Design Practice 1 – Design Museum Brief Analysis

Initial thoughts based on my arrival indicated that there was something different to be learned from analysing the exhibits displayed in the Design Museum. There were a number of pieces that aroused my interest and creativity, namely that contemporary art means something more than what it appears to be. It can be visualised and interpreted in so many different ways by each new person that sees it. Although not a huge fan of clichés, I believe that the phrase ‘one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure’ strongly applies to the concept of contemporary art, especially in terms of the artefacts displayed in this exhibition.

Simply looking doesn’t suffice. Each piece had a story, a process, a selection of unusual materials being manipulated and used in ways that you wouldn’t expect, and this is where the inspiration can be drawn from in vast quantities. Probably one of my favourite pieces was Susanne Klemm’s ‘Frozen’, where she exhibited jewellery made out of nuts, twigs and other natural materials. This along with the research I obtained from the rest of the exhibition led me to further investigate artistic processes using unrelated materials. I discovered an artist that created sculptures out of PVC tubes. These were glorious examples of the potential that using materials that would otherwise be used for alternative motives could have.

I wanted to investigate this further by sourcing materials that were easy to obtain and less expensive so that I could replicate the style. This I achieved by purchasing a quantity of simple party straws, various glues and tape and some paint. Initial experimentation led to cutting multiple sized chunks from the straws, laying them out in an orderly fashion, and experimenting with different adhesives to see which would be the most appropriate. Once I had done this, I chose the strongest and tested it for rigidity. Once it had passed this test I could begin creating some basic structures to try and reciprocate some of the creative knowledge I had accumulated through examining the exhibits.

The next stage involved furthering what I had already discovered and taking it to a new, more design based level. Out of the structures I made, I displayed one as a basic artistic model in keeping with the contemporary jewellery theme of the Design Museum. The other I photographed in various positions, with the potential of applying it to posters to display what my pieces could have looked like if given applications in the media.

To conclude, I believe that I have learned a lot in terms of contemporary art and design. It has taught me how you can take something simple, apply a process to it and give it a completely different meaning and intention. This is ultimately the point of contemporary design, to take something and turn it into something else that makes you think ‘how was that done?’ as well as ‘why?’.