This is ‘First Hand’, the first selection of products for the newly formed Design Products Collection.
At the Royal College of Art we believe we see some of the best design in the world, yet there is sometimes a gap between a great student project and a realisable product for the market. The Design Products Collection is a bridge for graduates and faculty of the RCA Design Products Department to make their original and innovative design proposals commercially viable. Mostly the collection has been selected from work by graduates of the MA course from the last five or so years and demonstrates the diversity of conceptual approaches and technologies adopted at the RCA.
These products are intended for serial production and are not made in limited editions. In most cases these products are made or produced by the designers themselves, allowing them to be uncompromising, even radical. We intend this collection to take new design ideas to a broad public.
Professor Tord Boontje and Gareth Williams, Senior Tutor, have selected the Design Products Collection. We both believe our choices represent the very best new design thinking. We have called the first collection ‘First Hand’ because it gives you direct access to new design concepts, innovative craft-making and applications of technology. Over time it is our intention to add subsequent editions to a growing Design Products Collection catalogue, but, for now, we commend these first products to you.
Tord Boontje/Gareth Williams
Amar finds inspiration in twentieth-century French literature and philosophy, notably mathematically-inspired literary works associated with Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle) co-founded in 1960 by the poet and novelist Raymond Queneau (1903-76). Queneau's ‘Hundred Thousand Billion Poems’ (1961) is a set of ten sonnets each separated into component lines, all of which can be combined with any other. This principle inspired Amar's Raymond, a table named after Queneau. Raymond offers an open system which enables a range of possible formations for a table responding to different environments and spatial requirements. A simple connection method allows easy assembly and disassembly, creating an object which can constantly transform, changing its configuration and the atmosphere of the space it occupies.
David Amar was born in Jerusalem in 1976 and studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, and in Paris. He now lives in London.
Moulding ceramics is an ancient technique but until now each ceramic form has required its own separate mould. These Pixel vases resulted from Bond’s exploration of casting techniques, and his fabrication of a mould with movable segmented walls that could be reused in endless variable arrangements. The movable segments give each vase its unique pixellated surface, enabling every vase that is produced in the mould to be similar yet individual. Bond observes that “this is a rapid manufacturing tool, not rapid prototyping. Each piece that is made can be fired, glazed and used as a finished product.” For the Design Products Collection, Bond has designed two vases that can be made in his mould simultaneously.
Julian Bond studied Architecture at the Bartlett before he joined the RCA in 2008.
In the spring of 2010 Cappello was one of a group of designers invited to Korea by the British Council to take part in a culture-led regeneration project in the town of Gongju. He developed some outdoor furniture for the Happiness for Daily Life café that was inspired by local forms of timber architecture. The vibrant colours are derived from ‘Dan Cheong’, traditional Korean decorative colouring used on temples and palaces. The paint has been diluted and applied with ‘Soju’, Korean rice wine.
Prior to joining the RCA in 2007, Cappello studied industrial design at ECAL (Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He now has a studio in London.
Spanish designers resident in London, El Ultimo Grito often work with lowly materials like paper, card and adhesive tape, to create distinctive and characterful products, installations and interiors. This table is typical. Made only of folded card that has been saturated in resin, it is bright, durable and extremely lightweight.
Roberto Feo and Rosario Hurtado grew up in Madrid and later studied design in London. They founded their partnership in 1997 and work in various scales and media from interiors to graphics. Their work has been widely published and is included in temporary exhibitions and permanent design collections. Both designers teach in the RCA Design Products department.
Dutch designer Greetje van Helmond’s jewellery made of sugar crystals challenges conventional notions of value and longevity because of the ephemeral nature of the materials. The organic crystals also remind us of precious stones in their natural state. Her presentation box contains a single complete sugar crystal ring, and the equipment necessary to make more. While you are wearing one ring, you can be making another for tomorrow!
She says, “In present day life, durable materials are often used for the production of goods that are typically replaced or thrown away quickly. In my work I like to reverse the line of thought by using everyday, basic materials to create products that appear valuable. I thereby seek a tension between the product’s appearance and the materials from which it is made.”
The Box light is one of those products that question the status quo. Why do table lamps and task lights need to be heavily engineered? Why must electrical mechanisms be concealed? Taking advantage of the safety of low-voltage circuitry, up to ten halogen bulbs can be placed anywhere along the line of copper attached inside the cardboard box, which is both packaging and the structure of this table lamp. The transformer acts as a counterweight. The Box light’s economy of means makes it a low-fi alternative to overspecified competition. Meron adds, “I am fascinated by how different parts work together, I appreciate materials that present themselves honestly and simple mechanisms that perform a clear task.”
Alon Meron studied at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem prior to moving to London where he now runs his studio.
Important information: The Box light has not been certified for CE or UL standards.
Eelko Moorer was inspired by the design of low-fi B-movies and 1950s pulp fiction and movie posters. “This B-attitude translates into the way of working in that I play with mass-production techniques and materials, but take a very DIY approach to it.” The Jungle light is very tactile and inviting to touch, but at the same time there is something appalling about it. It is organic and fetishistic. Each lamp has 150 long silicone tentacles that can be used to suspend it. It was initially part of a rubber Jungle installation Moorer made, and also part of a series of works he designed dealing with hairs and knotting.
Moorer studied 3D design and shoemaking at Utrecht School of the Arts before setting up his own studio. He joined the RCA in 2003, the year he was nominated for the prestigious Rotterdam Design Prize. He is now based in London.
Oscar Narud has broken with conventional furniture typologies. The ambiguity of function is deliberate: this intersection of planes can be used as seating, for storage like a shelf, or for the display of objects. The piece continues a series of furniture Narud has developed recently, inspired by the simple construction of traditional Norwegian furniture. These are sturdy pieces, relatively easy to disassemble to move or repair. The addition of the keel motif, taken from boatbuilding, refreshes the tradition.
Narud, who was born in 1982 in Oslo, studied at Central St Martins and the RCA, and has worked in the studios of El Ultimo Grito and Nigel Coates. He is a founding member of the nine-strong Okay Studio design collective in London, established in 2006.
In computer gaming an avatar is a player’s virtual character. Marc Owens’ suit conflates the real and the virtual, making us into computer animations. The boots, superhero arms and hair are based on characters in World of Warcraft and give the wearer an authentically pixellated computerised appearance. The camera and video flipper record the wearer from behind, and beam the images into the visor, so you can see yourself moving like an avatar in a game. Here, the product is the transformative experience offered by the suit.
The arms, boots and hair are self-assembly from die-cut printed card, and can be purchased as a set or individually. The electronic components and specially made harness are additional items.
A Londoner born in 1982, Owens studied 3D Design at the University of Brighton and worked in advertising before joining the RCA.
Time, as we know, is a human construct, and the way we tell the time is an artificial code. While the sweeping arms of an analogue clock may suggest the flow of time, this is not the case with digital displays, which switch crisply from digit to digit, and moment to moment. Hye-Yeon Park’s compelling In-betweening clock reveals the interstices between recorded moments of time by morphing each digit into the next. Now we see time ebbing and flowing. In all other respects the In-betweening clock works like a regular twenty-four-hour digital clock, with hour, minute and second displays.
Before joining the Royal College of Art, Hye-Yeon Park studied industrial design at Hongik University, Korea.
“Learning from domestic industries of the past and by building one’s own conditions for production, the Design Products Collection asks me to question: what is the factory? What are the new conditions under which goods are to be manufactured? Who is the manufacturing workforce?
I invented a fictional character, the Cabinet Maker, to make the original Metro cabinets. His routine wanderings granted him the opportunity to harvest reclaimed materials from the city for simple handmade furniture pieces. In developing it for this collection I retained the production techniques of woodturning and recycled papier maché, and also explored new ideas about workplace and employment. My ambition is to develop an informal factory whose disparate employees – professionals as well as enthusiastic amateurs – are spread throughout the city, at work in their own cabinet making production facilities: turning wood in the shed in Bermondsey, or making papier maché in the kitchen in Dalston.”
Shannon studied fine art and was an assistant to the sculptor Antony Gormley for three years.
At a time when digital broadcasting renders conventional radio tuners obsolete, Radio 08 takes a willful pleasure in accentuating the AM/FM radio as an object to be tuned, like an instrument. Here, the body of the radio travels along the tuning bar as a visual metaphor for measuring the airwaves and as a practical tuning device. Radio 08 is offered as a table version, to be followed later by a wall-mounted model. It is powered by rechargeable AA batteries and includes a headphone jack. The red graphics are exclusive to the Design Products Collection and are the colour of the Royal College of Art crest.
Mikael Silvanto, born in Finland in 1980, is a partner in Helsinki-based industrial design studio Aivan.
Electroplating is generally used for jewellery and to create decorative metallic surfaces but here Els Woldhek has used it structurally, to create the joints of her little hybrid table-cum-storage unit. The electroplating process grows crystals around copper wires securing the timber joints. Nature is allowed to run its course in this curiously perverse – naturally false – item.
Els Woldhek was born in the Netherlands in 1984. Before her graduation from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2008 she founded Whatels, the studio she now operates in London.