‘Craft + Manufacture: Industrial Design by Foster + Partners’ opened at The Aram Gallery in London yesterday. This is the first comprehensive exhibition dedicated to industrial design work by Foster + Partners, reviewing a wide range of the practice’s work in this field over the past five decades. The exhibition, which runs until 2 July, gives an insight into the practice’s passion for the ‘making of things’, exploring its wide diversity, from door handles to wind turbines. The science, art and craft of making things, has been at the root of the practice’s work since its foundation in 1967. The collaborative nature of the design team pioneered by Norman Foster has always included engineers, environmental experts, graphic designers, industrial designers and model-makers, as well as architects. This integrated team delivers design solutions which treat the built environment in a holistic way; everything we see and touch is designed, and this is seen as a seamless activity. The tradition of industrial design at Foster + Partners owes much to talented individuals such as Arek Wozniak in the 1980s and John Small from 1985 until 2010, when Mike Holland took over as head of the Industrial Design team of fourteen designers. This exhibition offers an in-depth exploration of the way the practice works, its commitment to innovation and collaboration, and a demonstration of its belief in the seamless connection between structure and form. The inherent philosophy of working with industry is reflected in the design and production of the drafting tables designed by the practice for its Great Portland Street offices in 1981, which eventually evolved into the Nomos range of desking solutions manufactured by Tecno. On display are the Teso and Arc tables developed in partnership with Molteni & C, the Walter Knoll Foster 520 series of seating, and the latest Hadrian and Hadriana marble tables designed by Norman Foster for Citco. The exhibition will also be marking the launch of the practice’s newest light fixtures – DOT and EVA for Lumina. These lamps follow on from the success of the FLO light, which was developed for the same manufacturer.
Demonstrating the variety of scales, and the notion of integrated design that characterises the practice’s work, the exhibition also examines the industrial design team’s contribution to some of the practice’s architectural projects including the Cathay Pacific lounge seating at Hong Kong Airport and the bespoke furniture designed for the new Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Manchester. Norman Foster, Chairman and Founder, Foster + Partners: “I have always had a very close relationship with the making of things – I find it impossible to separate the process of design from the process of making. The diversity of the practice’s work is a logical outcome of the way we have evolved through our core activity of designing buildings. For me, the constant theme that flows through our work is the fusion of the humanistic and poetic dimensions of an object, and the technical precision of industry – more succinctly craft and manufacture.” David Nelson, Head of Design, Foster + Partners: “Over almost 50 years, the working methodologies of the practice have continuously evolved and have become ever more diverse. Although the mainstream activity of the design of cities, buildings and products remains at the core of everything we do, the challenge today is to bring forward increasingly more specialised knowledge and skills in engineering, geometry, mathematics, etc. – all with a particular emphasis on people and how they live, work and play. Industrial design for us is a critical focus in this regard.” Mike Holland, Head of Industrial Design, Foster + Partners: “Industrial design occupies a special position at Foster + Partners, it operates both within – supporting the architectural projects – and outside the practice – working with industrial partners to develop new products. It is this broad approach and the diversity of scale, whether it be products, furniture, building components or transportation that enables us to bring fresh thinking to each one of our projects.”