Design is everywhere, but we don't always see it.
Working with creative agency In the Company of Huskies, as part of our exhibition Liminal – Irish design at the threshold, we placed everyday items and street furniture in museum-style vitrines around Dublin city centre for one day only, encouraging people to rethink what design is, and what impact it has on everyday life.
We spoke with Niamh Clohessy and Edel Quinn, two of the creative team from In the Company of Huskies, to find out more about their how they developed the project, and the challenges of getting street furniture inside perspex boxes.
The Vitrine Project
When something is well designed it works seamlessly. This can be a blessing and a curse for design as this seamlessness allows us to engage with objects without having to think about them. Design, especially good design, is often taken for granted or else totally overlooked. We wanted to find a very simple way of engaging with the general public to make them aware of the design that they would usually take for granted.
Our project had to work on two levels; it had to raise awareness for the ID2015 Liminal exhibition, and it needed to keep the general public thinking about what design means.
In response to this, we developed The Vitrine Project: a guerilla advertising stunt that evolved from the idea that good design is all around us, yet we rarely see it. This thinking was combined with the observation that most everyday objects will instantly seem worthy of a gallery if placed in a perspex vitrine, allowing us to pose the question: "Does this object belong in a gallery?" If design doesn't make it to a gallery, does this make it unworthy of our attention?
The strength of this concept lies in its simplicity. It's easy to explain but not quite as easy to bring to life. Perspex boxes are heavy and cumbersome objects which became very apparent as the team attempted to move them from a truck to a carpark during a storm. This task was difficult to manoeuvre but definitely amusing to watch. Logistically we were obliged to alter our original plan of covering massive everyday objects in perspex. We had to be clever about what we wanted to cover and what we wanted these objects to say.
We had originally intended to remove objects and street furniture from around the city and place them into the vitrines but then decided to keep the objects in-situ so as not to interfere with the natural landscape which helped to reinforce the message visually.
As a discipline, design can be quite inaccessible to the general public, so we wanted our project to be very public facing and interactive. We wanted to maintain the narrative on design and continue the great work carried out by ID2015 to date. We chose key locations around Dublin city and set out with a camera crew to capture people's reactions to the vitrines, creating a film that can live on as a piece of content furthering the ID2015 message to people who had not seen the boxes on the day.
Following the success of The Vitrine Project in Dublin, we hope that the project will be extended beyond Dublin to continue the conversation on the crucial role that design can play in enhancing our environments.
The Vitrine Project is part of Liminal – Irish design at the threshold, the flagship exhibition from Irish Design 2015 on show at the ID2015 Design Hub, Dublin Castle from November 20th to December 30th, 2015.