This exhibition is characterised by the diversity of the exhibits, both in the range of the media used as well as the subject matter. How did your design work to synthesise these different elements into an approachable whole?
One of the main themes behind this exhibition is to look into these everyday objects as carefully designed items. This means looking at the production process, materials and tools used. The section panels of each ‘theme’ used a unique material inspired by the objects included in that section. For example, the ‘Solidarity’ panel was printed on cardboard, as used on the several placards on display, while the ‘Direct Action’ panel was printed on Stainless Steel, as used in the various blockade and lock-on items. The materials vary, but they are all cheap, accessible and mundane. We tried using the available material to their best potential, as the designers did with each one of their objects. Line Lund (the V&A’s 3D designer) proposed making the entire exhibition space out of OSB board as it’s a cheap material used in the process of building. We then printed all of the exhibition graphics directly on the OSB board, which helped bring the materials together intro a coherent whole.
One of the greatest difficulties with the works on display in Disobedient Objects would seem to be their contingency on contexts (physical/political/cultural) external partly to each other and especially to the museum itself. Whilst all objects within a design museum exist in something of a vacuum by necessity of their inclusion, that distance seems particularly keen here. Was part of your role to recontextualise this this work in such a way that it would again become comprehensible despite that distance?
It was important to present the context of each object, while keeping in mind that visitors have a short attention span and wouldn’t be encouraged to engage with long pieces of text next to each object. After several discussions between the curators, the 3D designer, the activists/artists themselves and us, we decides to introduce the maker’s statement. This came in the form of a bright yellow label that would sit next to the curator’s grey label. It was a statement made by makers themselves speaking about the history, reason and process of making the object. Although brief, it provides an alternative voice to that of the museums, which we don’t usually we see.