For 2013 four designers - Adam Nathaniel Furman, Eunhee Jo, Thomas Thwaites and Chloe Meineck - will embark upon residencies at the museum, all exploring the theme of identity.
The programme, now in its sixth year invites designers at an early stage of their career to explore a designated theme, before presenting the results of their research in an exhibition at the museum. Designers who have previously come through the scheme include Asif Khan, Simon Hasan and Bethan Laura Wood.
Below, this year's designers explain their projects in their own words.
Adam Nathaniel Furman
Architectural Association, 2009
I'm making a cabinet of curiosities filled with newly-produced products, mostly made using 3D printing. The idea was to use the most ubiquitous form of mass production, but I have a personal passion for ceramics, so I’m going to try and combine the two.
These technologies are very accessible to designers nowadays, who can quite rapidly produce objects that relate to them at any one given moment. Combined together, those objects speak about a designer's identity over time. So I'm creating a sped-up timeline for a fictional character, told through objects that have come about through their interactions with pop culture and new technologies. It’s a contemporary museum of creativity for a particular individual.
Adam's project can be followed here
RCA/Imperial College, 2012
I’d like to recreate the role of surfaces in our everyday lives, giving them functions that enable them to become part of a product or an environment. These will be executed through continuous experiments exploring how surfaces behave.
The surfaces will become a function, so say if I’m looking at interfaces like buttons, then that will be recreated as a surface that will be able to control a function. For example, if you look at the iPod reel compared to its push button, you can see that they function differently. I’m trying to explore that interaction within the surfaces that people engage with.
This residency is an extension of developing my graduation project from the RCA, where I developed a tangible interface for a Hi-Fi audio system, with a tactile user interface made out of fabric. I’m trying to develop this in new directions with the Design Museum residency.
I looked at the brief and thought that one of the things about identity is that people often want to change it. If you type in “I want to” in Google, autocomplete comes up with a list of “I want to be happy,” “I want to be slim, “I want to be rich.” We’re trying to change aspects of our lives all the time and technology is being employed to do that. I’m looking at the darker side of technology.
I’m looking at the intersection of how technology changes us and how we might use it to change ourselves. The outcome will be objects intended to help you change part of your identity. There are already things like the Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand that do that for fitness, so I'm looking at what other objects there could be like that. It’s an interesting time for technology. We’re entering into more reciprocal relationships with objects.
Brighton University, 2012
I'm working on a memory box. I’ve already developed the technology-side of it during a three-month residency with the Crafts Council. In this new residency at the Design Museum, I’m exploring a new direction and seeing how I can make it into a product.
Currently, the way it works is that you’ve got a box and some stickers with RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tags, the technology used in Oyster cards. You then stick the tags to objects that you already have that represent someone in your family or an important story to your life. There's a reader inside the box so that when a particular object comes near, it sets off a particular piece of music.
It relates to the theme of identity because it’s all about confused identities. When you have dementia, you get lost in your own world. My project aims to trigger familiar music, familiar memories, and familiar stories. The idea is to support someone’s identity, teasing out who they used to be.