-Modernism of the Deustcher Werkbund was tussling, not always successfully, with a democratic preference for Jodelstil), officials at the Museum der Dinge found that the 1909 checklist remains curiously relevant as a test for taste.
Pazaurek determined that there were five categories of errors that could lead to ugliness: Material Mistakes, Design Mistakes, Decorative Mistakes, Kitsch Mistakes and Contemporary Mistakes.
Among all reformers of consumer consciousness and art education, Bauhaus included, Pazaurek’s Principles have never been surpassed for their detail and thoroughness."
Founders of the Werkbund included such design bigwigs as Peter Behrens, Bruno Paul, and Josef Maria Olbrich. Prioritising function over form, the members of the Werkbund wanted to promote a utilitarian aesthetic that they saw as beneficial to both designers and society, and which would ease the transition from small workshop-type craftmanship to mass production. After the First World War, there was a need for consumer products that had to be met cheaply and quickly. To reconcile this need with their principles of good design, and to simplify the process, the Werkbund set out to standardise design, to make it more utilitarian, and less decoratively frou-frou.
In 1924, the Werkbund published "Form ohne Ornament (Form Without Ornament)", a sort of guide to Functionalism, and the beauty of the undecorated surface. The Werkbund was fraught with tension between two factions, those who promoted the new Functionalism and mass production, and those (including Walter Gropius) who championed craftmanship and individualism.
In addition to Werkbund designs and Pazaurek's collection of horrors, the museum showcases examples of design up to the present day, including a marvellous collection of vintage Apple products. This museum is essentially a giant time capsule - if we are defined by the "things" of our time, then this collection gives us a series of defining snapshots of human taste over the past century.
Looking at this unique collection, and at the juxtaposition of kitsch and tasteful design, it is easy to see which is beautiful and which is ugly. But quite often, it's the ugly stuff that catches your eye.
Posted by Isabel
The RCA Show is a not-to-be-missed annual spectacle of the some of the best of contemporary art, architecture and design - and everything in between. You’ll need a big ol’ dose of energy to gear yourself up to take in a show that seems to grow bigger every year. To my shame I haven’t even made it yet to the painting and sculpture show at the Battersea site, but have seen enough of the design sections at South Ken to get a glimpse of just some of the talent on show. What follows are just some of this year’s highlights, first from the more design led end, and, in the next post, some stars from the more craft-orientated side of things.
As ever, the Design Interactions department, led by Anthony Dunne of the British critical design duo Dunne and Raby, cast their speculative gaze onto the future – as well as the past, if Marguerite Humeau’s recreation of the sound of the Mammoth is anything to go by.
One of the most fun-looking projects was Charlotte Jarvis’ The Future is Not a Noun; It’s a Verb, that considers what happens when you put people and clown masks, party hats and custard tarts in a confined space. Her findings? Not suprisingly, that more people = more chaos faster.
On a (slightly) more serious note, I would happily sign up to Elliot P Montgomery’s ideas for making renewal energy more business like. Imagine being entered into a lottery every time you paid your electricity bill, the numbers being determined by a solar powered lottery ball tumbler on the power station's roof.
While the Design Interactions department’s offerings can seem rather out there, are all grounded in real, existing technologies and scientific fact. What marks these designers out is that they question our applications of and relationship with technology of the present and future. More grounded examples of alternative, more considered, uses of technology can be found in the Innovation Design Engineering department, such as Mohammed Daud’s admirable Stephoe project, that not only offers a design improvement on otherwise back-breaking agricultural work but also an ethical business model: buying the product in the UK sees another hoe given free to a farmer in a developing nation such as Daud's native Pakistan.
Representing some of the engineering-based talent was Hegan Koo’s Buggygo, a baby buggy that with two deft flicks of the wrist turns into a scooter. Parents shouldn’t get too excited though as it hasn’t gone through the rigmarole of health and safety testing yet...
Engineering ingenuity was combined with fine craftsmanship in some of the exhibits in the Design Products department. Ignore its name, Tien-Sheng Huang’s Beautiful Mistake table was based on a serious amount of skill in order to calculate the right amount of thermal expansion to shrink fit the brass joints into the table’s wooden surface.
With its design focused on the table’s joint, Huang’s work is exemplary of the larger interest in process and making amongst designers today, as seen in work of eminent designers such as Tom Dixon and his Flame-Cut series from 2010. At the RCA show it was also in evidence in designers such as Thomas Hatfield, whose project was a standardized system of joints that reflects the blurring of boundaries between work and domestic spaces: Hatfield's system allows you to create, and modify a workspace whenever, and wherever, it is needed.
Hatfield's practical design that shows that the show isn’t just a spectacle, but full of useful stuff too. It goes without mentioning that this is just a fraction of the innovative and exciting products on display. The next step of course for these designers is not just to get their products noticed, but put into production too, something that the post-industrial manufacturing landscape - in Britain at least - represents a real challenge.
Posted by Cat Rossi
The RCA Show is free and open to the public until 3rd July