Surreal Consequences at Design Exquis


Above: Comparing the finds. From left: Nagoire Light Box by Georg Œhler; Google Image search result, Venus of Google by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez

Feathers, Venus, Edison screw plugs and a breathing lamp. This is what you get if you play an elaborate game of ‘Exquisite Corpse’ with a group of designers. Despoke saw the Design Exquis Exhibition at Clerkenwell Design Week where we caught up with a couple of the designers.

Surrealist artists adopted the game exquisite corpse, also known as consequences  – where one person writes a sentence, which is then continued unseen by the next person to create a surreal and often confusing story – and applied it to art.


Above: Breathe by Plant and Moss

For this second installment of Design Exquis, four designers were selected to produce a response to an object: the first object is given to the first designers and they have one month to come up with and make a piece that responds to it. The resulting design is given to the next designer as inspiration and so forth.

Plant & Moss were the first designers in this game of exquisite corpse. Presented with a stethoscope, the designers created a lamp, Breathe, inspired by lungs and respiration.


Above: Sound Bulb by Dominic Wilcox

Designer Dominic Wilcox received Breathe and was interested in the lighting element of the design. He decided to question why we always use lights in light sockets: “It’s just an electrical connection, so in theory you could put anything in there”, Wilcox told Despoke.


Above: Sound Bulb by Dominic Wilcox

The designer professed he never really used his ceiling fitting, describing it as “dead space”, so he decided to create a radio that could plug into the ceiling.  The resulting piece, Sound Bulbs, are what Wilcox describes as “1880s meets 1980s”. A traditional cherub lamp has been altered to include an ‘80s ghetto blaster screwed into the light fitting, which was playing Phil Collins at the time we visited.


Above: Nagoire Light Box (closed) by Georg Œhler

Interior Designer, Georg Œhler, received a prototype of one of Dominic Wilcox’s Sound Bulbs: a vintage radio that can be screwed into a ceiling fitting. Despoke asked Œhler what he thought upon receiving the object: “What is inside if there is a light socket on the outside?” he told us.

Œhler took this idea and created a very robust looking oak box, the Nagoire Light Box “that would look very different from the outside and have a surprise inside”. The surprise on the inside of the box is that when you open it you are faced with a display of glowing nagoire goose feathers.


Above: Nagoire Light Box (open) by Georg Œhler

Œhler told Despoke that the process really provided the designer “an insight in the way you work yourself” and a better understanding “how one idea goes to another”. The long form of the box is a direct result of Œhler’s design process, as he originally intended to use fluorescent tubes.


Above: Venus of Google transform sequence by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez

Designer Matthew Plummer-Fernandez was tasked with creating the final design in the Design Exquis series. The Venus of Google was creating using computer software algorithms and 3D printing to create the final form, which resembles a nude woman.

Plummer-Fernandez reached this design by using Google Image search to see what images it returned when he added a photograph of Œhler’s Light Box. The designer then created and manipulated a three-dimensional model based on the image of a woman that was brought up in response to his search, and used 3D printing to display the final form in the exhibition.


Above: Venus of Google by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez

This project certainly challenged the designers who only had one month to work on their object.  From the original stethoscope, chosen for its ubiquity and visceral qualities, the series of responses appear to have come full circle: from measuring sound, to light, to sound light, to internal environments and back to the body, which can could studied with a stethoscope.

We can’t wait to see what Design Exquis has in store for its next installment during the London Design Festival 2013 in September at the Roca London Gallery.

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