words Johanna AgermanA key, a pen and a torch are all part of an exhibition looking at simplicity in design. Curated by design historian Nuno Coelho, the exhibition, titled New Simplicity, opens in a pop-up gallery in London at the end of July. It will feature work by a new generation of designers who make rationalism and functionalism the heart of their design philosophy. “It’s a response to a current trend towards frugality and a return to basics in a climate of economic uncertainty,” says Coelho.
The show will feature work by well-known minimalists such as Industrial Facility and Jasper Morrison as well as new pieces by recent graduates such as Thomas Wagner, Alex Hulme and Luka Stepan. “Quite a lot of the younger guys have actually studied under Sam Hecht [of Industrial Facility] at the Royal College of Art, so you can definitely see this relationship of master and student here.”
The most interesting products in the show are the ones that have been specially commissioned to demonstrate how technology is simplifying form. “I wanted to show that this is not a stylistic exercise, hence the investigation of what 3D printing technology can do,” says Coelho.
Nine new products will be on display, some of which are shown on this page. At a first glance they might seem quite ordinary, but many use rapid manufacturing technology in interesting ways. Luka Stepan’s ballpoint pen, for example, is produced in one piece, with no more extra plastic bits or springs. Instead the pen itself is designed as a spring, with a slit on top where the replaceable ink cartridge can be inserted. Oscar Diaz’s keys and key chain are also genially simple, making a permanent scan of your keys and supplying them attached to each other Swiss-army knife style. And Alex Hulme’s self-assembly torch is so simple that a kid could put it together.