Design meets art

Not for everyone: Esperanca light by Campana Brothers for Vessel Gallery

It's always interesting to see what's going on at the sharp end of design. By which I mean cutting edge, on the fringes, not the kind of thing you come across unless you are really looking for it.

This week the Frieze Art Fair hits London and alongside it are lots of other contemporary art events vying for attention. One I stumbled upon is called Super Design, which is neither art or design, but something a bit more Super.

The show is devoted to the very 21st Century phenomenon design art where objects traditionally thought of as being from the school of design merge with ideas usually associated with works of art

... and their value launches into the stratosphere. 
Quite literally at the sharp end of design art: Origami Mirror Chair by Philip Michael Wolfson for The Apartment Gallery

Whether this marriage actually improves the design, or enhances the art, is another question.

In his fascinating book 'The Language of Things', Deyan Sudjic (Director of the Design Museum) makes an interesting point about the curious paradox of utility and value. That in actual fact we value the things that could be considered to be slightly useless - as in without utility, rather than without purpose - above the useful.

Think of Ferrari (hardly the practical option, but gets attention) versus Volkswagen; or a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes (expensive, hard to walk in, but so beautiful) versus the plimpsoll. 

"Usefulness is inversely proportional to value", he says. "The more useless an object is, the more highly valued it will be."

In other words, if you can't actually sit on the chair, it's probably really, really expensive. 
Definitely in the look, but don't sit category: Reverb Wire Chair by Brodie Neill for The Apartment Gallery

Something to bear in mind perhaps if you are thinking of visiting either show, both Frieze and Super Design (all images here are from the latter) run until Sunday 17th October. 

For a concise review of the Sudjic book click here.