Today at the RMIT Design Hub, an exhibition The Future is Here opens, examining the way we design, make and consume objects in light of new technologies and techniques available in the market. Where once a boundary existed between consumer, designer and mass production, greater access to information and more user-friendly processes, such as 3D printing, nanotechnology, routing and open-source micro computing, allow for greater customisation and design input.
Curated by Alex Newson of the Design Museum, London, where the exhibition was originally shown, and including local designers curated by RMIT curators Kate Rhodes and Fleur Watson, the exhibition, like design technology today, allows for visitors to actively take part. Here, we speak with Mr Newson about The Future Is Here.
Mitchell Oakley Smith What is the premise of this exhibition?
Alex Newson I suppose in a way we wanted to look at the potential change in the way objects are made. For decades we have been reliant on the way goods are made; we’re used to mass-produced objects that are identical and made in a cost-effective and viable way, and that’s great as society has grown, but there are new technologies and ways of thinking, so the exhibition is an exploration of that and how we engage with those objects.
MOS The industry is moving so quickly. Is it challenging then to capture this moment in time?
AN Very much so. One of the things we wanted to do was show stuff that was in the market already, so it was possible for businesses and people to see things that affect their purchases now. With the collection at RMIT they’ve been able to draw on their resources of local material, too.
MOS Why is design technology worthy of being documented in this way?
AN All of these technologies are underpinned by several basic innovations: some are really new and cutting edge, some a few years old but starting to be used more regularly now, CNC systems and 3-D printing. That’s really only started to be used for consumer products recently as the industry comes to terms with its use. It had only been used for prototyping, whereas now it has evolved and can be used for production.
MOS How has the exhibition evolved from London to Melbourne?
AN They call it the New Industrial Revolution and it’s global. You really see that when you take it abroad, as so many things happening in the UK are happening here, too. Things can be digitised so easily and sent across the world; it’s a way of thinking globally and manufacturing locally. Design it, send the files and have it made.
MOS What might people get out of this show?
AN One of the key things is that these new technologies are changing the way consumers relate to the products they buy. It allows consumers to take a more active role the way they buy and consume their goods. For a New Industrial Revolution to take hold, it needs people to take part in it and they can with these accessible technologies.
The Future Is Here is on display at the RMIT Design Hub until 11 October 2014.