A new house for the Design Museum in London

If you had the opportunity to walk near Holland Park, you probably are familiar with the location where the Commonwealth Institute used to be: a Grade II listed building dating back to the 1960s. The building was designed by Robert Matthew/Sir Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, architects, and engineered by AJ & JD Harris, of Harris & Sutherland.

The building is the new house for the Design Museum. The museum was founded in 1989, originally located by the River Thames near Tower Bridge in London, and recently relocated to Kensington opening its doors on November 24th, 2016. The museum covers product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design. The new location also houses the Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning, 202-seat Bakala Auditorium and a dedicated gallery to display its permanent collection, accessible free of charge.

I recently visited the museum and had the opportunity to attend the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition currently being shown. The exhibition showcases designs produced over the previous twelve months worldwide.The entries are nominated by a number of internationally respected design experts a, falling into the seven categories of Architecture, Transport, Graphics, Interactive, Product, Furniture and Fashion. Since 2015 there have been six categories: architecture, fashion, graphics, digital, product and transport. Beazley Insurance came on board as exhibition sponsor in 2016.

I was very pleased to see at least two entries from Mexico. One of them is the work of the mexican Alejandro Magallanes for the Almadía publishing house, a small but innovative publisher based in Oaxaca, Mexico. I highly recommend reading the post in Yorokobu entitled “Las portadas exquisitas de Alejandro Magallanes”.

Name: Almadía book covers design
Designers: Alejandro Magallanes
Paragraph description:
The front covers for the Almadia book series was conceived when Magallanes looked into the archives and origins of the Almadia publishing house. Creating a bold design, the covers add an element of craftsmanship whilst providing an object that the reader would like to behold.

The other entry from Mexico was Yakampot, a fashion brand that aims to become an international name while embracing the cultural heritage of the country’s womenswear.

Also notable are the entries from Jonathan Barnbrook for the design of David Bowie’s last album “Blackstar”, as well as the Space Cup that enables astronauts to drink from a cup rather than a straw, developed on the International Space Station. The cup was a result of addressing the microgravity effects faced by fluids while at zero-gravity. The project “Capillary Effects of Drinking in the Microgravity Environment” (Capillary Beverage) studied the process of drinking from specially designed Space Cups that use fluid dynamics to mimic the effect of gravity.

Designers: Jonathan Barnbrook
One line description:
The album cover uses the Unicode Blackstar symbol creating a simplicity to the design allowing the music to be the focus and the creation of an identity that is easy to identify and share.
Paragraph description:
The album cover uses the Unicode Blackstar symbol creating a simplicity to the design allowing the music to be the focus and the creation of an identity that is easy to identify and share. Designed using open source elements, the artwork for the album became open sourced itself following Bowie’s death enabling fans to engage, interact and use it.

Name: Space Cup
Mark Weislogel: Innovator (IRPI LLC/Portland State University)
Andrew Wollman: Designer (IRPI LLC)
John Graf: Co-Investigator (NASA Johnson Space Center)
Donald Pettit: NASA Astronaut Innovator (NASA Johnson Space Center) Ryan Jenson: Sponsor (IRPI LLC)
One line description:
Using capillary forces to replace the role of gravity, the Space Cup enables astronauts to drink from a cup rather than a straw and was developed on the International Space Station.
Paragraph description:
The Space Cup was designed and developed using scientific results of experiments conducted aboard the International Space Station. The cup is designed to exploit passive capillary forces to replace the role of gravity in an earth-like drinking experience, but in the low-gravity environment of space. Sealed drink bags are normally sipped through a straw to avoid spilling in space. The Space Cup however uses surface tension, fluid wetting properties, and a unique shape to drive the liquid toward the astronaut’s mouth while drinking.

“Hate is…” the Tube

“Hate is…” the tube

Living in London is quite a terrific experience. It is certainly a place that offers an incredible number of things to do. From galleries to theatres, films to street performances, Thai to Brazilian food, museums to markets… it is only a matter of making a decision and heading to the selected place. It sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? Hold on a second!!! Is it not a little bit too expensive to do all these things? Don’t you have to put up with minor details, like the (sometimes) dreadful weather, American tourists, or simply getting to the place you want to go to?

Well, I am not going to analyse every single thing that you have to “tolerate”, I really wouldn’t have the energy. I have already discussed the reaction that “wet socks” have on me. Who knows… I might try the other subjects some other time. At the moment I want to concentrate in one particular issue: the tube. And before I continue let me just put this word in context for those of you that are not familiar with the term. The tube is the way Londoners refer to the underground system or  (in American English) the so-called subway. Please do bear in mind that the latter means a completely different thing in the UK… OK! Let us go back to the subject. I am aware that talking about the zillions of little topics that could be discussed about the tube, would take more than a small piece of text and the last thing I want to do is to kill you of boredom. So I have decided to tell you about something that really has been getting on my nerves lately: the ghastly, abominable “Love is…” campaign in the tube.

You might remember those horrid cartoons created by Kim Casali created in the ’70s. They basically picture this ridiculous naked couple with round faces and cheesy phrases describing what love is supposed to be: “Love is… when you are the centre of attraction”, “Love is… welcoming her mom in a week’s visit”, “Love is… ” rubbish. The worst thing is that these appalling pieces of culture were actually all over the world, translated into several languages and, now, even used to “encourage customers to behave more considerately towards each other and also to have more respect for their surroundings” in the bloody tube.

Looking at the images that they decided to use for the campaign, the only thing that comes to my mind is: “Why on Earth did they think that’s going to encourage people to behave more considerately? They just make me cry, they are ludicrous!”. Besides that, if you pay a bit more attention to what they show, it is always the bloke the one that is doing something wrong. From my point of view, she must suffer real hysteria; just look at her face. On the other hand he is more relaxed, and tries to enjoy his journey: both being important qualities to endure a tube trip, specially if you are unlucky enough to be in the district line or even worse the circle line…  I am entirely sure they could have hired the services of very talented graphic designers, with good and fresh ideas for the campaign to be a success.

Anyway, fortunately enough I don’t have to use the tube that much, but I can’t wait for the ads to disappear from every tube station. By the way I am also sending one of the cartoons (one would help me to make my point, more would be like torture), so that you can see them with your own eyes (in case you don’t believe me).


(Written: Feb 2002)