Ellis Woodman- Executive Editor
The latest blockbuster design shows only tell half the story
The Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition British Design 1948-2012 tells a familiar story at considerable length.
It’s a blockbuster featuring a cast of household names and conceived without the first thought of reframing their achievements. It will offer a fun afternoon out for a family from Idaho over for the Olympics and, as two thirds of its contents have been sourced from the museum’s collection, it won’t have cost the earth to stage.
Of course, big populist shows like this should be part of the programme of a major institution like the V&A. For anyone interested in architecture, however, it increasingly feels like blockbusters are the only kind of exhibition on offer.
It’s not just the V&A. The Design Museum’s output rarely wavers from epic monographic shows, while the Serpentine increasingly seems to pursue its pavilion programme as if the objective were to collect a full set of the world’s most famous architects. The director of Tate Modern has stated publicly that he doesn’t see architecture as part of his remit at all.
Where in London - let alone outside the capital - can one find a small exhibition devoted to the work of an emerging practice? At a school like the Architectural Association or London Metropolitan perhaps - but those are hardly venues capable of reaching a general audience.
What is needed is a small, fleet-footed contemporary architecture gallery embedded within a major institution. The V&A would be the ideal candidate.
30 January 2012
13 December 2011