As we pass the end of term and reach the official beginning of summer, the halls of Central Saint Martins once again transform into a larger-than-life degree show, exhibiting the results of several years of hard work from across the disciplines and departments of the school. Whereas the Degree Show One laid its predominate focus on fine art, the Degree Show Two, opening today, presents an expanded range of critical practices – from architecture and industrial design, to communication design and curation, and of course, fashion in all its variety.
One of the striking things when exposing such a vast amount of work, is the number of different approaches to cultural production. At times, ‘design’ is understood as communicative, sellable or functional; with students focusing on problem-solving or business innovation. During several occasions in the show, we encounter seemingly market-ready products – communication systems, news apps, magazines, coffee-makers, what have you. Product designer Julie Roland, for example, presented an exquisitely manufactured leather-pouch for colostomy patients – a project that breaks taboos while bridging the gap between medical products and design.
At other times, contribution to a critical discourse or debate seems a primary concern – often involving a further degree of abstraction. Here, design is understood through its dysfunctionality – or its ability to critically examine real-life issues through an abstracted lens of design. In jewellery design, M. Ren Ishii showcased body-inhibiting structures that exemplified the natural violence of ornamenting the body – and in communication design, Davide di Teodoro constructed an interactive Kardashian meme-generator to critique how images are circulated and distributed over the web. Meanwhile at the Culture, Criticism, Curation course, an electrically powered finger mechanically tapped ‘like’ on one Tinder profile after the other; an art piece representing the digital sign of times.
And of course, there are all the moments when abstraction and functionality meet and transcend what we understand as design – when a beautiful garment pushes innovation within 3D printing; when a typeface criticises the contemporary surveillance society, or when utopian ideas of communal living materialise as an actualizable student housing project. CSM proves that critical practice is located in so many varieties of cultural production – and that the future of design lies in the merging of these spheres.
Words by Jeppe Ugelvig
Photography by Phillip Koll
Featured images: Sofia Aronov and Olesya Lipskaya
Wednesday to Friday: 12 noon – 8pm
Saturday to Sunday: 12 noon – 6pm
(last entry 30 mins before closing time)
Product, Ceramic & Industrial Design (BA Ceramic Design, BA Product Design, MA Design: Ceramics, Furniture or Jewellery, MA Industrial Design)
Culture and Enterprise (BA Criticism, Communication and Curation, MA Innovation Management)
Drama and Performance (BA Performance Design & Practice, MA Character Animation)
Fashion (BA Fashion, Graduate Diploma in Fashion)
Graphic Communication Design (BA Graphic Design, MA Communication Design)
Spatial Practices (BA Architecture, MA Architecture, MA Narrative Environments)
Jewellery and Textiles (BA Jewellery Design, BA Textile Design, MA Material Futures)