How did they do that?

Aram gallery’s latest exhibition looks at the process behind design

Mischer’Traxler's Reversed Volumes
Mischer’Traxler's Reversed Volumes

A chair constructed entirely of cork, a fruit bowl made with fruit as the main ingredient –  these are among the propositions explored in the latest Prototypes & Experiments exhibition at the Aram Gallery.

Keen to explore the process behind design, the gallery regularly showcases the development of objects and buildings that may or may not have gone on to be realised. This latest crop includes some fascinating projects and gives some insight into how the designers arrived at the finished product.

Those with plenty of explanation are the most engaging. These include Mischer’Traxler’s project to create a fruit bowl out of fruit. Undeterred at finding that organic fruit material was unsuitable for the bowl, the designers instead explored using fruit and vegetables (cabbage and cauliflower are particularly effective) to cast a void that forms the bowl. The results of this Reversed Volumes project, first prototyped in ceramics but eventually accomplished in resin, are pleasing in texture and appearance.

  • Starting work on Reversed Volumes
    Starting work on Reversed Volumes
  • Studio Weave's perforated brass model of Weston Super Mare tourist information centre
    Studio Weave's perforated brass model of Weston Super Mare tourist information centre
  • Prototypes and Experiments at the Aram Gallery.
    Prototypes and Experiments at the Aram Gallery. · Credit: Josh Redman
  • Carl Turner Architects’ models for the Home from Home installation at MUDE in Lisbon
    Carl Turner Architects’ models for the Home from Home installation at MUDE in Lisbon
  • And each part before they were put together
    And each part before they were put together
  • Jule Waibel turning flat sheets into three-dimensions
    Jule Waibel turning flat sheets into three-dimensions
  • Waibel's collection of objects folded from felt
    Waibel's collection of objects folded from felt

Custhom’s New Cross stitched wallpaper is another fascinating exhibit. The designers show their paper designs and stitched prototypes, created using a trusty 1970s embroidery machine alongside the eventual, rather wonderful, digitally-printed interlocking patterns.

Felix de Pass’ bottle design for Sweetdram and PostlerFerguson’s bright idea for the Staeckler shoe hook make the viewer consider the huge amount of thinking behind seemingly mundane objects. There are several well-documented furniture experiments, including Carlos Ortega’s Corkigami cork chair prototype and Pinch’s Nim Table, whose development is particularly well presented. 

  • New Cross by Custhom was tested on its embroidery machine
    New Cross by Custhom was tested on its embroidery machine
  • ...lots of experiments were tried...
    ...lots of experiments were tried...
  • Until New Cross went into production
    Until New Cross went into production

Architecture however doesn’t lend itself so well to this type of exhibition, with exhibits such as Studio Weave’s intriguing perforated brass model of Weston Super Mare tourist information centre leaving the viewer wishing for more insight into the design process.  Carl Turner Architects’ models for the Home from Home installation at MUDE in Lisbon have an appealing doll’s house quality and I’d have loved to see more photographs or film footage of the real thing alongside this earlier design development.

There’s plenty here to engage and interest. Fewer exhibits, shown in more detail, would be even better.

Prototypes & Experiments VIII, until 16 January, The Aram Gallery, 110 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5SG