03 April 2011

London on the Weekend - yohji yamamoto and the cult of beauty

For the past year I have been part of the Product Team for the V&A at Dundee project. As you would hope it's a dynamic project with many interesting facets. This weekend, in my mind, was a particularly important milestone as the touring exhibition of the architectural designs for the V&A at Dundee building, is displayed in V&A South Kensington in London (until 15 May, 2011). Professor Paul Thompson, Rector of Royal College of Art and Lesley Knox, Chairman of the Alliance Trust and Dundee Design Ltd (the charitable organisation established to make V&A at Dundee happen) spoke of the significance of the initiative and the quality of Kengo Kuma's architectural design. Professor Thompson gave insight into the exhibitions that would be travelling to Scotland in the pre-opening (2011-2014) and post-opening (2015-17) periods and, Lesley Knox looked to the future where Dundee would be known for the 3 D's - Design, Digital and Discovery.

For me the excitement of V&A at Dundee was also to be found in the atmosphere of V&A London on Friday evening. It was filled with an array of positive noise and energy - the place was simply alive with people socialising! It was a stark statement and one couldn't help but be impressed by the achievements of the V&A who have transformed the concept of a museum and changed people's perceptions of what a museum is in the 21st century. Who knew ten years ago that we'd be saying 'Let's have a night out at the museum on Friday!'

As well as the architectural design display, the delights of the V&A included a spectacular retrospective of fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto (- over 80 garments form the last 30 years). The breadth and depth of Yamamoto's portfolio is jaw dropping. Being up close and personal with design of such deep integrity was inspirational. His attention to detail and his approach to playfulness is really special.

A sensational history lesson via The Cult of Beauty exhibition was also enjoyed. Indeed, I don't recall the last time I had such a meaningful conversation with colour, be it subtle, sympathetic, bold or mischievous. And whether you love or loathe the aesthetic movement 1860-1900 (e.g. the work of Lord Leighton, Albert Moore, John Everett Millais, John Ruskin, Dante Gabriel Rosetti) it has a lot to teach us, still.

Two different design commentaries, both utterly inspirational.

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