The Designer Maker User: A Design Museum Tour

This was an Introductory tour of Designer Maker User, the Design Museum’s permanent exhibition. The tour explored the exhibition’s displays and exhibits and was designed to provide an introduction to contemporary design, looking at the ways in which we engage with design.

On what turned out to be a really beautiful sunny day in Kensington, London, on the morning of Saturday 10 June 2017, we met our blind and visually impaired Design Museum visitors at the museum entrance and went up to the second floor where the DMU exhibition is installed.

Some Curiosities And Thoughts.
Design has evolved over time and this session was designed to provide a discourse around the continuing interaction between designers, makers and users, and the development of the role of design. Some of my questions were;

  • Have our human needs helped shape our design needs?
  • Have all design inventions been of a necessity or out of a desire?
  • Have we (users) shaped design or has design shaped the way we live?

The Tour.
Our participants were taken up to the entrance of the DMU, noting the timeline that graces the entrance to the exhibition. The earliest entry on the timeline was from 1759 with Josiah Wedgwood and the birth of design, following three different industrialisation periods through to the 3rd Industrial Revolution of the 21st century, with 2012 the last entry on that timeline.

As the DMU features almost 1,000 items of twentieth and twenty-first century design, I decided we would view a small selection of objects. The Anglepoise, the wooden Kitchen model, Olympic torch, Phonosuper SK5 record player, the Juicy Salif and BigRep One 3D printer were our stops along the tour of the exhibition.

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The Anglepoise Lamp by George Cowardine

Image: The Anglepoise Lamp by George Cowardine.
Image credit: The Design Museum.

I enjoyed viewing innovative designs and the 3D printer. I learnt a lot more about the origin of design and the processes – James Hallam

Our final stop on the tour was the BigRep One 3D Printer. Not surprisingly, this was a really big winner, providing real-life examples of 3D objects that could both be handled and tested. Additive manufacturing, the process in which 3D printer layer and produces items, has brought a transformation of the 3D printer from laboratory equipment into a consumer product.

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3D printed objects produced by the BigRep One 3D printer

Image: Some 3D printed objects produced by the BigRep One 3D printer.
Image credit: MaMoMi.
All objects property of the Design Museum.

The Creative Workshop.
The workshop gave us an opportunity to review the introduction to DMU and discuss any observations identified on the tour. We explored some objects in the museum’s handling collection, helping to enhance the limited exploration during the tour. Products like the Anglepoise Original Type 1227, designed by George Cowardine, with its unique spring based aluminium arm mechanism, the Juicy Salif by Philippe Starck and its sleek and abstract design which was unfortunately only a triumph of form over function because of the several issues with steam from the sprout scalding the user, and therefore discontinued, to the Lilliput Salt and Pepper set designed by Stefano Giovannoni for Alessi, were all great items to have lengthy discussions around.

As users, the participants left with a really valuable knowledge of the design processes, and some of the criteria designers and makers have to iterate over in the decisions to create, design and manufacture products.

It was really good looking at the different iconic design items and also lear how design came about and has changed over the years – Ramona Williams

Images.
Top left: Participants next to the BigRep 3D Printer.
Top right: At the Creative Workshop.
Bottom: Participants, Companions and the facilitator Andrew Mashigo in the Creative Workshop.
Image credit: MaMoMi

Credits:
Multisensory Tour Facilitator: Andrew Mashigo, MaMoMi.
Tour Programmer: Bernard Hay, Producer Adult Learning, Design Museum.
Banner Image of Designer Maker User Exhibition: Luke Hayes.

#newdesignmuseum #designermakeruser #mamomi

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