Yearly Archives: 2016

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RCA 16: Design Products MA

The Royal College of Art presents the next generation of creative talent from its MA degree course in Design Products. Artsthread went along to bring you some of the highlights.

The exhibition displayed a broad range of work as the students reflect on the relationship between contemporary design and the challenges that real-world issues bring.


Jan Libera

Jan Libera’s City Trailer for London is a simple cargo trailer borne out of the realisation that many city car journeys, which relate to the transport of goods, could be made by cargo bikes. Libera has made his trailer compatible with the Santander Cycle docking stations around the capital. The aim would be to improve the quality of life within large cities by reducing congestion and both noise and air pollution.


Thomas Leech

Shoey Shoes is an example of how waste from one industry could be engineered to create a useful product within another. Thomas Leech has looked at using leather off-cuts from the fashion industry to develop a range of children’s shoes; effectively seeking to solve one problem, waste materials from one industry, to solve another. The shoes are manufactured for disassembly so that they can be easily recycled and re-used.


Fiona O’Leary

Spector by Fiona O’Leary is a fabulous idea and could be, and hopefully will be, an essential tool for designers or in fact anyone looking to capture inspiration instantly. The Spector is able to translate printed fonts and colours into digital information and send this data immediately to your computer via Bluetooth. So if you see a typeface you like, or a colour you fancy then Spector, with one click of a button, will collect and transfer the data linking with programmes such as InDesign, Pages and Word.



Jane Kim

Jane Kim investigates the way cutlery design varies within different cultures and attitudes towards eating and dining. Exploration of Cutlery, Kim’s project, is an attempt to redesign cutlery whilst looking at these attitudes. The prototypes include utensils produced from Sycamore, 3D printed samples and nickel plated cutlery.


Karen Hu

We were also delighted with Karen Hu’s Teawith – Electric Kettle and Feast – Portable Cooker.


Image credits for main image: Clockwise from top left: Jan Libera, Jane Kim,  Thomas Leech, Fiona O’Leary, Karen Hu.

This review was first published for Arts Thread 19th July 2016


LCC 16: Graphic and Media Design BA Hons

The London College of Communication presents the next generation of creative talent from its BA (Hons) course in Graphic and Media Design. Arts Thread went along and bring you some of the highlights.

The exhibition displayed a broad range of print & digital media including poster design, typography and information diagrams.



Ben Leonard

Ben Leonard’s monospaced typeface Fraction Mono is a delight. Created on three heights, condensed, regular and extended, with each doubling in size. The digital typeface was then made into 270 letterpress block letters and used to print posters and other media.



Joey Lim

Four of Samuel Beckett plays is the inspiration behind a series of typography based posters designed by Joey Lim. The posters are deliberately confusing in their composition to replicate Beckett’s notion of theatrical absurdity. There is also a subtle screen vignette in the background that grabs the eye.



John Philip Sage

John Philip Sage’s project on sound symbolism looked at transferring language into patterns of shapes and colours. The resulting posters are a riot of colour, shape and design displaying the differences between the three mother tongues (Basque, Spanish and English) spoken by Sage.



Beth Johnson

Brutal Types by Beth Johnson explores the building blocks of Brutalist architecture. The images displayed are 3D rendered letterforms that Johnson has taken from unique and iconic shapes within this architectural style.


Image credits for main image: Clockwise from top left: Ben Leonard, Joey Lim, John Philip Sage, Ben Leonard, Beth Johnson


This review was first published for Arts Thread 16th July 2016


Olivetti: Beyond Form & Function

Olivetti: Beyond Form and Function is the latest exhibition to open at the ICA. Arts Thread went along to find out more.


One of the first impressions to greet you, as you enter the Fox Reading Room, is the colour and vibrancy of this intimate look at the post-war rise of Olivetti. Delightfully curated by Juliette Desorgues and in collaboration with Associazione Archivio Storico Olivetti, Ivrea – Italy, the exhibition explores how Olivetti’s philosophy to innovative design did not stop with the products alone but continued through to extremely inventive communications demonstrated by their approach to advertising, promotion, architecture and interior design.


On display are early models of Olivetti typewriters including a 1963 Lettera 32 in salmon pink, designed by Marcello Nizzoli and the Valentine designed in 1969. Even looking through today’s 21st Century eyes the Valentine, in particular, has the aura of the ‘must have’ tech product of its day.


But what really excites in this exhibition is the graphic design, artwork and architectural images on display.


Olivetti created a graphic design department in 1937, headed by Giovanni Pintori, with the task of blending product design with advertising and promotional campaigns. As a result we are treated to Olivetti posters, designed by Pintori and Herbert Bayer in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, which deliberately overlook the use of product shots in favour of graphics, typography and colour. These are works of art but it still must have been a brave move to produce marketing posters that display no pictorial reference to the product you are selling.


This attitude toward creative marketing is also borne out in the advertising campaigns designed by Pintori. These show a bold use of primary colour and graphics with the products themselves often shown in black and white and quite small in proportion to the size of the advert. We were particularly struck by the advertising for the Divisumma 24, which demonstrates Pintori’s interest in ancient symbols.


Olivetti’s philosophy to innovation can also be seen in the showrooms created during this post-war period. The New York showroom, opened in 1954 and designed by Italian firm BBPR, was intentionally devised to be a striking piece of architecture and interior design. The showroom included a large moving display wheel, pink and green marble, murals and demonstration machines with which the passer-by could interact.


The exhibition also includes an Educators Tour, Gallery Tour and panel discussions and is part of the London Festival of Architecture 2016. For further details please visit


The exhibition runs until 17th July 2016


Image credits: Photography ICA


This review was first published for Arts Thread 27th May 2016

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