I went to see the impossibly crowded opening of the Work-in-progress show at the RCA yesterday and although I really should try to go back, the feeling I got coming out of it was one of being puzzled by what it all meant.
Fact is, I’m not sure of RCA’s overall design rhetoric anymore. Durrel Bishop who once
headed taught Design Interactions is now teaching at Design Products and the product design projects start to look like the works for Design Interactions a few years ago (especially the radio project, a late cousin of the IDII’s Strangely Familiar project when I was there in 2005). The Design Interactions projects are conceptually mostly based on either statistics, exploitation of the edges of society and in general not very self-explanatory. Maybe that’s what that course aims to do, to make us aware of problems to come and simply attempt to illustrate solutions or consequences. But then is that even design anymore or simply creative naysaying?
Few projects were really self-explanatory, and well isn’t that what art is about? You read the description to give you a contextual framework in which to understand what you’re seeing. Devoid of those explanations, I would challenge anyone to understand what was happening. Again, not a good or a bad thing, just a trend it seems.
Bless their hearts the IDE course presented loads of great work, themed on the next generation of mobiles (with the network 3) and global warming solutions for the household.
In strange way, the whole show could have been presented along an axis of time, answering the question: For who is it you are designing?
IDE would have answered: “someone from 2009”,
Design Products: “someone from 2011” and
Design Interactions: “someone from 2025”.
Perhaps then for me would the show have made sense and so would the activity of designing and future-casting associated with it.