Part 2- Oxford Museums Brief (Day 1)

We began Part 2 in a morning talk with Alison, and we discussed some of the aims of the project:

  • To design in order to represent the relationship between the past and future
  • Establish connections visually
  • Have a stream of consciousness within the drawings/studies
  • Record sensory reactions
  • Observe the floor, ceilings and labels
  • Research the customers

Alison introduced us to a lot of textiles artists, and I particularly liked Yayoi Kusama’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton in 2012:

louis_vuitton_yayoi_kusama_monogram-town-speedy1louis-vuitton-x-yayoi-kusama-collection-4dezeen_louis-vuitton-and-kusama-concept-store-at-selfridges_11louis-vuitton-and-the-polka-dot-pattern-by-yayoi-kusama-japanese-pop-art-icon-1358532229-3

The dotted designs are incredibly overwhelming, but clever in the sense of Kusama’s use of negative and positive spaces. The circles depict a madness, a spontaneity that really pulls the viewer in and makes them lost within the patterns. I also love Kusama’s display of the handbags; she uses her iconic “pumpkin” shapes, adding an organic form to the room, almost making it like another world with strange creatures and objects growing around.

I absolutely adore Juliana Sissons’ work- I find them so thoughtfully structured with the strings, and her garments seem like they belong in a kind of fantasy, like they each have some sort of story line. These experimental pieces were inspired by the bold, figure-distorting shapes and rich ornamentation of 16th-century armour found in the V&A collection. The colour scheme is also dramatically strong, metallic and portrays armour in it’s most primitive, textured state. She also studied BA Fashion Design with Business Studies in Brighton University, one of my choices.

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Afterwards, we made our way to the Natural History Museum. I was instantly drawn to the fabrics in the gift shop at the entrance, particularly the Dodo prints on the suit ties, tea towels, mugs, and bags. The Dodo print was very endearing, and the pattern was so rich with textured lines and pen directions that it made the Dodo more intricate and beautifully illustrated.

Then we sketched until 2pm, where a member of staff came to advise us on getting around the museum and what we would find. I also browsed the Pitt Rivers museum, which had a much different interior to the Natural History:

Pitt Rivers focused on objects and collections from all parts of the world. It was difficult to just “browse” or skim through the collections to get a feel- you really have to take it more slowly, as there are so many things to explore in a tiny space.

I was drawn to the “body painting” section upstairs. This practice is called Uli, and the Ibo people of Nigeria paint their bodies with patterns like these. They use a dye made from the seeds of Uli plants, so it’s known as Uli painting. I like the “snake” shape at the centre, it gives a sense of continuous movement to the pattern. The brown is also very rural, organic and appealingly bold.

I haven’t decided which museum to design for yet, but after browsing through these two places, I know that there are countless ways to begin, and that it will take careful planning and time to settle for something that I can make even more brilliant.

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