words Fatema Ahmed
top image Ashley Bingham
For Clerkenwell Design Week, the London-based designer and curator Oscar Diaz organised an exhibition at Frameless Gallery featuring projects by 11 young designers. The theme of “Political Objects” came to Diaz because he was curious to see if the influence of current political events could be detected in the work of his peers: “In moments like this, people get more active, and there is the idea of design activism.” The projects ranged from David Weatherhead’s water timer (Icon 095), which makes the user think about their water consumption, to Vahakn Matossian’s set of tools for the urban forager and other more experimental items.
Georgi Manassiev’s approach to his Washing Machine project was typical of the work on display at Frameless; he was much more interested in how his product worked in society than in saving anyone any time. The point of the pinewood and MDF machine, he says, is that “you can’t use it alone”. The tumblers where you put your laundry are powered by the action of a seesaw so it’s an inherently social device.
Yuri Suzuki’s Hand Made Geiger Counter was unusual for being a direct (and somewhat literal) response to a recent event. After the earthquake in Japan in March, the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and some distrust of the officially reported levels of radiation, Suzuki thought that individuals should be able to gather data for themselves. And even if Geiger counters weren’t very expensive, they were impossible to find in Japan at the time. It’s still a work in progress, and the challenge is to generate enough electricity to provide an accurate reading: “It’s really difficult to make,” Suzuki says.
Florie Salnot was commissioned by charity Sandblast to work with refugee women in the Saharawi refugee camps in the Sahara desert. Using hot sand, simple hand tools and acrylic gold paint, Salnot came up with a technique to produce jewellery out of the plastic bottles that litter this area. The plan is for the women to sell the results, which are often very intricate, and keep the proceeds.
image Yuri Suzuki
image Florie Salnot