Design of the Year Brings the Great, Good and Peculiar with and Eco-Friendly Focus

Feb 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured London Article, Hotel-Assist News

London has been a beacon of design for decades, from Sir Alex Issigonis’s adorable Mini Cooper to Harry Beck’s colourful yet functional Underground map, to Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s instantly recognisable red telephone kiosks, bold and classic features have bestowed iconic status on these creations, so much so that London would be unrecognisable without them. The city‘s enduring reputation is hardly surprising, with many cutting edge furniture shops, fashion houses, architect firms and a slew of fantastic educational institutions such as Central St Martins College of Arts and Design, Camberwell College of Arts and Chelsea College of Art and Design, London is continually turning out a new generation of home-grown talent, or luring new names from overseas to add and improve to the city’s unique look and feel. New innovations are constantly surprising and pioneering, making use of the latest technologies and taking into account environmental and social concerns, so it is with great excitement that people are flocking to the ‘Oscars of the design world’ at The Design Museum’s Design of the Year exhibition.

 

Covering a range of disciplines, from architecture to fashion, the exhibition brings together designers from all over the world, and represents some of the biggest names in the industry including Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton for her design of the Duchess of Cambridge’s stunning wedding dress and architect Zaha Hadid for her Guangzhou Opera House. There are a few curious additions however, for every design that becomes a staple of homes across the nation, there are the odd entries that are perhaps more suited to surrealist pondering than resting a mug of coffee on. A table made out of humble polystyrene looks as though it would collapse if one so much as sneezed near it, but could prove to be an eco friendly solution to a place to fan out your magazines, Werner Aisslinger’s stackable chairs made from hemp are similarly biodegradable. A particularly whimsical entry is Gordon Young’s comedy carpet, a concrete wall with jokes in a music hall, letterpress style font embedded into the raw material. It might be a cheeky, Monty-Pythonesque wink at British wit, but the designer worked closely with chemists to create the specific alchemy to produce such a curious product, showing that even the most bizarre entries are brought about with the utmost seriousness.

 

Whilst these products may not become commercial successes, they represent an earnest attempt at the future of design to impact the world less whilst enhancing it all the more. This is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the museum, designs that move us into a more convenient but less disruptive future. Designs for electric cars rub shoulder’s with Korean chain Homeplus’s supermarket vending machines and ┬úD printers which can make objects out of glass, intended for use in harsh desert environments. A product with a particularly anthropological bent is the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design’s prototype for a new style of ambulance, with 360 degree access to the gurney, easy-clean surfaces and better-utilised space to allow paramedics to operate with ease. It has bee estimated that this design would reduce hospital admissions by 60% and save the NHS tens of millions of pounds.

 

Therein lies the crux of the museum, come April the winner of the award will be announced, but unless these designs are seriously considered for investment by those they were created to help, this will just be another ghost town of fantastic ideas stagnating. One would hope that the NHS will see the long-term impact rather than the amount of zeroes on the cheque, and maybe this year the press surrounding the exhibition will be enough to convince them.

 

If you would like to see the wild and wonderful designs on show, there are many fantastic hotels in the surrounding area. The charming, two-star Mad Hatter hotel offers very reasonable rates within a traditional pub setting in nearby Southwark. Another pub hotel with plenty of character, low-cost rooms and elegant decor is The Wellington, just a short walk away from The Design Museum, or if you require added privacy, or are travelling with a family, Kings Wardrobe Serviced Apartments might be just the ticket, with bright, cheerful interiors and modern kitchen units.

 

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