• Telling Tales, fantasy and fear in contemporary design

Williams, Gareth, 2009, Show, Exhibition or Event, Telling Tales, fantasy and fear in contemporary design

Abstract or Description:

This V&A Museum exhibition, curated by Williams, featured more than 50 works by leading contemporary designers at the intersection of art, craft and design. It was the first exhibition of contemporary design to apply narrative as an interpretative method in the museum setting, divorced from considerations of market value, emphasising objects’ value as works of design or art defined by their aesthetic, material and symbolic character.
An original emphasis was placed on the notion that objects can tell stories and value arises from their narrative capabilities, as for other cultural forms, such as literature or film. During the 2000s, a new form of design practice emerged in which designers produced strongly symbolic collectible works, often as self-initiated projects, made in small numbers or one-offs, presented and traded through a network of design-specific galleries. In the research towards the exhibition, Williams investigated the contested term ‘design art’, originating in the auction market, which was often used to describe these works.
Williams employed narrative themes – ‘The forest glade’, ‘The enchanted castle’, and ‘Heaven and hell’ – to frame the works in an accessible way for the general public. The exhibition attracted over 165,000 visitors in three months, twice the Museum’s own maximum estimate. It was widely reviewed during 2009, including by The Times, The International Herald Tribune, 2+3D (Poland) and Eigen Huis (Netherlands).
The exhibition was accompanied by a book (Williams REF Output 2) and a V&A Study Day (2009), and led to invitations to speak at the North Lands Creative Glass annual conference, Scotland (2010), and a seminar on curating craft at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway (2012). The exhibition was discussed by Dr Damon Taylor (Technical University, Delft) in his paper, ‘Exhibiting design art: Telling tales and design high’, at the Association of Art Historians’ annual conference (2013).

Telling Tales, fantasy and fear in contemporary designVictoria and Albert Museum, London14 Jul - 18 Oct 2009Museum/exhibition
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W260 Furniture Design
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W270 Ceramics Design
Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2011 15:42
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2019 15:24
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/582
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