A couple of weeks before Britain put on one of the best Olympic Games in memory I went down to the V&A museum in the heart of London to see their exhibition of British Design (1948-2012). I’ve always loved British culture from literature to films so it was a good excuse to reflect on some of the design history. I also went along just to pop my head outside of the medical world bubble and to remind myself what’s been going on in the rest of the design world.
As a product designer by trade my studies touched on both sides of the fence; from art history to pure maths. Some would say that means I’m a little bit muddled, but I argue that I can appreciate both the advanced engineering of Concord and the flowing aesthetic of an E-type – or perhaps it’s the other way round?
The exhibition was a high speed tour of fashion, images and products over sixty years of British design. Not surprisingly there wasn’t much in the way of medical device design the closest was the reflection of the 90’s summed up by elements from Damien Hirst’s restaurant-cum-art installation ‘Pharmacy’. They could have mentioned the Everest and Jennings folding wheel chair or even Alexander Flemings ‘Penicillin’, but then not many people see these things as great consumer designs, something I totally disagree with – perhaps I’ll investigate that further another time.
Overall the exhibition was interesting and attractive. It touched on eras where there had been so much development and change that it was never going to do justice to all of the topics, but it did give a good sense of the many different facets of British design.
I spent the rest of the day wondering the other halls and rooms of the V&A, which promotes itself as “the world’s greatest museum of art and design” and it’s not far wrong. If you have never been to the V&A its well worth a day out!