Fusion: Industrial Design by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners
At Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, Wapping Wall, London E1 until 3 October and the Tea Factory, Wood Street, Liverpool from 30 October to 27 November
'Fusion' is a visually striking display of Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners' accomplishments in industrial design, housed in 20 freestanding aluminium cases which look as if they come straight from an aircraft's cargo hold. They open out to reveal components seemingly transfixed in space, courtesy of discreet glass panel supports. The life of the practice is spanned with inclusions that range from the cladding at Herman Miller to the telephones at Waterloo International Terminal; with special attention to the current, highly sensitive work in redeveloping Brunel's Grade I-listed Paddington Station. There is all the refinement and ingenuity one would expect and much to admire.
There is also a curiously surreal quality to the display, the consequence of so much fetishising of objects, some of which are much like body parts. The impact of the show is certainly the greater for its setting - the former Wapping Hydraulic Power Station in east London, which Grimshaw is about to turn into a performance and exhibition space for the Women's Playhouse Trust. But there's a double-edge to choosing such a venue. In this big brick cavern of superceded machinery one can't but wonder just what shelf-life Grimshaw's state-of-the-art solutions will enjoy. Immaculate and gleaming, these components could be candidates for a streamlined Soane Museum in which High-Tech fragments supplant the plaster casts.