Don't Panic

1 June - 13 July 2007

Don't Panic featured films, architectural projects, design products and installations by recent graduates and tutors from the Royal College of Art, curated by Gerrard O'Carroll. These addressed the realities of contemporary life that architects and designers usually ignore: fear, danger and the fragility of human behaviour. It embraced and celebrated a world full of contradiction and complication, a society obsessed with youth, beauty, media and celebrity, a society where what we believe to be true has more value than empirical truth, a society obsessed with itself and its own desires, a society searching for instant gratification, a society in which fewer than 50% of us describe ourselves as happy.

Artists whose work featured included Elio Caccavale, Joel Dunmore, Dunne and Raby, Jordy Fu, Andrea Goecke, Catherine Guiral + Quentin Walesch, Tomas Klassnik, Nicola Koller, Mathias Megyeri, Metro, David Pierce, Sally Quinn, Tanya Rainsley, Tim Simpson and Noam Toran.

Don't Panic was supported by the late John Eldridge, who was a passionate enthusiast for architecture and his generosity entirely characteristic of him. The exhibition was a fitting tribute to his spirit of adventure and inquiry.

 


Exhibitors


ELIO CACAVALE (graduated RCA 2003) www.eliocaccavale.com

Elio Caccavale, born 1975 in Naples, Italy, studied Product Design at Glasgow School of Art before going on to the Royal College of Art to complete a master in Design Products. He has since divided his time between consultancy, research, teaching and writing. His projects typically involve collaboration with natural scientists, social scientists and biomedical ethicists and explore the emerging biotechnologies and the effects that they might have on life in the future.

Elio has exhibited his work and lectured internationally. He has recently presented his work at the World Forum on Science and Civilization organized by The James Martin Institute (part of the University of Oxford) and at the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum (part of the University of Edinburgh).

Elio teaches Product Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (part of the University of the Arts). He is also visiting lecturer on the MA Design Interactions course at the Royal College of Art. He is currently a researcher in the Interaction Research Studio (Design Department) at Goldsmiths College (part of the University of London) working on The Material Beliefs project. He has though as visiting lecturer at the Architectural Association. He is currently contributing with Professor Michael Reiss (Chief Executive of Science Learning Centre London) to the forthcoming 'Creative Encounters' book to be published by the Wellcome Trust London.  Elio work has received the Wellcome Trust Sciart Award and the I.D. Design Award.

UTILITY PETS (Series of products with accompanying film, 2004)
Utility Pets is an experimental project that uses products to draw attention to the ethical consequences of xenotransplantation - the transplantation of animal organs into humans. In the not-so-distant  future, Elio imagined that shortly after birth, people will be given a  piglet with their own DNA engineered into it. The pig, known as a  "knockout" pig in the scientific jargon, is a form of living insurance policy - an organ bank. This project explores what kind of new objects  might be needed if the pig lives in the home with its owner's family. 

The Utility Pet products include a low-resolution TV exclusively for pigs, which they can control themselves; a pig toy with a microphone and a radio handset allowing the owner to listen to the pig enjoying itself; a smoke-filtering device allowing a person to smoke in front  of the pig without it suffering the consequences of passive smoking;  and a comforter - a psychological product made from the snout of the  sacrificed pig, which serves as a memento after the  xenotransplantation has been carried out, and helps people come to  terms with the contradictory feelings generated by this complex  situation.

 


JOEL DUNMORE (graduated RCA 2005)

Joel Dunmore studied at The Bartlett School of Architecture and The Royal College of Art, where he pursued his fascination with fictional documentaries. Joel's design projects have been inspired and driven equally by prophetic news articles, literary narratives, and by an instinctive tendency towards dynamic concepts and sculptural forms. His deeply ironic project Grief or Relief won the Keppie Design and National Grid Transco Awards 2005. Joel's work has previously been exhibited at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, the London Design Week and at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.

I DIDN'T KNOW YOU BUT I MISS YOU (Mixed media, 2007)
What unites our nation these days other than fear and grief? Princess Diana, The Soham murders and 7/7 bring busloads of tourists; grief and horror are part of our leisure culture- ' a good day out' is had by all. So much pleasure can be had from so much misery. Might Stratford re-invent itself as a focus for national grief unity? Wind turbines and giraffes employed to produce infrasound at a frequency that stimulates feelings of sadness and melancholy, ensure the tourists leave feeling sated. Meanwhile this captured audience might conceal a darker side. A DNA laboratory collects our samples and dispenses life-expectancy probability, predicting our tourist's genetic chances of a slow and painful death.

 


DUNNE AND RABY www.dunneandraby.co.uk

Professor Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby use products and services as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of emerging technologies. Many of their projects are collaborative, working with industrial research labs, academia and cultural institutions to design both speculative products and services. Projects include: Hertzian Tales, a combination of essays and design proposals exploring the aesthetic meanings of electronic objects (published 1999); Weeds, Aliens and Other Stories (with Micahel Anastassiades), a collection of psychological furniture for the home and garden (published 2000); FLIRT, a European Union funded research project investigating location-based services for mobile phones (published 2000); and Placebo, a collection of electronic objects which explore mental well-being in relation to domestic electromagnetic fields (published 2001). BioLand their current research project investigates how a critical design approach can be applied to the field of biotechnology. Anthony and Fiona were founding members of the CRD Research Studio at the Royal College of Art (1994-2002), Anthony is currently Professor and Head of Design Interaction at The Royal College of Art, and Fiona runs design studios in both Design Interaction and Architecture. Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects was published by August/Birkhauser in 2001.

EVIDENCE DOLLS (Installation, 2005)
How will dating change when DNA analysis can reveal the presence of undesirable genes? Evidence Dolls are hypothetical products sold in a fictional shopping mall called Bioland. The Dolls were commissioned by the Pompidou Centre for the D-Day exhibition in 2005. The project consists of one hundred specially designed dolls used to provoke discussion amongst a group of young single women about the impact of genetic technology on their lifestyle. The Dolls come in three versions based on penis size (small, medium and large). A black indelible marker allows women to note down interesting characteristics of their lover. Hair, toenail clippings, saliva, and sperm can be collected and stored in the penis drawer.

 


YU JORDY FU (graduated RCA 2005)

Yu Jordy Fu had her first solo art exhibition at the age of six and has since published two books and participated in many international exhibitions. Before coming to London to continue her studies Jordy was trained as a pianist and TV presenter. She has a degree in Art and Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and a Masters in architecture from the Royal College of Art London. Jordy's work in the exhibition continues her interest in design that meets peoples' dreams, engages their emotions and transforms their desires into delights.

HALLELUJAH FAMILY® (Paper model, 2006)
Hallelujah family® is a response to the changing notion of family and the sharp increase in homelessness. Jordy Fu proposes a new company, Family®, specialising in the commodification of ‘family moments’ that operates a town in which hybrids of homes and essential facilities replace traditional housing and in which everyone is contracted to take specific Family® roles. Hallelujah Family® captures a Sunday breakfast in the HomeChurch of Family® town. Widows are preparing breakfast on an elongated cooking altar, single parent children are sat in big angel chairs, divorcees meet singletons while milking the Family® cows and everyone worships the Family® flowers that act as memorials to all the Family® members who are no longer with us. Let the warmth of Family® embrace you!

 

 


ANDREA GOECKE (graduated RCA 2004)
Andrea Goecke completed a Masters in Interior Architecture in Denmark and Germany, before moving to London. With a 2-year scholarship from the German DAAD she then studied at the Royal College of Art where she won the DIN associates design prize, was nominated for the RIBA Silver Medal and shortlisted for the Archiprix International Award for the ‘world’s best architectural graduates’. Her thesis project CUTE POLITICS was exhibited at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, the Lighthouse in Glasgow and at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.

 

Adventure> (3D Architectural Graffiti and political toys, 2007)
Cute Politics responds to the growing population of Kidults, who refuse to grow up, and who typically prefer to vote for reality TV contestants than for politicians. Recognising the current failure and the future potential of politics  in this forever young society, the architectural proposal is for a new town hall housed within a 3D graffiti-tag. Within this urban spectacle, political parties attempt to gain electoral advantage by translating their traditional manifestoes into an engaging, interactive experience, and to re-educate this entertainment-spoiled generation in the process.

 

 


 

CATHERINE GUIRAL + QUENTIN WALESCH (graduates RCA 2007)
After having respectively studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs, CalArts, Universität der Künste Berlin and the Central Saint-Martins, Catherine Guiral and Quentin Walesch met at the Royal College of Art where they have since designed the RCA Architecture Annual for the 10th Architecture Biennale in Venice and the Royal Overseas League catalogue amongst various projects. Their mutual interests lies in a mélange of theory and practice and the duo combines their different approaches to the métier of Design to neglect the expected and ordinary. In 2005, Catherine was selected as one of the top 25 Young Designers by US magazine Step. Her articles have been published on Limited Language and the ERG in Brussels and her work presented at the Jeune Création Show in Paris. Quentin went to New-York to work with Stefan Sagmeister Inc. His collaborative work with Peter Zizka for Medico International’s anti-landmine campaign was exhibited at the foreign ministry in Berlin and the Kunsthall Rotterdam amongst others. He has won first prizes from the Art Directors Club Germany and Europe.

ATAXOMANIA, (Installation, mixed materials, 3.5 x 12 m, 2007)
Following the commission for the graphics of the exhibition, Ataxomania is a 12 meter-long façade created especially for Don’t Panic. Given the intrinsic nature of the exhibition, C+Q crafted an object of seduction and release as a way to provide the visitors with a space of primeval self-expression.

 

 


 

TOMAS KLASSNIK (graduated RCA 2006)

Tomas Klassnik studied architecture at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Art where he was awarded the DIN associates design prize and received a distinction for his dissertation ‘Corridors and Perception’.  Nominated for the RIBA silver medal, he has worked for Reiser and Umemoto NY, Ian Simpson Architects, FAT and the AOC. Thomas teaches interior and spatial design at Chelsea College of Art, has edited the London Architecture Diary and exhibited at the Architecture Foundation and the 2006 Venice architecture Biennale. www.klassnik.com

THE GREAT INDOORS (Installation, 2007)
 In The Great Indoors Tomas Klassnik suggests a landscape of tarmac fields and breezeblock villas populated by an enervated elite who never leave the house. Sustained by a diet of uncensored electronic stimulation and takeaway meals delivered by low paid immigrant labour, communication between these two parties seeps out through the walls of the house itself, avoiding any requirement for direct physical interaction. Klassnik’s installation in the Yard’s outdoor space is a breeze block faced shed whose roof is pierced by a timber ladder extending 12m into the sky above. From here you can chat to your neighbours through the built in megaphone, temporarily escaping the hermetic interior of your breezeblock villa.

 

 


 

Nicola Koller
DRIVING WITH THE JONES (Film, 2007 and Architectural Drawings)
This film explores a world in which the English countryside might finally succumb to tragi-pathogens, falling EEC subsides and ever decreasing profits.  Might the Ministry for agriculture form a desperate alliance with ‘Ferret Homes’ to preserve the countryside as an aesthetic experience only? Lifestyle value is given to the 4 million cheap and fast homes we now require with farmers re-employed as invigilators of this rural arena, providing polished visions of rolling hills to be viewed from the rear view mirror of our 4 x 4 as we drive through a new suburban wallpaper of motorway roundabouts.

 

 


 

MATTHIAS MEGYERI (graduated RCA 2003) www.sweetdreamssecurity.com
Coming from a political poster design background, studying visual communication in Gunter Rambow’s class in Germany before doing MA in design-products at the Royal College of Art, Matthias started to use products as vehicles to explore social issues and contradictions in human behaviour. His naive starting point is a documentary approach with thousands of photographs of how people live and the everyday environment. Addressing 250 UK chief police officers at their annual Secured by Design conference in Hinckley Leicestershire is as important to his work as collaborating with traditional, family run companies like HY Squire & Sons, signing an international licensing deal with a mass market distributor or working on one-off bespoke installations for private clients. His Sweet Dreams Security™ limited edition products are sold worldwide in shops ranging from Colette and MoMA stores to Paul Smith and are permanently installed at Hoxton Square, London, THC, Tokyo, SESC, Sao Paulo. Matthias’ work has been published and exhibited internationally, of which the ‘SAFE – Design Takes on Risk’ show at the MoMA in NY was a highlight.

SWEET DREAMS SECURITY™ Est. 2003 (Installation, 2007)
The number of households protected by burglar alarms has doubled in the UK since 1992, with the global market share for intruder alarm systems exceeding $2.5 billion. In 2003, Matthias Aron Megyeri formed a commercial company and brand, Sweet Dreams Security™, to intervene in the ever-expanding home security market with critical reworkings of traditional domestic defenses. Promising to ‘spread mental wellbeing through non-threatening design’, Sweet Dreams Security™ is both a business and a research project investigating paranoia and its relationship with consumer motivation. Are the desire for ‘cosiness’, (sentimental ornaments, garden gnomes, frilly curtains) and the growing demand for security, contradictory impulses or related symptoms of a misguided faith in retail ‘therapy’*? Sweet Dreams Security™ products, from Victorian railings with grinning-bunny finials in place of spikes to padlock’s shaped like Teddy bears, combine the worlds of kitsch and crime prevention, adjusting the classic dogma ‘form follows function’ to embrace psychological as well as ergonomic need.
*27.9 million UK consumers suffer from above normal levels of stress or depression.

 

 


 

 

METRO www.metro.co.uk

Metro was launched in March 1999 as a free, colour newspaper for morning commuters. At first it was only available in London, but now commuters in 13 of Britain's major cities can pick up a free copy of Metro as they travel to work in the morning. Every weekday morning some 1.12million copies are distributed across the UK making Metro the world's largest free newspaper and the fourth biggest newspaper in the UK.

SELECTION OF FRONT COVERS 2000-2007
Metro has no political axe to grind. In it’s 8 years of existence it has looked at the lives of modern workers, and perhaps more than any other paper reflects the perhaps unofficial concerns of the capitol.

 

 


 

DAVID PIERCE (graduated RCA 2005)
David Pierce graduated from the Royal College of Art with a Masters in Architecture and the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. While at the RCA David won the Award for Design Process and exhibited and lectured at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin during the Transmediale International Exhibition. In 2006 the Victoria & Albert Museum commissioned David Pierce and Jonathan Dallas to design two temporary structures to celebrate the opening of the Jameel Gallery of Middle Eastern Art which were exhibited during the summer of 2006.

SHATTERED BODIES & EXQUISITE CORPSES (Architectural model and implants, 2007)
Burial and cremation are no longer viable for the final disposition of the dead; cemeteries are overcrowded and crematoria highly polluting. David Pierce proposes two future procedures: The first is ecological and will help the UK achieve sustainability targets; internal prosthetics are extracted before the body is freeze-dried and shattered producing biodegradable 'compost'. The second is for the defiant that have invested both pain and money on cosmetic surgery; carefully planned aesthetic-suicide ensures their physical perfection is preserved long after their death. Along with a collection of objects recovered from corpses, the exhibit focuses on the new architectural infrastructure that these procedures require, including a body processing plant, a series of chapels and a catacomb.

 


SALLY QUINN (graduated RCA 2004)
Sally Quinn was awarded first class honours for her Masters degree in Architectural Design at the University of Edinburgh before receiving an MA in Architecture and Interiors at the Royal College of Art. She has tutored at Brighton and Nottingham Universities and is currently working with Fashion Architecture Taste in London. Sally’s Blood Sense project exhibited here was short-listed for the Helen Hamlyn Award and received the runner-up prize for the National Grid Transco Creative Thinking for a Responsible Future Award.

BLOOD SENCE (Architectural model, 2007 and altered corset, 2004)
Sally Quinn’s Blood Sense project is a response to the dependence of our ageing population on an increasingly unreliable blood supply. Fears over shortages of clean blood and an increasing reliance on the regenerative power of stem cells will become catalysts for new markets in biological storage. The Blood Sense exhibit includes a detailed model of a 200m high bio-archive tower bleeding into a corset that celebrates menstrual secretion. Layers of the building are peeled away to reveal the paths of donors, laboratory staff and visitors, hygienically interwoven with sterile mass-storage volumes that cryo-preserve blood and other body products. The corset is a fashion item, worn by a donor to exhibit their uncontaminated blood.

 

 


 

TANYA RAINSLEY (graduated RCA 2006)
Born in London, Tanya completed an art foundation before going on to study architecture at the Bartlett, UCL.  Following her degree she worked in various small practices in London and Amsterdam. Her exhibited project, ‘Mother Hackney’ deals with disappointment at the failure of science to deliver the future we were promised and was awarded the Hamilton Prize for Design Process and nominated for the RIBA Silver medal.  It was first exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2006.  She currently works with Future Systems, London.

MOTHER HACKNEY (Architectural model/Diorama 2006)
Science is failing to provide for our technological needs; therefore Tanya Rainsley proposes that we must look to Mother Earth and her sisters the stars to support us in our electrical addictions. Tanya’s project focuses on Hackney’s future energy needs. The centre piece of the scheme is a local nuclear power source surrounded by an electromagnetic Lido in which to physically experience one’s aura within the cosmos. Visitors float in the energised waters of the cooling towers, bask in the earth's field on the electromagnetic beach of auras and observe the stars through the astrological web of the electrical substation. The auric conversation between Hackney’s inhabitants and Gaia’s energies relieves the fear that the Mother Earth is in crisis.

 


TIM SIMPSON (graduated RCA 2006) www.timsimpson.net
is a young British designer. He studied at Kingston University [Product and Furniture Design] and then MA Design Products at the Royal College of Art, he has lived and studied in London for the past 5 years. The medium of Tim's work is diverse, from products, to film and installation pieces. Rich in narrative and cultural observation, his work often acknowledges a brutal truth or reality that exists within society, which is usually conveyed with dry humour and wit. He is currently working on the next Natural Deselection project, as well as a new film piece entitled Suspenseful Products. His work has been exhibited at the London Design Museum and at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Thames.

SUBVERSIVE SIGHTSEEING (Coin operated telescope, 2006)
As tourists we are hyper receptive to the city landscape. There is a cinematic sense of scale and permanence that comes from looking at tall, vastly built cities. We dream, fantasise and wonder. Subversive Sightseeing is a coin-operated, tourist telescope but through it you see a film of an unravelling sequence of epic catastrophes. In the distance a crane collapses, a mushroom cloud appears on the horizon, and a capsule on the London Eye dangles precariously over the Thames. As a public, sight-specific installation, in June 2006 the telescope was placed upon Hungerford Bridge in London on the exact location the film was shot. By exploiting our trust in the built architectural landscape, the device is intended to recognise the cinematic ingenuity of our fantasies, and the ramifications events such as 9/11 have on our collective imaginations.

 


NOAM TORAN (graduated RCA 2001) www.noamtoran.com
Born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Noam Toran studied fine art and combined commissions with set designs for theatre and film before receiving  an MA in design at the Royal College of Art in London. Noam creates films and installations which use the language of products and their distinctive position in culture as a means with which to investigate anomalies in human behaviour; anomalies which specifically reflect a retaliation against imposed social conformity. Often the products are developed for individuals as  vehicles for self-expression and a celebration of uniqueness based on  personal “quirks”, desires and fantasies. The work serves to simultaneously expand upon the conflict between citizens, corporations and popular culture  and to question the role of objects (and their designers) as protagonists of conventionality. In almost all his work there is a darkly humorous conflict:  What types of identity do we project onto objects? How and why do we subvert objects in order for them to achieve more complex functionality? What does this reveal about the human condition and the systems that organize society?  His recent work has been exhibited in London, Tokyo, Stockholm, Berlin, Paris  and Jerusalem and has been published internationally. He currently teaches at the Royal College of Art.

 

DESIRE MANAGEMENT (Film, 2004-2006)
Desire Management is an installation and film celebrating the use of products as platforms for dissident behaviour. In the project, the domestic space is defined as the last private frontier, a place where alienated people use bespoke appliances to engage in unorthodox experiences. Based on real testimonials and news reports, the objects created attempt to reveal the inherent need for expression and identity formation in the face of conformity. The installation was originally shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale in Summer 2004. The project was commissioned by the CNAC Pompidou as part of the D.Day – Design Aujourd’hui exhibition and was screened at the 2005 Raindance Film Festival. In collaboration with Director of Photography Per Tingleff.

OBJECT FOR LONELY MEN (Film, 2001)
The film tells the story of a man so obsessed with Godard’s A Bout de Souffle that he designs and builds a tray which reflects the physical language of the film. The tray is made from a single sheet of vacuum formed plastic and has recesses which house the objects that the man interacts with. The objects include a mannequin head which resembles Jean Seberg (the female lead), a gun, hat, telephone, Herald Tribune newspaper, sunglasses, ashtray, steering wheel, rear view mirror and a pack of Gitanes non-filtered cigarettes. The tray serves as an outlet for the man’s desires; it allows him to directly channel the influence of the movie on his fantasies into physical action.

 


GERRARD O’CARROLL (Curator)
Architect, Writer and Curator and Tutor in Architecture at the Royal College of Art, formed a design studio at the RCA in 2001 with Fiona Raby as a reaction to what they felt was a dated modernist status quo in design education and thinking. All the architectural projects in Don’t Panic began life in this studio. Gerrard has designed and curated design shows for the British Council (2004) and with Nigel Coates, Babylondon at the Venice Biennale (2006) and in currently designing and producing The Great Exhibition to celebrate 150 years of The Royal college in a pavilion in Kensington Gardens, June 2007.