I went to the Work-in-progress show at Central St Martins tonight to see the MA in Industrial Design and Textile Futures course. I’d been invited last December to attend a crit of half of those student’s works and was curious to see what they’d achieved. One of the many reasons I enjoy keeping in touch with students and people still in school, is that more often than not, they point to possible industry futures and this was definitely a surprising experience.
Firstly it seemed that more than ever industrial design drove into the same dead end as its colleagues in the fine arts, design noir and critical design and sometimes interaction design. A lot of ideas, a lot of statements and one-liners but not many projects that addressed modern issues.
One exception was the work of Sara Bellini (terrible picture of her project above) who is trying to cater to bed-ridden children in hospitals. Health is a subject that in my experience, design academics shy away from, partly because the unknown are numerous, it’s hard to relate to the needs of the target audience and also because it’s hard to be poetic in that environment. I think her work might change their minds. Do go check it out in the final exhibition in June.
Industrial design is losing it’s place as the more “technical” but still easthetic cousin of engineering to become the art-wannabe. The future of industrial design it seems, could be found on the 10th floor where the second year of Textiles Futures were exhibiting their own work.
There was really a broad range of applications, of a extremely high standard and with applications that went far beyond your usual motif explorations or weaving techniques: from wallpapers that would visualise your energy use, to furniture made from post-it-like layers of materials, shower curtains that visualise and conserve the water being used, fabrics that trap light, cartoon-like companions for everyday life, and interactive corridors in airports that reflect people’s cultural backgrounds, architectural structures that bring variable amounts of shade to public spaces.
Eager to explore areas they had never touched in their lives, and to learn about the technologies that would help them, I had met some of these women (no men to be found here) for the first time at an Arduino workshop I organised with Tinker.it. Not 1 but about 8 of them had showed up.
I was impressed (and you all know that rarely happens) and I look forward to seeing if this is “la nouvelle vague” of design.