Review: Goldsmiths Design 2010 at Free Range

Free Range is at the Old Truman Brewery, East London

Exhibition: Goldsmiths Design 2010 – Curious, 10th Annual Free Range Art and Design Show, Old Truman Brewery, London. Free Range runs until July 26 2010

Necessity is not always the mother of invention. For the students in Goldsmiths Design 2010 it would appear to be the last thing on their minds.

How else could you explain a machine which pulls a party popper when you least expect it? Anticipation and surprise are replaced by tedium and shock

Simon Cordery has also bought electric birthday cake candles to his final year show. You snuff the flames at the flick of a wrist. It is anti-climax by design.

Such devices are just one response to what must have been a very open brief from tutors at the South London university. Rather than waste their time designing chairs and signage, Goldsmiths students are encouraged to explore the margins of their field.

Another mischievous solution to a problem you never knew existed was Swipe Aid. Robert Allen’s smart card system helps you give money to beggars without the potential awkwardness of a face to face interaction.

Meanwhile, goose bumps may seem like an atavistic hangover, a physiological design flaw even. And yet Avril O’Neil gives us ready access to the syndrome by attaching a feather to the end of an extended drill bit.

Some work was as ambitious as it was impractical. Livia Rossi has developed tri-valve party balloons to be inflated by three people at once. The goal is for a shared perception of time.

Time also concerns Sara Abu-Hejleh. A pair of handlebars with fans attached is designed to provoke youthful memories of a breezy cycle ride. Her other attempts to rejuvenate the elderly included a near-static swing seat.

Of course there was some hard evidence that Goldsmiths design students can be as useful as any others. Rachel Cockburn has sparked professional interest with a sustainable eating website which helps users find local produce locally.

But while most projects do not seem to have immediate real world applications, they do capture the imagination, originally, efficiently and effectively. If that was the brief, they’ve cracked it.

Written for Culture24.

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