This week Gabriella and Lucy, our two interns had the opportunity to visit the fantastic exhibition ‘House Proud’ at Manchester Art Gallery .. here they report back on some of the design classics they saw, and how they are still relevant to our work today.
Look out for our Summer Trends blog coming next week.
Currently exhibiting at Manchester Art Gallery, House Proud, is inspired by the Gallery’s own Industrial Art Collection, nostalgically scanning a period in the 1930s when the Gallery took the lead in acquiring and displaying home furnishings which revealed mass-produced and limited-edition pieces, focused particularly on those with a very strong, contemporary design aesthetic. The present exhibition draws upon some of the ways in which the boundaries between art and design for the home environment have developed and progressed since then, exploring a range of glass, ceramics and metalwork within furniture design.
In order to improve and enhance the design and distinction of pieces, contemporary artists were deliberately employed as fundamentally, this exhibition shows how functional objects came to be seen in a new light. The show includes items designed for industrial production by artists such as Dame Laura Knight, Eric Ravilious and John Piper. Furthermore, many of the designers included in the display were influenced by contemporary art, particularly Neo-Romanticism, Abstraction, Surrealism, Op and Pop Art. Additionally, the exhibition also includes paintings and works on paper, alongside textiles and wallpapers from the Whitworth art gallery.
Vertical – 1937
Designed by Ben Nicholson 1894 – 1982
Made by Edinburgh Weavers 1937
Tapestry woven cotton and rayon
Nicholson’s usually abstract and constructivist art has been translated into this textile design. The sculptural effect has been achieved through using the contrasting weaves and the varieties of textures formed by the combination of cotton and rayon. This strong juxtaposition has been used to a great effect, formulating a rich architectural rendition. Once again, this piece reflects upon fashionable neutral tones with splashes of bold colour, which is prominent within this Summers trend.
Aircraft – 1938
Designed by Marion Dorn 1899 – 1964
Made by Old Bleech Linen Company Limited 1938
Screen-printed linen and rayon
Marion Dorn produced designs for both mass-produced and bespoke textile furnishings and rugs, Aircraft, having been particularly successful for it was used to furnish ocean liners. Movement is cleverly evoked within Dorn’s design, portrayed through darting birds in the form of silhouettes, provoking the feeling of flight and levitation. This combination of pastel and neutral colours, is particularly relevant to this years Spring and Summer sophisticated palette, as well as the minimal pattern which has been kept simple and graphic, creating a fun approach.
Crawling Couch – 1987
Designed and made by Jon Mills b.1959
Beaten, welded and patinated steel
Mills was one of several sculptors in the 1980s that chose to up-cycle and reuse scrap materials as a statement against mass consumerism. Mill’s Couch is perhaps a prime example of this mode of rebellion for it was originally inspired by a traditional upholstered chaise-longue. He has deliberately reworked this typically luxurious style of relaxation and comfort to form a particularly surreal, uncomfortable and rather menacing piece. Mills has used rusted reclaimed steel, leaving the hammer marks and bolts visible. Together with the extreme sharp edges, spiky back and clawed feet, the feeling of unease and discomfort is generated, contrasting effectively with slick, high-tech modern design. Furthermore, the robust, industrial design of this piece is very fitting with current popular trends.
Calyx – 1951
Designed by Lucienne Day 1917 – 2010
Made by Heal’s
Using the English tradition of basing a pattern on nature, Day has designed an innovative, stylised pattern, which appears to highlight geometric forms within the natural world. This design reflects current trends, perhaps more particularly upon the key botanical and geometric prints, providing a layering effect.
A very interesting read thank you Gabbie and Lucy 🙂