Every year, Design Museum runs a designers-in-residence programme where emerging talents are asked to propose new ideas for society around a central theme. This year that wide-ranging theme is disruption, and each of the four designers has interpreted it to take on very different projects. Past designers-in-residence exhibitions have been limited to a small space, but this year Design Museum has been bolder and offered them the majority of the second floor for their projects.
James Christian has taken on the East London De Beauvoir estate and designed a low-rise adjunct to it, drawing on inspiration from the old London Bridge when it included living space. The design is quirky and engaging but it's unclear how it would be space saving, given today's house shortage, and we weren't convinced that shared workspaces would be one of the priorities for affordable housing.
Ilona Gaynor sets up an interesting hypothetical court case where the National Lottery has been rigged, demonstrated by letters and set pieces. It's a fascinating and novel court case but the suggested manipulation of the legal system is never made clear.
Patrick Stevenson-Keating has created a cash machine where the PIN is entered using unique hand gestures and it distributes a currency created by the designer. The installation hints at how banks can do more than just hold our money, but Sherwood's interpretation of our current economic system is overly simplistic.
Our favourite work is by Torsten Sherwood, who has created an alternative to Lego using overlapping cardboard circles. We tried it and it's easy to use, recyclable and we imagine cheap to manufacture — a simple yet innovative idea that may have commercial potential.
Sherwood's stands out as the one design with the most potential while the other ideas are conceptually interesting but do not feel fully formed. It may be harsh to expect this level of rigour from emerging designers, but we left this exhibition feeling unfulfilled.
Designers in Residence is on at Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, SE1 2YD until 8 March. Tickets are £12.40 for adults and includes admissions to all exhibitions at the museum, concessions available.
For more design and art in London, see our September listings.