The Design Museum – Much ado about nothing (ish)…

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Despite the buzz about the new Design Museum which is all over my Facebook feed and some London based design magazines, the whole experience didn’t exactly live up to my expectations.

The architecture of the venue is beautiful, with a multi purpose staircase, a Guggenheim structure spin with the walkways spiraling upwards. The design however wasn’t that well thought out, a series of photographs on the second floor and a display of 6 designs on the third floor. When you get to the fourth floor you are bombarded with information, you don’t know where to look.

The Design. Maker. User exhibit delivered a rather delightful experience, even if the exhibition suffered due to the problem the entire venue had: small spaces and overcrowding issues.

Reaching the designated floor, audiences are meant to face a large crowd sourced wall that displays what design means to people. Bottle openers, cameras, denim jeans were hanging on the wall, giving us the chance to understand how design is an everyday thing.

Entering the overcrowded “labyrinth”, there was a high-tech section that contained the history of technology and multiple examples of how things are made, like this metal casting mould used to create a £50 pound orange squeezer.

Die-cut logos of famous brands were hanging from the ceiling all around and a Vespa Piaggio was placed above our heads, which I found amusing because they reminded me of a scene taken straight from Harry Potter. The remaining parts of the exhibition were mainly written type on walls, which were difficult to read due to people standing in front of them.

In conclusion, this journey started with a really good first impression with few enjoyable moments, and ended as a bitter-sweet experience…

…much ado about nothing!

The Ulm model – Aftermath

For Germany, the devastation of the war, both architectural and moral, had been so complete that the future could only be thought of as a starting point from an absolute beginning.

The Ulm model was created as a necessity to Re-shape the (undetermined) future after World War II required the world, especially Germany, to make a big step ahead and move on, for good. A more minimalistic approach through aesthetically pleasing, futuristic and modern design was taken into account as a starting point for teacher and students to share the same anti-conformist vision, by which the Ulm academy is mostly well-known for.

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This exhibition visually showed and perfectly described what the aim of Ulm designers was; The exhibition venue was formed of three floors, with no particular attention to the order of things. As the curator pointed out, this decision was made to reflect the uniqueness of the Ulm model with the intention of differentiating Raven Row’s venue itself from other “classic” venues that usually have some sort of order (which I rarely get anyway). Works by Hans Von Klier, Walter Zeischegg, Hans Gugelot and Max Bill were shown throughout the exhibition, again with no particular order, making the exhibition a bit hard to understand and lot less enjoyable than I first thought.

There is no doubt that the Ulm model gave us many cutting edge products (and designer aswell!) that led us to nowadays future: an example could be Hans Gugelot’s Braun first black/chrome shaver (1962), products of this type had previously depended upon the medical association of whites and putty colours. Gugelot’s re-design anticipated the development in 1960s of a new product sector in ‘personal grooming’; Another striking example is the visual re-branding for Lufthansa (1963) from former Ulm student Hans Conrad which, after more than half a century, is still pretty much the same.

Kapos, P. (2016). The Ulm Model. London: Raven Row.