Today was the third week of this collaborative project between students from the Information Experience Design (IED) and History of Design (HoD) MA courses at the Royal College of Arts and visit1862. Bringing designers and historians together to discuss how expos might develop in the future, this project is demonstrating what design history is by taking it beyond the confines of studies of particular historical moments and demonstrating what it can contribute to broader discussions.
This project is going to culminate in an exhibition at the Machines Gallery on Thursday 17th December 2015, and this morning students from both courses collectively presented their unifying concept for the exhibition and, in small groups, shared proposals for exhibits, instillations and interactive guide books that will be shown at the exhibition. Each small group is comprised of a mixture of IED and HoD students and both the overarching exhibition concept and the individual exhibition ideas a driven by reflections on historical practices, particularly the example of the 1862 International Exhibition.
In order to consider how expos might be developed in the future, the students have decided to use memories and experiences of past exhibitions, particularly the 1862 International Exhibition, to reflect on how future generations may experience expos. Each group has chosen a historical event or object to help inspire reflections on future exhibition experiences. Ranging from guide books to toilets, umbrellas to tempest prognosticators and chess matches to images these objects and instances have largely been chosen because they provide useful tools for thinking about how the 1862 and other historical international exhibitions were experienced. These objects and moments will play key roles in the resulting exhibition that will reflect on the past, present and future of expo practices.
Students have another three weeks to further develop these ideas and get them ready for the exhibition. We think this will be a really interesting event that will not only spark questions about expo futures, but, exactly like the process itself, will also demand further consideration of the role of design historians within contemporary design dialogues.
© Ruth Slatter, 2015