A series of installations at the Platform gallery reveal the inspirations behind designs by Simon Pengelly, Tord Boontje, Claire Norcross and others
To celebrate its 50th birthday, retailer Habitat is hosting a multi-sensory, immersive exhibition during London Design Festival that reveals the ideas that inspire its designers.
The Platform Gallery on King’s Road in west London has been transformed into a winding, darkened maze of installations that reveal the thinking behind new works by Tord Boontje, Claire Norcross, Simon Pengelly, Sarah Campbell, Aaron Probyn and Shin Azumi.
We spoke to curator Polly Dickens.
Tell us a bit about the thinking behind the exhibition
The idea was born when I was talking to the designers involved about their original inspiration for their products. I was struck by the variety of topics each had drawn on and surprised at some of the origins of the designs. I thought it could be interesting to show these in a visual sense, bring to life the ideas that lead to the design you see in front of you. I wanted visitors to immediately understand where these products had come from and what they were about. A sense of pleasurable realisation – an “I get it” moment – adds whole new meaning to the product.
Do you think that an interesting story adds to our appreciation of a designed object?
I think a story helps people to get excited about design, to want to talk about it and discuss it. It helps to bring a design to a personal level and adds new meaning. For example Simon Pengelly’s Wing table was inspired by the wings of butterflies and I think when you see the product after knowing this, you will appreciate the design much more.
I wanted visitors to be enclosed and immersed in each designer’s inspiration – as if they were in the designers’ minds. London Design Festival’s theme this year is about exploration and “mazes” and we wanted to reflect this in the show, with a maze-like structure for visitors to explore.
I asked each designer to create a visual presentation of their inspiration, from which we could build a physical representation. We’ve worked very closely with the designers throughout the whole project, from concept sketches right through to final product and the exhibition itself.
What is your favourite installation or item on display?
If I had to choose one, I would say that I was transfixed by the level of Claire Norcross’ research into crystals that inspired her new Crystalline chandelier. The way she explored crystals in minute detail was extraordinary and it was wonderful to follow her photographic trail from the geological archives at Manchester Museum to the translation into the actual product we are launching at London Design Festival.