Today I visited London Design Festival at the V&A, and although I managed to see only a small part of the festival's offerings, the V&A is the home and hub of the London-wide festival and the installations I encountered were worth every minute of the rare trek to West London.
The Victoria & Albert is a very special place for me, probably my favourite place there is. I’ve spent many days wandering it’s floors, loosing myself in the overwhelming sense of tranquility and inspiration it bestows. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful building and what I enjoyed most about the Design Festival exhibits is that they were all responses to the museums existing spaces or collections. I am a huge fan of juxtaposition, particularly where old meets new and it was wonderful to be able to experience parts of the museum reimagined with a contemporary edge.
My first encounter was Green Room (pictured left) by London design Studio Glittero. Based on the theme of time, Green Room is a towering kinetic sculpture which falls six stories down a stairwell and is made up of 160 coloured silicone cords. The cords are draped from a central ring with workings based on the turning arm of a clock, it’s rotations animating the cords to give a living, breathing quality to the structure.
The second installation I visited was Liquid Marble (top image) by French multi-disciplinary designer Mathieu Lehanneur which “invites viewers to enter into a meditative state”. A large piece of black marble had been carved into a realistic yet static representation of the oceans movement. Although I loved the visual composition of the stark black sculpture against the ornate setting of the baroque Music Room, for me this was the least engaging of the exhibits I encountered.
The most exciting exhibit for me was Foil (below), a breathtaking installation by Benjamin Hudson of Layer in collaboration with German brand Braun. Located in the museum's tapestry room, a huge kinetic sculpture ran down the length of the space and moved with organic, wave-like motions, causing thousands of flickering light reflections from a snake like sheet of 50 000 mirror tiles to pulse across the tapestries, walls and high ceilings. The room was otherwise in darkness and a filmic soundscape further evoked the atmosphere which was very much that of being immersed in a beautiful and watery otherworldly chamber.
I also managed to finally see the Elytra Filament Pavilion in the Gardens which is part of the engineering season and had been on my to-do list all summer. The sunny end of summer Saturday seemed like a perfectly fitting day to be taking it in.
V&A garden is a magical place, completely walled on four sides by the museum itself. A peaceful and elegant oasis, which creates the illusion for a short moment that none of the metropolis’s hustle and bustle is just meters away and allows guests to feel all that exists is a world of art and contemplation.
The Elytra Filament Pavilion was commissioned by experimental architects at the University of Stuttgart is inspired by the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra and constructed using a robotic production process. The ethos behind it is that it utilises new technology to achieve innovation on a technical and design level. I found the structure fascinating once I understood it’s background including the fact that it was built by robots within the V&A garden itself. If you want to know more I recommend the video here, and the Pavilion can be seen until 6th of November.