Fear and Love - Reactions to a Complex World, presents eleven installations by innovative and thought-provoking designers and architects working today. The works explore issues that define our time, including networked sexuality, sentient robots, slow fashion and settled nomads.
The exhibition shows how design is deeply connected not just to commerce and culture but to urgent underlying issues – issues that inspire fear and love. This multidisciplinary and global exhibition aims to capture the mood of the present and establish the Design Museum as the home of design debate.
"When the Design Museum opened in 1989, the first exhibition, Commerce and Culture, was about the value of industrial products. Three decades later, we now take that value for granted. Fear and Love goes further, and proposes that design is implicated in wider issues that reflect the state of the world. By inviting designers to create installations with such an open brief, the museum presents itself as a laboratory of ideas, and a place for absorbing how the world is changing," said Justin McGuirk, Chief Curator at the Design Museum.
Dutch product designer Christien Meindertsma’s installation Fibre Market (above) explores the potential of recycling textiles. Noting that there is almost no culture of textile recycling, she examines the lost value of 1,000 discarded woollen sweaters, turning their fibres into a highly physical and colourful presence in the exhibition.
Fashion designer Hussein Chalayan has produced a series of wearable devices that detect your emotions and project them for the outside world to see. The installation, entitled Room Tone, addresses the idea of repressed emotions, exploring the everyday anxieties connected to city-living, from fear of terrorism to sexual desire.
A multidisciplinary designer based in Pittsburgh, Madeline Gannon has created custom software to transform a 1200kg industrial robot into a living, breathing mechanical creature named Mimus. More than a tool for performing repetitive tasks, Mimus is able to sense and respond to your presence as you near her enclosure. Gannon shows that despite our collective fears and anxieties surrounding robotics, we have the power to foster empathy and companionship between humans and machines.
Neri Oxman, an architect, designer and professor at MIT in Boston, has created a series of death masks called Vespers using ultra-high definition 3D printing. Reviving this ancient ritual object traditionally made using wax or plaster with state-of-the-art technology, Oxman speculates on how wearable accessories might help to transform us at the end of our lives. This new body of work is the culmination of a project that recently included a mask created for Björk.
Arquitectura Expandida, an activist architecture collective from Colombia, is creating a replica of a school that they have designed and built in one of the most disadvantaged communities of Bogota. The structure, Potocinema, houses a series of videos by young people from the school in Bogota, who are reflecting on fear and love in their neighbourhood.
The graphic designers Metahaven, based in Amsterdam, present a film about the marine wildlife conservation group Sea Shepherd. The film Love Letter to Sea Shepherd, accompanied by a series of highly graphic flags, is a work of advocacy in support of the organisation’s anti-whaling activities, but also a meditation on forms of intelligence that we barely understand.
Chinese clothing designer Ma Ke presents her ongoing project Wuyong, or ‘Useless’. Ma Ke’s philosophy is to create clothes that have a strong connection to the land and the rural traditions of China. Rejecting consumerism and ‘fast fashion’, she treats her clothes as forms of artistic but also ethical expression.
Fear and Love – Reactions to a Complex World opens 24 November at the new Design Museum in London.