Freak Show - Strategies for (dis)Engagement in Design
by sabine7 / November 22, 2010

Freak Show is an exhibition of design by designers who seek to engage through disengagement, thereby encouraging us to accept change. One such piece is the Robot Lampshade by James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau.


Robot Lampshade - James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau

Auger and Loizeau, by stripping the commercial role from their designs, use their work to point out "consumer culture, the role of products and the ubiquity of technology".


Urchin - Stuart Haygarth (detail)

Haygarth continues to work with found objects in multiples, this time using eyeglass frames to create the Urchin shades.


Urchin - Stuart Haygarth


La Dolce Vita - Sarah Kueng and Lovis Caputo

The newcomers examine "the nature of originality and create situation-specific interventions to engage with and raise questions about conventional constructs."


Peckham Shield - El Ultimo Grito

Roberto Feo and Rosario Hurtado use cardboard and resin to explore "how contemporary culture incorporates, re-uses and re-interprets the systems and structures that it has inherited."


Desk Light Bulb - Pieke Bergmans

Bergmans continues to show us a world where mutations become the norm.


Marti Guixé, the self-identified ex-designer, "prioritizes function over shape and material he challenges aesthetic preconceptions in our visually orientated culture."


Age of Berlin - Mathieu Lehanneur

Lehanneur creates age-pyramids or demographic jars that reflect the age of various populations.


Workshop Chair - Jerszy Seymour

Seymour's emphasis is on "the 'primeval soup' of design, reconsidering materials and shapes with a new 'alphabet and language' to examine how industry affects values and social structures.

Curated by Sophie Lovell for Berlin's Helmrinderknecht Gallery, Freak Show brings us design that has been conceived far away from the box. Lovell explains, "Right now design is on a critical path involving a radical shift in the understanding of its role in the development and expression of our society. As humanity expands to fill all available space, as technosphere merges with biosphere, the role of the designer is pushed into an increasingly pivotal position.

The designer, like the rest of us, is part of an enormous, complex system that we ourselves have created. The designer is necessarily immersed in the social, intellectual, technological and political context of our constructed world. Thus the responsibility of designers is one of engagement since they are key agents in the process of its creation and maintenance.

But to engage within the system is to perpetuate the system. And our system is not sustainable. We need thinkers and designers to explore strategies that can generate change and to do that they need to disengage with the system.

Our survival depends upon diversification through mutation. We need conceptual thinkers, lateral thinkers, revolutionaries, explorers, inventors, anarchists, activists, cross-disciplinarians and non-linear agenda-benders. In order to think outside of the box you need to distance yourself from it. Traditionally those who disengage in this way are outsiders - freaks - and traditionally they are suppressed or rejected since they tend to threaten the status quo. But now the status quo is threatening us and we are learning to value and to celebrate 'difference'."


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