I started to think about this when I went to an exhibition this week – the British Council’s Mark-ing, which presents the work of eight Japanese designers and eight British designers together as part of Japan Design Week. So it should be an exhibition of design, right? Well, yes and no.
Design to me means objects that you can use. Tables and chairs, for instance – they’re definitely design, so we’re on safe ground there. There are several of them in the exhibition.
I liked the texture of this chair by Helen Amy Murray:
And the simplicity of this one by Benjamin Hubert:
Or this stool by Max Lamb:
But the tables by Jo Nagasaka were my favourites – I could see myself buying these:
Textiles fit the design bill as well. Like this one from Ismini Samanidou:
At the other end of the scale come paintings and sculpture – objects that have value in themselves without having to do anything for you. That makes them art, not design in my book. There are several exhibits here that I would definitely put in the sculpture bracket.
This work, by Maiko Kurogouchi, is very attractive but not functional:
As is this one by Kouichi Okamoto:
And this by Ryuiji Nakamura:
And especially this, by Geoffrey Mann, another work that I would have liked to take home with me even though it doesn’t do anything:
This picture is by paper-cut artist Risa Fukui:
And this one, with its own light, by Moritz Waldemayer:
So that defines the design and art ends of the spectrum. That leaves us with the stuff in the middle. The objects that look like they’re going to be useful but aren’t. Like this black globe by Yuri Suzuki which I think is a spherical record though I can’t see how you play it:
Or this plastic milk bottle with holes in it by Makoto Orisaki, which I like very much but can’t see myself using.
Each designer has also provided an object (a ‘fragment’ of their consciousness) which has inspired them. Not surprisingly, Makoto Orisaki was inspired by….
The exhibition is intended to highlight social, educational and cultural differences between the designers while also examining the global relationships that connect contemporary design and designers across the world.
Oh – I’m not sure it did that for me. But I definitely found it entertaining and thought -provoking, even though I didn’t have the kind of thoughts I was supposed to have. And I could have done with more information about the works on display as well as the designers’ biographies given in the catalogue.
Never mind – it’s worth a visit. It’s at the Libby Sellers Gallery in Berners St (just off Oxford St) until 25th January. So you can go along and decide for yourself.