The building which Central Saint Martins calls home was erected in 1852 as store for grain arriving from Lincolnshire and awaiting its further distribution to London’s bakers.
Was, if you like, a transfer point, a hub, a location where general ideas became specific solutions, a place industry and trade called upon when needing raw materials for their latest project, a source for those whose work helped support and nourish the populace, a central institution in the development of the city and one, thereby, directly related to the immediate needs and interests of society.
We’re sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, somewhere, but where…….? Would a visit to the 2018 Central Saint Martins’ Degree Show help us locate it…….?
Tracing its history back to 1899 the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design a.k.a The Cass has an established place in the (hi)story of English design, for all in woodcraft based design including toys, music instruments and furniture.
But as we all know a long history and illustrious alumni are poor hooks on which to hang the future of an institution, much more robust are the current staff, students and their work.
The 2018 Cass Summer Show allowed some insights into the contemporary Cass……
On our recent #campustour we didn’t only view the students’ works, and chat to students about their works, we also spoke to members of the design schools’ teaching staff about their motivations, methods, experiences and views on contemporary design eduction.
Ultimately if you want to understand contemporary design education, you have to understand contemporary design educators.
Whereby one of the peculiarities of design eduction is that any given school’s staff is a mix of full time staff members and practising designers who teach selected courses, or in the case of designer Peter Marigold a whole Studio, the central teaching concept at the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, or the Cass London as it more familiarly known.
As an institution London’s Royal Albert Hall teaches us that regardless how illustrious and prestigious your history may be, you can never rest on your laurels, you are only ever as relevant and interesting as your next programme, as your next soloist..
With the 2017 Graduate Show the Royal Albert Hall’s next door neighbour, the equally illustrious and prestigious, Royal College of Art unveiled its 2017 programme and 2017 soloists.
But would there be a standing ovation…
Sited in the gentile calm of Pimlico, Chelsea College of Arts sits between the independent free-thinking of the Tate Britain, the original Tate with its collection of British and international art from 1500 until today, and the state control and surveillance of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, in their unobtrusive bunker on the opposite bank of the Thames
But where would the conformity/rebellion equilibrium be found amongst the current crop of Chelsea students…….
Few materials can have claimed to have influenced architecture and design in quite the way plywood has.
And thereby remained as anonymous as plywood, easily overlooked in public and barely researched in an academic context as it is.
With the exhibition Plywood: Material of the Modern World, the V&A Museum London aim to redress both.
The Cass is situated in London’s Whitechapel, not far from the East London Mosque and in an area long a centre of London’s Muslim community. The day we visited the Cass Summer Show it was Eid al-Fitr, a festival of family, feasts and finery. The narrow streets of Whitechapel awash with smartly attired, good humoured locals, or possibly just smartly attired locals high on sugar, for Eid al-Fitr is also a festival of sweetness at the end of Ramadan.
Cakes and sweets as far as the eye could see. And far, far beyond.
But would we find any bonbons in the Cass Summer Show…….
“What are you going to do this summer, Amory?”, Tom D’Invilliers asks of Amory Blaine in F Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise.
“Don’t ask me”, comes the somewhat languid reply, “same old things, I suppose. A month or two in Lake Geneva — I’m counting on you to be there in July, you know — then there’ll be Minneapolis, and that means hundreds of summer hops, parlor-snaking, getting bored…..”
Sorry Amory, but you’ll have to survive the magnificence of Lake Geneva on your own, would have been our response. We’ve got new design and architecture exhibitions in London, Berlin, New York and Holon to visit!
But we’ll definitely catch up with you afterwards in Minneapolis for a bit hopping and parlor-snaking…….
Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue…..
Life is so simple as a child.
Yet whereas in almost all other respects the progression to adulthood is one of simplicity to complexity, in terms of our understanding of colour we never lose our inner child.
With the exhibition Breathing Colour at the Design Museum London the Dutch designer Hella Jongerius encourages us to sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow new.
She came from Greece, had a thirst for knowledge, studied sculpture at St Martins College and, according to Jarvis Cocker, had no understanding of the brutal realities of late 1980s British society.
Thirsty to know if the 2017 Central St Martins design graduates were more grounded in their contemporary reality, our 2017 #campustour headed to North London….
On May 1st 1851 Queen Victoria opened The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park London: the first “World’s Fair”, an event which celebrated the advances of the industrial age, and whose influence on industry, engineering, science, architecture and society was to resonate globally for decades, acting as it did as the motor for the quickening technological advances of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. While the profit generated from the 6 million visitors allowed for the construction of London’s Science Museum, Natural History Museum and neighbouring Victoria and Albert Museum.
If any of the numerous architecture and design exhibitions opening globally in May 2017 will become quite so pivotal remains to be seen. Our top five can be found in Hamburg, Atlanta, Amsterdam, London and Stuttgart.
Five recommendations for new architecture and design exhibitions opening in December 2016, featuring shows in Copenhagen, Weimar, Nürnberg, London and Munich
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