Review: New Italian Design Exhibition


New Italian DesignFor the month of October the V&A Lookout has been turned into an eclectic shrine to elegance and creativity.

The Triennale Museum, the first museum of Italian design, has organized a local variant on the travelling exhibition which enjoyed great success in Madrid (2007), Istanbul (2010), San Francisco and Chile (2013).

The work of 133 young designers is presented at The Lookout either as free standing / hung objects or on a series of giant sushi restaurant-like conveyer belts that silently deliver an almost phantasmagorical range of artifacts from the far reaches of the imagination to the bewildered audience.  The objects on the plates that pass so silently exude allure and a mischievous seduction through their strange glories, each item being so uniquely novel in its function, form and texture.  The combined experience has a surreal intimacy akin to viewing strange marine life from dreamy dark depths in the glow of a neon lamp.

The term “Spirit of Innovation” is an academically sterile skin that pales in the full glare of its many manifestations as presented at The Lookout.  Camp, chic and occasionally with its tongue firmly in its cheek the exhibition is a staggering array of neon pink purses, chopsticks fused with forks, a toothbrush ring, magazine and cd covers, and sponge hand bags in an almost hallucinogenic spiral of colours that range from the earthly to the lurid.

A fusion of environmental conscience with humorous and gifted bravado, many of the objects on exhibition are prototypes, winking up from the rotating belt for the attention of a sponsor.  There are many shades of genius paraded here, from the numerical cube wall clock that can be arranged and attached as the mood of the owner dictates, to the glass dumbbell – a two roomed aquarium condo for the modern fish.

New Italian DesignOthers have breached the wallflower phase and have been afforded the gift of being mass produced. The excruciatingly pink silicon sieve and the three wheeled motorcycle are examples of those items that have been fortunate enough to harness financial support.

The exhibition is a wondrous foray into the creative Disneyland of the mind, but without the informed eloquence of the one of the three curators in attendance, the swirl of the alien and undefined could prove to be a perplexing outing for the majority of people.

Ironically, I was informed a very low percentage of the audience actually seeks out the illumination of the Guides, forsaking the punch line of many of the tactile and visual anecdotes on display.

Jaroslav Kalac

The New Italian Design Exhibition runs at The Lookout, V&A Waterfront, 5 to 25 October 2014.

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