Terence Conran and Designs of the Year

The Design Museum currently has two exhibitions dealing with graphic and product design, with a bit of interior and fashion design thrown in. These are the Terence Conran retrospective and The Designer of the Year.

Walking around the Conran, its amazing to notice how much his design inspired what we have in our British houses. Many a cupboard, cup and plate were recognised from family homes! Conran was involved with two major shops of the 1970s, Habitat and Heals. Brochures and point of sale items for these shops were as interesting as the goods themselves. The Heals shopping bag and a large, grocery style Habitat bag were amongst my favourite items.

The Design Museum have set out parts of the show as rooms, with designer clutter and homely touches. A wall of drawings, notes and sketches makes a back-drop to a set of chairs. Elsewhere, pieces of graphic design are pinned up with mini bulldog clips giving the show the feel of a working office.

Designer of the Year brings us right up to date. There is some delicate lace from Kate’s wedding dress and a small three-seater electric car (which you can sit inside). But the best parts of this exhibition are the segment from Gordon Young and Why Not Associates’ Comedy Carpet from Blackpool.  It is an outdoor concrete “carpet” of typographically told jokes, based on music-hall posters.This has to be one of GDP’s favourite design solutions of the year and will feature in one of our forthcoming porjects, Thinking Path.

My lecturing colleague and myself were also pleased to see featured the new typeface created for Nokia by Dalton Maag and worked on by one of our ex-students, Marc Foley. This typeface has been painstakingly designed across many non-Latin letterforms as well as English.

One last thought about this show. There is a screen in which you can see yourself. Suddenly someone else’s features are morphed onto your face. It is both amusing and nightmarish at the same time.


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