Eek, I’m way behind on my exhibition reports. OK, if you have any interest in the future of product and fashion design, or even art, then scrap all weekend plans and get thee to Shad Thames. For this weekend is the last weekend for the wonderful eye-opener that is The Future Is Here at The Design Museum.
An important exhibition that explores the blurring boundaries between designer, manufacturer and consumer, it covers all the topical tech issues of the day, including crowd sourcing, design hacking, mass customisation and 3D printing. Starting with a recap of the industrial revolution (history wasn’t my strong point at school so this alone was of interest to me), it then leads into modern technology and the importance of the World Wide Web. Tim Berners Lee (creator of the WWW as we know it) was always an advocate of a caring, sharing mindset and the exhibition gives us an understanding of the wider implications of this ‘open’ thinking on the future of design and how it will impact on our lifestyles.
Of course, the section on 3D printing was especially useful to me and on display is a selection of 3D printed eyewear from Ron Arad’s PQ line. Amongst all the exhibits are informative short films that are definitely worth watching. In particular, Jonathan Rowley from Digits2Widgets explaining the pros and cons of 3D printing in design, but also Ron Arad who takes pains to point out that “it’s not about the technology but what you do with it”.
RON ARAD 3-D PRINTED PQ EYEWEAR
Also on display are a number of 3D printing machines that you can see in action, or films of them doing their thing. Seeing with your own eyes how it all works is a big help in getting your head around this bonkers technology, suddenly it all makes so much more sense…
The mass customisation section is another revelation. It’s the next logical step to 3D printing that everyone is getting very excited about and means that fashion-wise we could all own our own slightly modified versions of the same item in future, or that product-wise we could have individual chairs made ergonomically based on data taken from our weight and proportions. Thinking of the implications this will have on design and manufacturing in developing countries for example or in the medical industries is where this becomes particularly game-changing. (Or, you know, being able to buy a Chanel Boy Brick bag in the exact shade that matches your manicure.)
COMPONENTS FOR THE MI ADIDAS MASS CUSTOMISED SPORTS SHOE
THE FEMUR STOOL BY ASSA ASHUACH IS DESIGNED USING AN ALGORHYTHM BASED ON THE WEIGHT AND PROPORTIONS OF THE USER
As expected with these disruptive technologies, there are many questions raised – this is one of those exhibitions that really makes you ponder and wonder. There are those who think that the combination of digital manufacturing, online marketplaces and social networking will surely make old factories and distrubution methods redundant, while others believe we will simply adapt. I left wondering if 3D printing in design and art might lead to a new kind of democratic pop movement, where we can manufacture and modify our own products and artwork cheaply ourselves. And if that’s the case, what happens to intellectual copyright? While this future is a decade or two away, some of these changes are happening already as the exhibition so beautifully demonstrates.
Do go and see it if you get the chance (it ends on October 29th), and let me know your thoughts on how this design future will affect you.
CATHERINE WALES 3D PRINTED NYLON CORSET AND FEATHER SHOULDER PIECE
COMPUTER CONTROLLED HAND LOOM FOR RAPID PROTOTYPING AND CUSTOMISED DESIGNS
THE 3D PRINTED HOUSE IS COMING!
UNTO THIS LAST USES DIGITAL TOOLS TO MAKE WOODEN FURNITURE TO ORDER, MINIMISING WASTE
A SELECTION OF CONSUMERS’ IDEAS FOR MODIFYING IKEA DESIGNS ON THE IKEA HACKERS SITE
CHAIRS BY DIRK VANDER KOOIJ
The Future Is Here is at The Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YD until 29th October 2013.