The Aram Gallery presents NEW MOVES, an exhibition where the iconic angle poise type task lamp will be under the spotlight.
New Moves is an exhibition at The Aram Gallery from 20 September to
3 November 2007, featuring 70 new task light prototypes designed by students from the Royal College of Art’s acclaimed Design Products department. The exhibition has as its starting point an exploration of the iconic task light – the Anglepoise and also offers the opportunity to compare new work with a selection of classics and best sellers from this uniquely independent form of lighting.
What’s the point of designing
something that’s already designed?
It may be the lure of innovation or the urge for improvement, the possibilities offered by changes in technology, reactions to evolving circumstance, such as legal regulations or new ways of life, possibly responding to environmental concerns, or fulfilling self expression. It may be a plain straightforward out of the blue bright new idea. There are many drivers for challenging an existing design.
All these drivers can be seen in 70 new concepts from students of the Royal College of Art Design Products masters department, produced in response to a project brief set by their professor, designer Ron Arad, with the active support of Ernesto Gismondi of Artemide.
The brief? To design an anglepoise lamp.
The term anglepoise in this case references the type of ubiquitous suspended task lamp that entered the world initially under the name Equipoise and then in its refined version became the iconic one-product brand name Anglepoise.
The choice of this industrially produced, mass market object as subject for an educational project is at the heartland of product design; but it’s more than that, for product designers this form of lamp has taken on a similar sort of iconic status that the chair has within furniture design. The complex challenge of satisfying demanding functional requirements, combined with achieving an elegant subservient aesthetic presence is a real test of the designer’s ability, and the existence of iconic and successful precedents raises the bar.
It needs strong beliefs in the principles of education and confidence in the future for a company to take part in an integrated education project. This project lasted seven months in an academic environment, with guidance from tutors, master-classes with guests and input from Artemide’s director and his leading engineers and marketing people.
It being an MA programme, the students were not working for the company but using this unique opportunity to explore their own ideas and processes. Both parties knew from the outset that the chances of emerging with a commercial product were low. On the other hand this might be the start of a best seller – to which none of the involved would object.
The project ran in four stages. In the first stage 70 young designers worked for 3 weeks to come up with their own concept – some of these models are part of the current exhibition. From those a jury selected 22 concepts for further development. This took the projects through two rounds of three months in which prototypes went through various
feasibility, functionality and formal research models. At the final stage Artemide was to decide if any of the projects interested them sufficiently to be taken on by contract with the company.
For the RCA this is a story of a well integrated collaboration enabling academic creative freedom, with a sense of reality brought in by Artemide with their industrial conviction and belief in investing in future designers.
For Artemide the project has offered a fresh invigorating process and has yielded nine designs that they have now chosen to explore for production.
New Moves is the first public presentation of the group project, under the curatorial direction of The Aram Gallery which presents new and experimental design.
New Moves presents the student projects alongside classics, bestsellers and highlights of this field. This reflects the gallery’s interest in exploring the way designers think about things. The anglepoise project is an opportunity to have a peek into the way individuals, who may be trained in the same profession, approach the same thing in a huge diversity of ways.
We look to the new group’s results to see what interests the emerging generation of designers. Unsurprisingly we see technology, materials and technique all hard at work, as are aspects of content, form and different levels of invention and innovation. This is not new, that’s how designers look for ideas, but we also see changing priorities, attitudes, opportunities and specific ideas.
New Moves in addition celebrates the continuing influence of a very particular invention and its design. The lamp that George Carwardine developed with the Terry family company is now recognised as a unique and significant type of lighting object. The suspended motion articulated task lamp has an almost independent economy that has peaked every 15 to 20 years with a new significant best selling design. At the delivery of the brief to the design students, Artemide’s founder, art director and owner, Ernesto Gismondi, talked of the need for a new ‘anglepoise’ to take the market into its next era. Artemide is the company that produced the Tizio and the Tolomeo, two acknowledged
success stories, but yet when Mr Gismondi presented his interests he held up his own Anglepoise lamp that he brought with him all the way from Milan, and asked “What’s after the Anglepoise?”.
Thanks to the fantastic support by Artemide we are able to put together this catalogue which includes the results of the project and has become an opportunity to visit the history of the anglepoise. At the introduction to the project, apart from the delivery of the brief by Arad and Gismondi, the students heard from Simon Terry on the origins and ambitions of Anglepoise the company, Abigail Matthews reviewed the physical principles, and Deyan Sudjic spoke of aspects of challenge and attraction that designers face in designing under the influence of an ‘icon’. In this catalogue we have asked these generous contributors to put some of their thoughts into short essays or interviews, alongside
three further pieces: one by John Terry setting the record straight about the history of the patent and the original design; another by Kenneth Grange who reflects on the process as an experienced product designer; and finally a student taking part in the project, David
Sutton, writes about the experience of designing his own anglepoise lamp.
This catalogue is a first for The Aram Gallery, and as with all our projects we give a platform to experimental and new works, this time in the form of catalogue design by Art Director Jeremy Mac Lynn, commissioned photography of the projects and movement pieces by Shira Klasmer, and exhibition design by Oscar Narud.
This is also the place to thank all the masters that gave masterclasses and whose successful products take pride of place in the exhibition. They are Richard Sapper (Tizio for Artemide), Michele de Lucci (Tolomeo for Artemide) Yaacov Kaufman (Naomi for Lumina) and Kenneth Grange (Anglepoise Type 3).
New Moves and the accompanying catalogue give us the opportunity to consider the phoenix-like cycle at the heart of design, an existing design which both stands in the way of the new and is the thing that makes it possible for it to be designed again. One cannot have new moves without the moves that preceded them.
To revisit one of the key philosophical thoughts about creativity: ‘What’s worth thinking about? That which has not been thought of before.’ One might ask about design: ‘What’s worth designing?’ To which the answer should be – ‘Everything! Even an anglepoise.’
Daniel Charny, Curator