Time Machines

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Daniel Weil and the Art of Design

This summer the Design Museum is hosting an exhibition of work by renowned designer, Royal College of Art graduate and former Professor of Industrial Design, Daniel Weil.

Celebrating Weil’s 20 years as a partner at design firm Pentagram and 35 years within the design industry,Time Machines: Daniel Weil and the Art of Design aims to explore the increasingly porous relationship between fine art and design.

The exhibition is curated by Martina Margetts, RCA Senior Tutor in Critical & Historical Studies, who was inspired by looking at Weil’s folio of A5 sketchbooks, 65 of which are on show.

These sketchbooks, surrounded by objects and his important collections of ephemera, form the spine of the exhibition, revealing the holistic way Weil interprets sources, selects projects and creates form combining art, design and architecture.

Over 40 design objects include: the 2013 World Championship chess set; award-winning baby-feeding bottles; the iconic Bag Radio, made while Weil was a student at the RCA at the start of the 1980s; and a new series of clocks designed especially for the exhibition.

Weil worked with Margetts on the architectural layout of the show, which sees the Design Museum open out its river-facing windows. This is in keeping with Weil’s ethos of ‘openness’, as is the publication, which – with the aim of creating a democratic legacy of the exhibition – is free to all visitors.

‘Seeing Daniel’s sketchbooks made me realise how thoughtful he was about creativity – this isn’t a designer who takes ideas off the peg, they come from within a range of experiences and understanding of the culture around him. With the baby bottle he started looking at bottles going back to the 1950s, and childcare, and how one wants to enhance the relationship between baby and parents and so on, it’s all very much about our culture,’ Margetts said.

‘Daniel wants to create surprising, heightened moments within our lives using objects as catalysts. It’s a moment of saying, “You don’t have to take these things for granted”, because if he rethinks and presents these things, the clocks or radio for example, in a different way it will make people rethink their everyday lives. As a Professor at the RCA Daniel opened up a whole new way of speculative and experimental thinking, which asks design what can we bring to our experience of daily life, what emotions we can touch on. The seeds of Weil’s practice are still there for all to see at the College. It is thinking that is experimental but critical, and I wanted to celebrate that in this exhibition,’ she added.

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