With the move to Battersea more or less complete, SHOW RCA has become a vast, sprawling event. 4 buildings in Battersea and 2 in Kensington Gore means you need your walking shoes on. The new Dyson Building is an impressive space, yet strangely empty, while the Design Products area felt a little hidden and cramped. There seemed to be several strange curatorial decisions with this years show, but perhaps that is simply a case of not being used to all this new space. Here are our Top 5 (in no particular order) from across the 2 venues:
1 Sam Weller Holdfast
Part of the team that made their own money in Milan, Sam Weller presented his own project Holdfast as part of Design Products. Inspired by the humble (but handy) workbench clamp, the metal elements for Holdfast are produced on a computer controlled machine and this single component can be used to form bookshelves, tables or stools.
2 Anton Alvarez The Art of Thread Wrapping
Using his slightly odd but pleasingly home-made Thread Wrapping Machine, Anton Alvarez presented a whole series of objects, from stools, to benches to lights, all held together purely by glue coated thread. Each piece is unique as a result, a craft aesthetic with an industrial method.
3 Évelie Moulia Untitled
4 Jon Fraser WaterBuoy
Innovation Design Engineering projects had a decidedly social feel - simple ways to improve our communities and society. WaterBuoy is incredibly easy to install and communicates in a very simple, colourful way through "Droplets" how much water a household is consuming (and wasting!). Even though it may feel like it never stops raining, water is a scarce commodity and needs to be used with caution. WaterBuoy acts as a reminder each time we fill the kettle or run the washing machine and was a worthy winner of the Dyson Award.
Apart from their own projects, Stuart White and David Gibson collaborated on Sharing Bin, a closed network, ideal for creative places like art schools, where people can share the files in their computer's recycle bin. the idea is to encourage recycling and intellectual sharing. The item you have binned may not be the thing you needed, or may be obsolete in your work, but could be just the thing for someone else to spark their creativity. One mans rubbish is another mans gold.
There was quite a strong social and even political focus in this years show, with an impromptu cafe set up in Kensington where people could sit, chat and share ideas or listen to talks and also a BUY/TRADE shop, where graduates accepted offers in the form of money or services for their work. A piece of art or design in exchange for some advice on setting up your own practise perhaps?
The political dimension came from Minjae Huh and the Future Without PSW project, protesting the governments decision to scrap Post-Study Work visas, which in effect means all students, who will have paid substantial fees to study in the UK, have to leave within 2 months of graduating. To support the protest, Minjae kindly pre-printed postcards addressed to Damian Green MP. Are we seeing the start of a new overt political activism in our colleges?