Political Objects by Oscar Diaz and Federal Office

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hand made Geiger Counter by Yuri Suzuki
One of our favourite exhibitions from Clerkenwell Design Week was Political Objects by London based designer Oscar Diaz and his studio Federal Office. The exhibition looked at what was referred to as 'design activism' and featured projects by young designers who are using their work to make cultural statements or bring about political change.

Plastic Gold by Florie Salnot
WGSN-homebuildlife spoke to Oscar Diaz who told us, "What is interesting is that all of these pieces are made without having a client, they are all self-initiated projects, the designers want to change something about the world through their work. Personally I think that design should always be associated with everyday life. After the economic crisis,  people are now much more engaged in political issues. I wanted this exhibition to demonstrate how designers are responding to this. There are not many designers working this way because it's not about selling, it's about making a cultural statement." 

Hand made Geiger Counter by Yuri Suzuki (top image) - Following this year's devastating earthquake in Japan and the ensuing threat of a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, Yuri Suzuki decided to invent a DIY geiger counter. He explains how people in Japan no longer trust the media and want to take their own nuclear readings. A work in progress, this counter is made using information collected from the internet. On completion Suzuki plans to spread instructions on how to make the model via his website. (Subscribers: read our interview with Yuri Suzuki)

Plastic Gold by Florie Salnot
Plastic Gold by Florie Salnot - Plastic Gold is a technique developed specificaly to transform discarded plastic bottles into pieces of jewellery, using the very limited resources available in the Saharawi refugee camps in the Sahara desert. The technique only uses hot sand, simple hand tools and paint. The craft aims to empower the Saharawi economically and culturally.

Fruit City by Vahkn Matossian

Fruit City by Vahkn Matossian - The Fruit City is a growing map and network of all the fruit trees in public spaces in London. logged and mapped by the Fruit City team and users. Additionally the website lists associated organisations and programmes as well as recipes and uses for harvested fruit.Vahkn Matossian has developed a series of objects for the urban forager from picking to juicing, aiming to remind Londoners that despite living in a city, nature is right on their doorstop.

Fashion Extensions by Studio Swine

Fashion Extensions by Studio Swine - China is investing heavily in Africa, building infrastructure in return for raw materials and developing new marketplaces for their exports. This rapidly expanding economic relationship is changing the landscape of manufactured goods. Taking this information as a starting point, the Fashion Extensions project explores the growing market in Africa for human and synthentic hair that has been imported from China. The project proposes creating a system in which a mobile workshop visits hairdressers in South African Townships to create fashion products and even suggests that Asian hair offers a viable alternative to silk.

Barrel by Harry Thaler

One Barrel by Harry Thaler - A chair made from a crushed oil barrel upholstered in leather. Harry Thaler's chair aims to offer the user a place to sit back and relax - whilst also appearing grotesque and surreal given its political agenda. Made of contemporary memorials, the barrels refer to the oil war and piles of rubbish.

Cigarette box by Simon Donald
Cigarette box by Simon Donald - Inspired by the fact that smoking ephemera seems to be one of design's lost typologies, Simon Donald has designed a desk-top cigarette box that will feel familiar to a smoker yet unfamiliar and unoffensive to a non-smoker.

Ring Shower Timer by David Weatherhead
Ring Shower Timer by David Weatherhead - This ring-shaped water timer measures the time you take in the shower to ensure it is as water and energy efficient as possible. The water timer is filled with water and hung in the shower. The water slowly drips from a hole in the bottom, gradually emptying itself of water.The timer signifies the amount of time one should spend in the shower before having a bath becomes more water and energy efficient.

Our full report from Clerkenwell Design Week will be available to subscribers from tomorrow.