Once again I decided to select the most impressive displays, spectacles and events from the past year. Taking a design away from the context of its function and putting it on display is a tricky thing. These five shows stood out for the way they engaged the visitor and made design a memorable experience.
Craft Punk was a showcase of live design performances held during the Milan Salone del Mobile. With a brief to use leftover materials from the Fendi production line, a handful of young designers set forth to create new pieces where passersby could not only watch, but engage in the making process.
Rarely am I a fan of the minimalist white cube approach to display, but in the case of Bond.'s NY exhibition BeLow Tech, it worked. The members of Bond. created thought-provoking work, addressing real design issues. Their simple presentation and large text made sure the visitor focused on the ideas behind the products, which for Bond. is what it's all about.
In my year of travels, this is one of the few events I saw that offered a way for people not seeking design to encounter it. Set in Trafalagar Square, one of London's busiest tourist areas, Jaime Hayon created a gigantic chess set which captured everyone's attention. Not only did the public get to watch live chess games being played, they were exposed to the magnificence of a hand-crafted object.
Corn Craft was one of those exhibitions that transported its audience to another place. Organized by Gallery FUMI and Studio Toogood, work was commissioned specifically for the site using corn as a material. The result was an all-encompassing display of soft colors, yellow light, intriguing products and the most amazing smell.
One of the most surprising shows this year was Strijp-S in Eindhoven - not because of the products on display, but because it was a free-for-all of Dutch design. Young and old flooded the exhibition hall to test the latest designs, touching everything in their path and challenging the designers with questions of function and aesthetics. It was one of the most shocking and refreshing sights of the year. If more exhibitions allowed the public to have hands-on experiences, perhaps the result would be more responsible and efficient design.