The Geffrye Museum in Hoxton has spent a hundred years showcasing the most exciting designers and trends for the home, so when ELL heard over 5000 visitors had already beaten a path to its latest exhibition useful + beautiful: contemporary design for the home, we decided to explore what’s in store for furniture in the future.
The exhibition is part of the museum’s Centenary programme and celebrates one of The Geffrye’s original purposes: to inspire the local furniture-making trade. The exhibition brings together recent works by fresh talent as well as established national and international designers and aims to show how they respond to matters of efficiency, sustainability and aesthetics. On show is a wide range of domestic pieces from furniture, textiles, lighting and wallpaper to colourful designs for the garden.
London is an established hub for designers and the work of local ELL borough artists is well covered. Pieces from the Hackney studios of Tord Boontje, Jasper Morrison and Barber Osgerby are on show. Matthew Elton’s bespoke oak shelves made in Hackney Wick can be seen and Bethnal Green’s design duo Poetic Lab – Hanhsi Chen and Shikai Tseng illuminate the show with their “Ripple” lighting project. Ed Carpenter, one half of Hackney Road designers Klauser and Carpenter showcases the pink pigeon light. The original design for this lamp was exhibited at Carpenter’s 2001 Royal College of Art graduation show but has now gone on to be acknowledged as an unofficial London souvenir!
A recurring theme of the exhibition is the British textile designer William Morris’ golden rule: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Adhering to this principle are the plug lamp by Stockholm based design duo Form us with love which integrates a plug in the base of a lamp and the folding stool, that folds flat when you pick it up by the handle designed by West-Norwood based Jack Smith.
An interactive exhibition, useful + beautiful lets you sample some of the furniture, watch short films on design and even put together the DIY Edie child’s stool.
But to enter the exhibition you are first directed through the museum’s other permanent collection – a tour of English domestic design stretching back four hundred years. The transition from the dark heavy wood panelled rooms of the 17th Century to useful+beautiful’s clean and stylish space creates a strong transition and a glimpse of what you might see in your very own sitting room in the future.
useful+beautiful continues at the Geffrye Museum until Monday August 25.
Entry to the exhibition is £5 (£3 concessions). Entry to the museum and gardens is free.
The Geffrye Museum of the Home, 136 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 8EA