Category Archives: Events/Activities

Design Museum London

Design Museum London

Design Museum London

A visit to the Design Museum (London) is full of a surprising array of objects. I was not sure what to expect but the collection of well designed examples included stationary, print work, clothing, shoes, parts of buildings, architectural scale models, mobile apps, mobile devices, and conceptual solutions to everyday problems, from the mundane to the extraordinary, including a beautiful sports car.

The collection demonstrated the best of design from 2014, with entrants nominated by peers. Below is imagery of some of my favourites examples:

 

DAS Abayas

DAS Abayas

Dumb Ways To Die - Metro Trains,  Designed by McCann Melbourne

Dumb Ways To Die (http://dumbwaystodie.com/) – Designed by McCann Melbourne

Also within the museum were exhibitions focussed on specific creative individuals. We saw beautiful time pieces designed by Daniel Weil including a range of his commercial design projects:

Daniel Weil Clock at the Design Museum
Daniel Weil Clock at the Design Museum
Daniel Weil Clock at the Design Museum
Daniel Weil Clock at the Design Museum

The museum was also exhibiting the larger than life decades worth of Paul Smith history. Hello, My Name is Paul Smith starts with a display of Smith’s first shop, re-created to its tiny life-size proportions showing us Smith’s humble beginnings that eventually turned into a huge design house now worth millions. His story was told in simple terms with examples of his iconic prints illustrating his journey. His prints have been applied to hundreds of objects and he has worked on a number of high profile collaborations with companies such as Mini (cars), Evian (water bottles), Thomas Goode (Teapots), Roberts Radio and The Rug Company.

Paul Smith Mini Cooper

Paul Smith Mini Cooper

Paul Smith Shop Facade

Paul Smith Shop Facade

Paul Smith print swatch

Paul Smith print swatch

I have a soft spot for Paul Smith’s prints and colour schemes and they bode well on fashion as well as stationary. The huge collection of items form only a fraction of the work and belongings of the designer, but still provide a vast insight into what appears to be his creative genius.

 

Material Witness Programme – Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction

I was accepted on to the Material Witness Programme back in November 2013. The programme is AHRC funded and organised by Alixe Bovey from University of Kent. However, participants, of which there are approximately 60, come from the CHASE consortium providing a wide range of research knowledge in one network. The purpose of the programme is to provide training for PhD students through a series of workshops, lectures and site-based or industry specific trips where materials can be ‘witnessed’. In other words, looking at objects and artefacts from a variety of interrogative perspectives to understand these in new ways.

The workshops were based at a variety of locations throughout the year, including the Courtauld Institute and The British Library. The latter provided a bit of a ‘behind the scenes’ look at various processes involved with conservation and digitisation of manuscripts and rare books. I found it fascinating and felt my excitement was comparable to the odd school trips we enjoyed when in school.

 

The great thing about bringing people together from different backgrounds but with similar goals in research is the combined network of knowledge. I loved hearing about the variety of subjects being researched, all fascinating in their own ways and the expertise that was brought in was a privilege to be a part of.

Later in the programme I was asked to participate in the event The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction. This event was based on the essay by Walter Benjamin The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. The event featured speakers such as Andrew Prescott (King’s College), Neil Cox & Dana MacFarlane (Edinburgh), and Michael Takeo Magruder(King’s College). Also speaking were fellow programme participants Sarah J. Biggs (Courtauld), Elinor Carmi (Goldsmiths), Alexandra Reghina Draghici (Goldsmiths) and finally artist Mark Leckey. (Full details of the event can be seen here: http://materialwitness.me/2014/05/21/the-work-of-art-in-the-age-of-digital-reproduction-31-may-2014/).

I was honoured to be asked by the programme convenor to speak  in light of the topic of the age of digital reproduction from the perspective of my own research. It was quite relevant to mention that Islamic art is faced with it’s own age of contemporary reproduction if we consider that any art post-Ottoman era is considered differently to that produced prior to it, simply because there is no longer an ‘Islamic Empire’ as such, and the period since (approx. 1923) has seen much change in production processes. Islamic art has also been predominantly traditional arts and crafts based, therefore, adding the use of digital technologies to contemporary developments is likely to produce some very interesting results.

In my presentation I provided a little background to traditional Islamic art by way of examples as seen below:

Fountain In Rabat, Morocco. Photography by David Wade

Fountain In Rabat, Morocco. Photography by David Wade

Mosque of Sultan Qaitbay

Mosque of Sultan Qaitbay, Cairo, Egypt, 1474. Photography by David Wade

Flower-style wooden box

Flower-style wooden box with drawers
17th century, India. Wood (poplar); overlaid with ebony inlaid with wood and incised, stained ivory. Image provided by http://www.metmuseum.org/

Using examples of Arabic calligraphy, architectural features and geometric patterns I was able to show how traditional Islamic aesthetics have been re-produced using modern day digital technologies including 3D printers and computer programming.
Examples included those I have mentioned on my blog previously:

A Hidden Order by Sama Mara and Lee Westwood

Projection from a live performance of A Hidden Order by Sama Mara and Lee Westwood

A digital unfolding of the day can be found on Storify:  https://storify.com/alixebovey/work-of-art-in-the-age-of-digital-reproduction

You can read more about the AHRC funded Material Witness programme here: http://www.kent.ac.uk/humanities/material-witness/

A Hidden Order

I had the opportunity to attend the private view and launch of A Hidden Order at the Princes School of Traditional Arts. The project is a collaboration between geometer Sama Mara and composer Lee Westwood who have created a digital method for producing Islamic geometric patterns using sound.

The design of the patterns were projected showing how the pattern built up further and further based on the composition of the musical sounds. Each key or note was interpreted by a program that would then convert the sound to form part of a colour and shape system. The programming was meticulously developed by Sama Mara but the development interface plays a hidden role in the final display of the artwork.

Read more about the project on the official website here: www.musicalforms.com/

Projection from live performance of A Hidden Order by Sama Mara and Lee Westwood

Projection from live performance of A Hidden Order by Sama Mara and Lee Westwood

Once the patterns have been generated they can be seen as standalone visuals. These were exhibited as digital prints along the walls at the PSTA.

Print generated from A Hidden Order

Print generated from A Hidden Order