“I got kind of fed up going to design shows and seeing art – no one really shows everyday design,” says design curator and critic Nuno Coelho explaining why there is a Muji toilet brush in his current exhibition "New Simplicity".
The London-based show presents a series of super simple objects from the likes of Jasper Morrison and Industrial Facility – including Morrison’s Glowball Light for Flos and Industrial Facility’s Branca Chair for Mattiazzi – besides work by a new generation of designers whose work is occupied with simplicity and functionality. These designers are “responding to a trend towards frugality and a return to basics in a climate of economic uncertainty,” argues Coelho.
Jochem Faudet’s clever desk Magnet Light with parts held together by magnets sits well here, as does Min-Kyu Choi’s award winning folding plug and Oscar Diaz’s Fast Track Lighting System (simply clip off the LED light and re-clip along the electro-conductive strap where light is needed).
But besides the show-and-tell of existing products, what marks this exhibition out is the challenge that was set to nine designers. “I wanted to incorporate new technology like CAD and rapid manufacturing processes, and get designers to create pieces that fit the process – pieces that couldn’t be made any other way – so it’s not just stylistic,” says Coelho.
The result is nine products that take minimalism to its ultimate level. The objects don’t just appear pared back, they are made in one-shot using as little material and as few components as possible. With Alex Hulme’s Self-assembly torch, simply slot the LED into the torch head, and the pins are bent into direct contact with the batteries. Luka Stepan’s One Piece Pen might look pretty standard, but the archetype has been through a ruthless re-design; while most pens are made up of at least three parts, Stepan integrated everything into one shell. To change the cartridge, simply twist the spiral exterior in the opposite direction and the cartridge falls out.
We’re also fond of Jon Harrison’s Clamp-able lamp. Comprising four components built less than one millimeter away from each other, the light emerges from the mould pretty much ready for use.
While recent exhibitions such as Konstantin Grcic’s successful "Design Real" and Jasper Morrison’s "Super Normal" exhibitions have celebrated the everyday in exhibition contexts, it is good to see a show that encourages designers to innovate with a new manufacturing process – and redesign daily objects once again in a new pursuit for simplicity. Anna Bates
24 July 2010 to 8 August 2010
203 Brompton Road, London SW3 1LA