Digital crystal: The future of memory

An exhibition at the Design Museum in London is challenging contemporary designers to explore – in the medium of crystal – the future of memory in our fast-developing digital age. The premise of Digital Crystal: Swarovski at the Design Museum is to create a debate around the changing nature of our relationship with objects over time.

‘With the demise of the analogue era our relationship and connection with personal memory, photographs, diaries, letters, time and ephemera is changing,’ explains the museum’s director Deyan Sudjic.

‘Digital Crystal questions our relationship with the changing world. It seems all too easy to lose connection with the tangible and the real, as we move ever faster through a digital age where memory and the personal possessions we once held so highly are now online, or gone in an instant.’

Ron Arad, Yves Béhar, Maarten Baas, Troika and Fredrikson Stallard are amongst the 15 designers who have worked alongside Swarovski to create works that explores some of these notions. They feature alongside a select number of updated works from the Swarovski archives.

The public is invited to share memories and be a part of the exhibition by tweeting or texting Ron Arad’s installation, Lolita, from anywhere in the world – sending messages that travel around the crystal using complex LED technology.

Digital Crystal: Swarovski at the Design Museum from 5 September 2012 – 13 January 2013

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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Dixon, Hadid, Béhar, Baccarat, Aston Martin at Milan

The global design community descended on Milan last month to celebrate creativity as established and new voices presented their latest innovations at the coveted Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the international furniture fair.

We have reported on some of the highlights including Zaha Hadid and Mini in Mutant Architecture & Design, Royal College of Art’s Intent and BMW, Flos and Paul Cocksedge’s Sestoseno. Here are some of the best of the rest.

Hadid’s polished aluminium Z-Chair, 24 of which have been created in collaboration with small Italian firm Sawaya & Moroni, is bold and sculptural and very much representative of the architect’s style.

Other notable highlights included another British designer Tom Dixon’s Multiplex (pictured), a pop-up viewing theatre, broadcasting centre, restaurant, shop and gallery – based on his London HQ – displaying a collection of lighting and furniture by the British designer.

The exhibit included a simple sturdy chair by the name of Cast whose disassembled parts are shipped in a small flat pack, and Etch, a series of digitally manufactured lampshades.

Dixon also collaborated with luxury maker of cars Aston Martin to create a bespoke Cygnet – the firm’s new small city car – in the designer’s signature Fluoro Orange colour as part of the Wallpaper* Handmade Edition.

Additionally, Aston Martin presented its own range of home furnishing that echo the marque’s lean and elegant cars. Designed by Mirko Tattarini and Emanuele Canova, and manufactured by Formitalia, the sofa and chaise longue are finished in leather, wood, carbon fibre and steel – materials that form the interior of these luxury cars.

Orbital (pictured) is a table designed by Italian consultant Pininfarina, renowned for its work with the likes of Ferrari and Maserati. Here the firm worked in collaboration with technical studio Calligaris to developed an ingenious opening mechanism for this table that, once opened, can accommodate ten seats.

Inspired by Disney’s Tron: Legacy Italian furniture firm Cappellini exhibited an impressive range that includes an armchair by the same name interpreting the jagged angular landscape of the film’s electronic interior world.

On the installation side, Studio Giangaleazzo Visconti and Italian digital firm Your Voice presented a surreal one called In-pulse (pictured). Created by artist and designer Rolf Sachs, the sensory work is inspired by the motion and sound of breathing, and the beating of the human heart.

The collection of individually crafted objects – with names like ‘watch this pace’, ‘light breath’ and ‘on the pulse’ – can form part of your everyday environment yet will continually surprise and awaken the viewers’ senses. They certainly delivered on the latter front.

Another interesting sensory experience came via JamScape (pictured) and its audio experiment in the emerging Ventura Lambrate design district. Developed in partnership with industrial designer Yves Béhar and his creative agency Fuseproject and Dezeen, the installation centres on the idea of liberating and unleashing sound.

The mood was a little more decadent over at Palazzo Morando and French lighting firm Baccarat‘s exhibit. Highlights is a rather beautiful collection of lights designed in collaboration with a host of international stars that include Philippe Starck, Jaime Hayon, Eriko Horiki, Yann Kersalé, Arik Levy, Michele de Lucchi and Moatti & Rivière.

The designers have manipulated LEDs to create lights that range from contemporary reinterpretations of Baccarat’s classic chandeliers to complete free-ranging design variations. Japanese designer Horiki (pictured), for instance, worked with washi paper, studded with crystals and LEDs. The exhibit sure added a touch of glamour to the show.

Read our other reviews from the show: Mutant Architecture & Design, Royal College of Art’s Intent and BMW, Flos and Paul Cocksedge’s Sestoseno.

See an interview with designer Yves Béhar on JamScape in collaboration with Dezeen.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

All rights and labelled images are covered by ©