“Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things”

Stylesight attends the preview for the new exhibition Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things at the Design Museum, London.

Displayed throughout the top floor of the building, the show is organized by six sections — not ruled by chronology or celebrity, but focusing instead on what makes these items “extraordinary”, an unmissable part of our everyday life.

The first theme to welcome a visitor is “Taste”, dedicated to the arrival of Modernism in Britain with iconic works by Marcel Breuer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Ernö Golfinger. “Why We Collect” displays examples of ready-made design ranging from Campana brothers’ Stuffed Toy Chair to the Handlebar Table by Jasper Morrison.

The “Identity” section introduces pieces that have become so deeply rooted into a nation’s public image that the designers have been forgotten – including the classic K2 British phone booth, designed by Sir Giles Robert Scott in 1931, along with the identities behind the motorway signage, the Euro currency and even traffic lights.

The “Icons” part focuses on the Anglepoise lamp and how it has influenced so many later designs and designers. “Materials & Progress” comes next, and plastic is protagonist as expected, displayed through well-known pieces from the 60s to nowadays.

The “Fashion” segment of the show focuses on six outfits chosen from the over 400 pieces donated to the Museum by Lady Jill Ritblat. Once again, the fil rouge for these picks is the personal taste of the collector and the (relative) everydayness, including wearability.

Offering a fresh overview on the link between design and daily life, this fascinating exhibition highlights unnoticed and given-for-granted design pieces. Noticeable are some of the great women designers in the show, including highly talented textile and rug designer Marion Dorn, and  Anna Castelli-Ferrieri, co-founder of Kartell and a key figure of Italian industrial design.

Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things opened its door to the public this week and will remain on display through 2015, when the museum will move to its new Kensington location.  – Gemma Riberti & Anna Jacobsen

All images courtesy of the Design Museum.

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