Design Factory Brief
STUDENT BRIEF: ‘Designing Identity: Protect, Reflect or Re-shape?’
In an increasingly global community how can design retain a strong cultural
identity? What is British Design and how might Britain look in 20 Years?
These recurring questions play out in the work of Paul Smith and Barber
Osgerby, both of whom are responsible for designing icons and defining the
tricky enigmatic character of British aesthetics.
At a time when the Design Museum is reflecting on, and redesigning, its
own identity in relation to its wider context and imminent relocation, the
focus for this year’s Design Factory aims to explore (and also challenge) the
forms, structures and aesthetics of ‘cultural identity.’
Design Factory takes its inspiration from the multidisciplinary nominations
and exhibits in the exhibition Designs of the Year. This year, the museum
have worked with Designs of the Year 2013 Furniture Nomimees, Azusa
Murakami and Alexander Groves from Studio Swine, whose design practice
spans from designing fashion accessories to making chairs with fisherman
at sea. They are known for creating sustainable design solutions that reflect,
and interact with, the international destinations through which they travel.
Why is the experience of being in various cities across the world so
different? The designed environment contributes enormously to the cultural
identity and sense of place. Consider the art nouveau designs by Hector
Guimard for Paris Metro entrances or the new London bus by Thomas
The focus of this project is to design something with a strong sense of
where it was created. You can design anything from a streetlight to a pair
of trainers but it must have the parallel function of contributing to the
unique and complex identity of Britain.
This is not call to arms to revel in clichés! Be cautious of Union Jacks and
try to see beyond current trends. The objective of this brief is to provoke
thoughtful and surprising designs that create a new vision of the UK.
Brief Part 1: Design Museum research
Visit an exhibition at the Design Museum as a stimulus for your research.
You could approach either:
Paul Smith, Which explores the career of the fashion designer responsible
for reinventing and exporting an ‘English’ style creating a globally
recognised brand. How has Paul Smith defined and interpreted British style
and identity? How does place perform and manifest in his work?
In what way is there work of Barber& Osgerby, the designers of cultural
icons such as the Olympic torch and the £2 coin, British? What is
Britishness; how is it displayed in the show and in the duo’s approach, style
and the engineering of their work?
Brief Part 2: Identify and research materials and processes
Identify and investigate key characteristics and approaches of British design.
In addition to exploring the museum’s temporary exhibitions in Part 1, you
could also make use of Extraordinary Stories, an exhibition of landmarks
from the museum’s permanent collection (on show until January 2015).
Explore the character and identity of an object of your choice alongside the
function or purpose it serves. How did it come into being? Why? For whom?
Your research could form a case study, spanning the concept, aesthetics,
materials and manufacturing of the work, but should also seek to understand
how it has served, performed with, or perhaps been adapted, altered or
rejected by its intended communities.
(Outcome: 1 board of research)
Brief Part 3: Design development
Design something that communicates, provokes reflection on, or tells a
story about a cultural identity. How might Britain look in 20 years time?
Pop music is very good at exporting British culture to a global audience in a
fresh innovative way.