Great Brits: The New Alchemists
28 Aug 2006 -
23 Sep 2006
Curators: Emily Campbell & Alice Rawsthorn
Great Brits: The New Alchemists showcases a new generation of designers working in Britain, sharing a passion for experimentation with new materials and technologies with an alchemical bent.
The Oxford English Dictionary definition of alchemy is “seeking to turn base materials into gold or silver” in “a miraculous transformation”. The work of the five young British designers in Great Brits – The New Alchemists shows how they are exploring the transformative possibilities of design in everything from leaps of the imagination to the application of advanced technology.
Each designer works in very different ways and to different ends, yet they all deal with the transformation of banal materials, processes, objects and typologies into something unexpected and, often, extraordinary. Pascal Anson reinvents abandoned objects by reassembling them in sets; while Peter Traag makes new furniture from old. Michael Cross and Julie Mathias flirt with danger by plunging electric light bulbs under water. Julia Lohmann turns food industry waste, such as sheep’s stomachs, into surreal lighting. Mathias Megyeri confronts our fears by customising security products.
This is the second Great Brits exhibition to be curated by the British Council and the Design Museum and unveiled at Paul Smith’s headquarters in Milan. The first exhibition in 2003 explored the revival of romanticism in design. Great Brits – The New Alchemists reflects the emergence of a rawer surreal spirit in which designers are challenging the standardisation and loss of identity that decades of globalisation have bred by weaving narratives into design.
Curators: Emily Campbell, British Council and Alice Rawsthorn, Design Museum.