The Future is Here

Curator Alex Newson envisioned an exhibition that would showcase a substantial change in manufacturing through new technologies such as digital looms, online marketing places, 3D-printing and CNC routing (computer-controlled cutting machines); a change that could affect commerce, industry and the environment as profoundly as previous Industrial Revolutions. The underlying ambition was to encourage people to explore their changing relationship with the designed world, where the roles of designer, manufacturer and consumer are not so strictly defined.

We wanted visitors to take their own routes and feel free to go back to exhibits, so organized the space without dividing walls and used a variety of plinths on which the exhibits were placed. In this way, rather than the convention of the space guiding the route, people could make their own connections, contributing to the articulation of space as they made their way around the various plinths. Moreover, the plinths were constructed out of digitally-cut segments of recyclable, triple-layered, corrugated cardboard, offering a clear example of the modern process of CNC routing while using a material that is lightweight, robust, locally manufactured and indicative of an environmental and sustainable revolution. ‘Pink’ seemed the most unlikely of colours to use and therefore the most interesting, contrasting strongly with the bold appearance of the equipment on display. The colour offered warmth and an understated background, further encouraging visitors to enjoy a self-determined experience of the exhibition.

With graphic design provided by LucienneRoberts+ and an illustrated timeline commissioned from Mark Hudson, the exhibition proved a great success, introducing visitors to the potential of contemporary manufacturing in a unique and intelligent way.

Photography © Luke Hayes, Richard Hubert Smith, David Shaw