This year was a little different for the departments London Design Trip. An earlier point in the school year, and two months after the brand new Design Museum has opened its doors in Kensington.
The trip over Tower Bridge was strangely missed, and it's fair to say the old building will always have an important part to play in the Design Museum’s story, but the new building is a masterpiece. Firstly, it's not really a “new” building at all. It's a retrofit and restoration of an existing space, with rejuvenated residential blocks as part of the project as well. Many years in the making, this grand new, accessible space gives the discipline of design a real boost, and the exhibitions play a very important role in this.
Pupils were first directed to the permanent (and free) exhibition: Designer Maker User. This exhibition curates some of the museum’s most iconic permanent collection pieces in a new way. Showcasing their stories from three different perspectives: from how the designer conceived the ideas, through to details of the manufacture of well known designs, through to how the user views everyday products, and how important they are to our every day life. It is the department’s view that everything in this display will be of huge value to the pupils’ exam studies, and proved even teachers don't know everything: one of the best bits for Miss Hill was discovering that her favourite “love to hate” Juicy Salif lemon squeezer is die cast in a three part mould, not the traditional two. (Yes, GLH is fully aware and proud of her DT geek tendencies!. It was also great to see other design classics displayed in such an engaging way. It will certainly provide much discussion and reference material as we start to hit the revision periods].
Alongside Designer Maker User was a small temporary exhibition that was a surprising hit with the Sixth Form. It explored (find out name) the relationship between design and an ageing population, and the imaginative concepts that this subject matter draws from designers. Miss Hill enjoyed a fantastic discussion with some of the L6 and U6 boys on “what age is old age?”. The museum had set up an interactive board to display visitors responses, and the boys wasted no time in contributing with insightful statements such as “old age is a state of mind” and “its important to still feel useful in old age.”. An impressively mature response from our students.
The final exhibition to be viewed by the group was Beazley Design of the Year Awards; showcasing conceptual and realised ideas across a range of design industry areas. This was a real opportunity to for those students interested in a career in design to really see the breadth and imagination of the solutions presented by both established and new designers. Some of the students were particularly intrigued by the running trainers on display made from recycling fishing line, alongside a flashing bike helmet to improve cyclist safety. Pertinent to events in the world; there was even a full scale mock up of a refugee shelter on display. Luxury and need, all in one exhibition.
More time was available to us this year, because of the Design Museum’s move. It was a short 20 minute walk to the V&A, and some of the pupils got a little star struck along the way when they met the actor Andrew Lincoln, (Love Actually, The Walking Dead); who was kind enough to stop for a couple of photos with the pupil! (We seem to spot someone every year, be it reality TV star or royalty!)
On arrival at Exhibition Road, pupils were given time to walk round and absorb a huge range of exhibitions in the V&A, including the 20th Century Furniture gallery. Some of the pupils also managed to find the modern silver jewellery display tucked away on the third floor, which contained some stunningly impressive pieces of work.
Always a hugely beneficial day for the Sixth Firm and the Design Department, after some free time around Knightsbridge, it was time to return to Repton, a little more enriched for what they had seen during the day.
Arkwright Announcement: Following the two Arkwright awards earlier in the year, we are delighted to announce that Celia Li (L6A) has also received her prestigious Arkwright Scholarship. Well deserved and congratulations Celia!