Immediately drawn to an email in the Design daily inbox because of it's murder mystery style title, joints + bones rapidly became a must-do post once the names of the exhibitions participants were revealed. Not only were many of the names designers or studios that I have met over the years and whose work I admire but the theme itself is one that has been bubbling under the surface in many guises of late. Curators and designers have begun to give validity to the design process in its own right as opposed to focusing solely on finished outcomes. The exhibition's curator, Riya Patel, has drawn together an extremely varied group of designers to demonstrate the fascinating possibilities that can come from allowing mechanical and structural details to become the focus of a design.
joints + bones, as the name suggests is all about the internal structure and the meeting points of materials. In the words of Patel, "the exhibition investigates the structure and connections of design, as opposed to surfaces or skins". In this sense the exhibition looks at the solutions applied to a key part of most objects - how things join together - and applauds their inventiveness regardless of the appearance of the outer form.
Opening on the 28th November, the exhibition includes the work of sixteen emerging and established international and UK designers with work that runs the gamut from complex 3-D printed parts to joints secured by heat shrunk sections of plastic bottles.
The objects range from hi-tech to the extremely low tech with a number of examples sitting comfortably in between. While most are not designed for mass production and are more about exploring interesting concepts, a couple are simple enough to lend themselves to small batch production and in the case of Studio Ilio's melted sand and nylon objects the process could potentially lead to a whole new type of furniture production in the future.
Adam Guy Blencowe's ingenious 'Dado' shelving uses off the rack dado rails to join the side panels made from Valchromat (a brand of coloured MDF). The intricate shapes are c'n'c cut and create decoration and unusual shelving possibilities.
The 'Offcut' tables by London studio Raw Material are made from discarded bits of marble used to create mosaic floors in Rajasthan. Several offcuts simply slot together like an intricate puzzle, relying only on the weight of the material to stabilise the joinery. Joints don't come much simpler than this but the compositions appear extremely sophisticated, bringing complimentary and contrasting marbles together and producing unique shapes.
In the hands of Micaella Pedros, the bodies of used plastic bottles have become a viable method for joining things together and creating functional structures. The method can be used to make a strong joint between odd lengths of timber, branches and other scrap materials. The lamp shown below is given its stable structure by joining a stone to a piece of wood with the same method. Carving the wood with some grooves gives the plastic something to grip onto and helps strengthen the joint. The timber has been given a version of Shou Sugi Ban, the Japanese technique of burning cedar to preserve it so the grooves become an interesting pale contrast.
The coloured anodised pieces used in Minale-Maeda's (Mario Minale and Kuniko Maeda) modular 'Wrong Colour Furniture System' might appear random but is actually highly regimented with magenta chosen for vertical bars, cyan for horizontal, and yellow for complete frames. Like a set of Meccano the storage can be reconfigured in a wide number of different ways.
'Keystones' collection by Minale-Maeda is a set of 3D-printed connectors that can be used to construct various pieces of furniture (a coat stand and table). The connectors are designed to work with standard sections and planes of wood that the user can find relatively cheaply at standard hardware stores and timber yards. The 'Keystones' have been designed with angles that strengthen the form of the overall piece by creating well engineered cross bracing to provide stability and work without screws or glue.
Hot Wire Extensions (2016) is some new investigations into Studio Ilio's hot wire experiments. Based around what they call the "model of nature" use a special type of wire to form complex objects formed through a process of combining unlikely materials and heat. The structures shown above and below are “grown” by heating a composite powder of sand and nylon to fuse around a central nichrome wire. The sand acts as filler material and a heat conductor , while the nylon powder melts and bonds everything together during the curing process.
Two stools from the 'Hot Wire' collection by Studio Ilio. The forms resemble crustation shells or bones. The heated nichrome wire turns black in the process and where cut provides a counterpoint to the smooth white nylon.
While rudimentary on first inspection, James Shaw's 'Rodular' chair and stools have been cleverly designed to reduce the machining of timber down to the bare minimum. All joints are simple round holes are drilled and the dowel-like timber rods are slotted together. The low stool stacks neatly and the range is inexpensive to produce.
While Max Frommeld's 'Hose Clip' shelving appears to be nothing more than timber and a lot of hose clips, in fact the design utilises a steel bracket concealed in a slot in the timber uprights. The hose clip acts as a simple pressure clamp preventing the shelves from moving when weight is applied.
IN 2013 Bonsoir Paris were commissioned by Swedish fashion brand Cos to create some shelving for a pop-up at Ventura Lambrate during the Milan Furniture Fair. The central component is 3-D printed in the form of an 'atom' that allows for the use of multiple light weight timber dowels. The number of configurations are almost endless.
Fabric is used as a hinge and a joining element for the oak components in Rive Roshan's 'Loom Bound' partition system (2016). 'Loom Bound' is a modular design that can be extended, adapted or configured to suit a particular space. The design can be used to divide space, improve acoustics, create storage or areas of privacy. Kvadrat Steelcut Trio fabric was chosen for its strength, interesting weave patterns and sophisticated colour palette.
joints + bones runs from November 28 2016 to January 28 2017 at Aram Gallery, 110 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2.
For directions, hours and further information on the joints + bones exhibition, Aram Gallery, go to their website here.