ART, DESIGN AND CULTURAL REPORTAGE: NEW YORK — LONDON

David Chipperfield
Form Matters
&
Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams

by Jonathan Lee

25 November 2009

Here are a few images from two exhibitions currently on view at the Design Museum – British architect David Chipperfield’s Form Matters and Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams. Both Chipperfield and Rams are very serious in their approach to design, and both are incredibly formally oriented. I got the sense that this was an intentional scheduling decision on behalf of the museum, and found it interesting to consider and experience both shows sequentially.

Form Matters Entrance

Form Matters Entrance

The Chipperfield show seems to be a more carefully considered show, the space seemed more complex and the flow of the show seems a little more natural. I imagine the second floor gallery easier to program, than the split-up third floor galleries. The show featured video, images, drawings, and most importantly models – almost none of which are depicted here, for whatever reason I only took images of the wall graphics (the strongest part of the visual identity of the show).

Project/Wall Graphics Detail

Project/Wall Graphic Detail

Project/Wall Graphic Detail

Project/Wall Graphic Detail

Wall graphic detail

Project/Wall graphic detail

Less and More felt a lot looser in program. The products were placed in rows on long rectangular pedestals or tables, a few inset in vitrines etc. but I am not sure this was really the best method of display for the work. It did allow for a full view of the prducts in most cases, but the result seemed similar to a sidewalk sale or antique furniture shop. Another side affect of the long tables was the simplicity of movement through the space, the tables acted as long galleys that felt restrictive or too committal. I really enjoyed seeing so much of Dieter Rams’ work, but I felt the show lacked coherency or even a very clear message.

Two interesting moments occur in the show – my favorite was a sort of faux living room filled with Rams’ furniture and products. This was actually the most conventional area of the exhibition design – but it had a nice cumulative effect to be able to see all his pieces next to each other. Finally, there was a case at the very end of the exhibition, with a few pieces from the museums collection that were made by designers (Ives, Morrison, Fukasawa) of later generations whom were “influenced” by Rams’ work. I found this moment weak, and such a missed opportunity. This is precisely the argument the show wanted to make, but perhaps the process of clearing the rights and exploring the idea of inherited language and influence loomed too large a problem to address. Rams’ work of course clean, beautiful and rigorous – either way it was worth seeing first hand.

http://designmuseum.org/

Main Room

Main Room

Panels

Panels

Braun Radio

Braun Radio

P1050134

Turntable

P1050116

Tabletop Design in case with text label

P1050101

Dieter Rams life