From Sketch to Product (2009 – 2011)

Craft theorist and historian Glenn Adamson examined the preparatory dimension of design, showing how drawings, models, and prototypes affect the qualities of finished products. Many examples are drawn from the V&A’s permanent collection and exhibition programme.

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Designing Postmodernism, Part 8: Coup de Grace

Postmodernism opens in one short week and we’ve now finalized the exhibition, ready for press previews. I thought I’d write one last post on the exhibition-making process, focusing on the installation of the objects themselves. This may seem like the most straightforward aspect of the project – just set the chairs on plinths, hang the […]

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Designing Postmodernism, Part 7: The Build

Less than a month now ’til opening, and the Postmodernism exhibition is moving rapidly from ‘sketch’ to ‘product’. The past two weeks have been devoted to what we call ‘the build,’ that is, the construction of the cases, platforms, walls, and scenographic elements for the show. At the end of this process we’ll be ready […]

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Designing Postmodernism, Part 6: Mannequins

OK, here’s a seriously cool design process for you: putting together the mannequins for the display of 1980s fashion. With designers like Vivienne Westwood, Rei Kawakubo, and Karl Lagerfeld included alongside pop stars like Devo, David Byrne, and Annie Lennox, and choreographers like Michael Clark, Kazuo Ohno, and Karole Armitage, costume is definitely going to be a highlight of the Postmodernism project.

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Designing Postmodernism, Part 5: Birth of a Label

I know I've already posted about the graphic design for our Postmodernism show, but we've just finished the label design for the exhibition and there's a new example of "sketch to product" process that is just too good to pass up. It comes courtesy of Jason Wolfe, one of the designers at APFEL (who are doing all the graphics for the show).

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Paper Architecture

Architects have been drawing for a long time, often without much hope that their ideas will be realized. Some of the most famous images from the history of discipline, like the Cenotaph (or death monument) for the astronomer Newton designed by Étienne-Louis Boullée, would have been impossible to construct even if the budget had been forthcoming.

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John Abbott: Portrait of a Plasterworker

This guest post has been contributed by Jenny Saunt, a recent graduate of the V&A/RCA Course in the History of Design.

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Playing God: architects and railway models

This guest post has been contributed by Stephen Knott, a PhD student at the Royal College of Art. Find his own blog here.

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Designing Postmodernism, Part 4: Lighting and AV

There are many ways to look at an exhibition. For curators like me and my colleague Jane Pavitt, it's mainly a matter of objects, and the narrative we create around them. For our 3D designers Carmody Groarke, it's about a sequence of spatial experiences, each with its own character.

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Designing Postmodernism, Part 3: Graphics

Here's something I've learned while working on the upcoming Postmodernism show at the V&A: there are rough sketches; there are more accurate renderings; there are still more exact production drawings; and then there is graphic design. In no other field of design practice does the preparatory study approximate its finished product so closely, especially when the designer is working digitally. As a result, graphics are an art form calling for precision and intense attention. This means that graphic designers produce many, many preparatory studies, and they care about them… a lot. Of the 36 typefaces above, all of which have …

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Designing Postmodernism, Part 2: The Model

An exhibition is a three-dimensional experience, so despite all the help that drawings can provide – as discussed in the last post – sometimes what you really need is a model. This means you need a completely different set of skills, and materials. Not pen and paper, but plastic and glue. Fortunately our designers for the Postmodernism exhibition have one staff member who is an outstanding model-maker, as well as a skilled designer: Ana Maria Ferreira. Before working at Carmody Groarke, Ana was trained as an architect in Portugal, at the Universidade de Coimbra. She learned her model-making skills there. …

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