Retelling a story of design and creation that began over 2,000 years ago, the third edition of Design Exquis is now open at the Roca London Gallery, offering an intriguing twist on the original idea.
Design Exquis is a series of exhibitions inspired by the collective method of creation, developed by the Surrealists. Roca London gallery have announced the last designer of this creative chain as music composer Nick Phillips brings the story to an end.
Taking the debate about design to a whole new level for 2013, and exploring sound as design, the exhibition’s curators, Florian Dussopt and Géraldine Vessière, asked Nick to be the final designer in the process, which involves five designers responding in turn to an object created by their predecessor.
Through his creation, Metamorphosis, Nick transforms marble into sound. For this, he used a technical method to convert the grain and colour of the material into sound patterns, which became a sonic template to build his sound from. He then continued to draw visual inspiration from the marble to take the composition further. Played through headphones and also out loud in the gallery, the music accompanies visitors on their Design Exquis journey.
The first time that sound has been presented as one of the objects in the process, Metamorphosis is Nick’s response to object number five, Reflections by Lex Pott. Inspired by the book matching technique used in the wood and stone industry by which a solid block of stone is cut in two to open like a book to create a mirrored pattern, Lex created a marble room divider and a series of six shelves. The various organic patterns of the marble combined with very strong geometric shapes provide a contrast between the natural organic material and the geometrical industrial forms. For the shelves, Lex replaced the second part of the stone with a mirror to create an artificially accurate reflection. Thanks to the imaginary space created by the mirror, the object becomes complete.
Lex’s book matching technique was inspired by the angular shape of Mountain Light, the fourth object in the chain, which reminded him of an open book. Mountain Light, by Studio Swine, is a desk light embedded in rock and elevated on brass legs to give an architectural feel. Warm LED lights are used to bring a summer ambience to the interior all year round. Exploring the integration of modernist architecture with nature through luxury interiors and glass facades, the designers used a new faux marble technique, with concrete as the principal material.
This idea of utopia and the synthesis of the natural and the constructed was inspired by object three in the Design Exquis process, Summer Bowls. For Studio Swine this raised questions about the construction of paradise, the feeling of holidays and playful modernist architecture in the land of the endless summer – particularly Palm Springs and Los Angeles.
Summer Bowls is a group of containers inspired by the colours and tastes of ice cream. Created by design studio 45 Kilo, the bowls are handmade using a traditional metal spinner, which leaves traces of the wooden mould on the metal. Colour-anodized aluminium surfaces, more commonly associated with digital devices, and Corian tops give the bowls a contemporary feel.
What better use for the Summer Bowls but for the serving of ice cream? How useful then that the preceding object in the process, design number two, is an ice cream maker. Italian food designer Jacopo Sarzi was inspired by the ancient technique of ice cream making, after spotting similarities between this and the traditional method of soap making.
Making soap requires a combination of greasy and alkaline ingredients at a temperature of 45°C and involves intense blending, known as saponification. Producing ice cream also entails a blending process, a greasy ingredient and requires constant stirring but in this case, the temperature must be -21°C. Jacopo’s ice cream maker is made out of cork, a natural and food safe material. The connection? A bar of soap, the object which begins Design Exquis: the Roca edition.
See Design Exquis at Roca London Gallery, Station Court, SW6 2PY until 16 November.
Photo credits: © Emma TS Robinson