In the UK the idea of design as a process to avoid making new things or to subvert dominant modes of production, distribution and consumption is increasingly taking hold in creative practice. There is a growing desire to turn away from the new, to achieve more with less and to look afresh at the past in order to support new creative and social values. This mining of the past, the local (as opposed to the global) and the particular (as opposed to the ubiquitous) has resulted in a new form of design and creative practice that maps processes, embraces character and place, and ascribes value to making, improvisation, collective action and participation, networks, and ethics.
These ideas and new ways of working are unquestionably bound to notions of time and urgency driven by the current economic and environmental situation and its subsequent impact on quality of life. This approach to design is also marked by a spirit of generosity and an understanding of the potential of the small action to achieve change.
Responding to the dual implications of the subject – urgency and the passing of time - the British contribution to Timeless explores and expresses the idea of ‘place’ within ‘time’ through a series of commissions that are specific responses to Lisbon; its resources, identity and location.
The six selected designers share a sensibility towards their practice which reflects either a renewed recognition of local skills and vernacular typologies or encourages local engagement and joint civic action. The extent to which these ideas have penetrated design practice in the UK is reflected in the disciplines which the commissions represent; architecture, graphics, jewellery, interiors and furniture.
The works touch upon production methods, mapping and resourcefulness and each present different relationships between designer/maker, objects/goods and user/purchaser. Each of the designers’ specific responses to Lisbon – and their use, repair or representation of its resources – will engage new audiences and participants in this methodology of resourceful design. This engagement may be direct through individual conversations, symbolic through the physical action of climbing over a stile, or indirect through the unexpected experience of sitting on a beautiful inlayed park bench. We also hope that they suggest new interpretations of familiar places and materials; the cork manufacturing industry, markets, fine craft traditions, the professional and amateur productions of Odivelas, and the typographic traditions and common wisdom of Lisbon’s people.
List of designers: