Thursday, April 30, 2015

Design Museum - Design Lab insights

The current home of The Design Museum
Yesterday at Design Museum went along to a session arranged to provide Volunteer Tour Guides with more insights from one of the curators (in fact a Senior Curator), Alex Newson and very illuminating it was too.

Alex described his own trajectory from a one-time engineering student to an MA in Museum Studies at UCL and his subsequent employments.

Many of the Volunteers with a curating background were able to empathise when he spoke about how Museums had boomed and related courses had proliferated to the result there are too many qualified people seeking too few jobs.

It's fair to say that an understanding  of Architecture is a useful asset  to have in the world of  Design critique  -and Alex has used this to his advantage.

Alex was able to speak informatively about  the content of the Collection Lab too, points I noted were :
1) SolarSinter 3D printing-  The SolarSinter is a practical means of producing items using the power of the sun and the abundancy of sand . In the Collection Lab the display is a video with some associated items but the story is so much more - Alex explained how it was envisaged that it could be of use in Space travel enabling settlers to produce constructions without having to ferry large items out to other planets.
A description of 3D printing can also be used to explain the possible moves from Mass Production to Custom production for suitable products.

2) The second item that Alex spoke about was effectively the first example of Mass produced furniture - a Bentwood  Chair that was manufactured by Gebruder Thonet in Austria in the 19th Century - it was made of wood that was treated with steam to make it malleable and has subsequently been described as a Design Classic

3) Alex then spoke about the First Laptop Computer, it becoming the archetype of its particular genre  and also the  questionable success of the  'One per Child' computer which as a development project had a philanthropic business model (the idea was that developed market sales would subsidise the developing world use.

4) The final item Alex spoke about in detail was the Folding plug which he'd first encountered  as a near prototype from the Korean Design Student Min-Kyu- Choi, Min had bought a new fine piece of tech which he'd almost immediately scratched with a  plug so he'd gone and designed an elegant  way to avoid this in the future, subsequently he's gone on to bring a product to market -0 a great design story.

Having performed several tours of The Lab, there's a tendency to run the same tour each time and the value of a group re-visit is that it creates the space to re-examine what you're doing.
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