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London Design Festival at the V&A

26th Sep 2016

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Undoubtedly a staple of the London design scene, the V&A has once again collaborated with the London Design Festival – their partnership now in its eighth year. As the core location of the festival, the V&A has again housed a broad range of commissioned activity across the Museum. As well as talks and workshops that took place over festival week, a dialogue has been created between a series of remarkable new installations and the V&A’s world-renowned collections, showcasing new ideas, technology and materials.

The engineering season kicked off in May 2016 with a garden installation by experimental architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer. It is their first ever public commission in the UK. The Elytra Filament Pavilion explores the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making. Inspired by a lightweight construction principle found in nature, the fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra, the Pavilion is an undulating canopy of tightly-woven carbon fibre cells created using a novel robotic production process. Since its inauguration into the museum grounds, the Pavilion has grown, responding to data on structural behaviour and patterns of inhabitation of the Garden that has been captured by real-time sensors in its canopy fibres. It will continue to do so until the installation closes in mid-October 2016.

The Italian luxury watch maker, Panerai, has collaborated with the London-based design duo Glithero, founded by British designer Tim Simpson and Dutch designer Sarah van Gameren, known for creating mesmerising, time-based mechanical installations. Their design for the V&A, The Green Room, has taken over an entire towering stairwell in the museum. The effect is monumental. Emulating the circular motion of the arms of a clock, The Green Room is both interactive and performative. The space is delineated by veils of colourful strings, with all the different hues blending into each other, creating illusory effects. The strings are gently lifted and then dropped by a motorised revolving CAM arm, prompting visitors to methodically travel through the immersive scene. Conceptually responding to the passage of time, the piece is in a constant state of transformation through these slow, choreographed movements. The raking light that streams in through the surrounding windows creates a telescopic feeling.

For the last six decades, design has been a core focus for Braun. Beyond razors, toothbrushes and alarm clocks, the values of quality, functionality and timelessness have been integrated into their design philosophy. This is epitomised by the statement ‘less but better’ as once written by Dieter Rams, their legendary former head of design. The notorious agency has collaborated with British designer, Benjamin Hubert, director of experiential design agency, Layer, to create a dancing metallic river in the V&A’s lateral tapestry gallery. FOIL comprises a 20-metre-long undulating ribbon comprising 40,000 individual metallic elements which run down the entire length of the room. The ribbon moves continuously and dynamically in a wave formation, reflecting and scattering light around the gallery. The profiles of the metallic elements echo the precision-engineered shape of the Braun shaver foil, with the specific movements inspired by the 360-degree rotation of the Braun shaver head. A custom system of LED lights will be directed onto the undulating metal foil: which will reflect, amplify and trace the light as it dances across the space. This will remain open until October 5th.

London Design Festival;

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Victoria & Albert Museum;

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Instagram: @vamuseum