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Exhibition: Craft + Manufacture by Foster + Partners

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Featuring bespoke furniture for Foster + Partners’ Maggie’s Centre, an exhibition of the practice’s industrial design has opened at the Aram Gallery

Clerkenwell Design Week was in full swing last week, with hundreds of events across the district’s galleries, showrooms and architectural practices. If you missed the crush, then head to the Aram Gallery on Drury Lane, Covent Garden, for a delayed design dose.

The first comprehensive exhibition of industrial design by Foster + Partners is currently on show there. An array of furniture, fittings, products and lighting developed over the years by the practice fills the space. The collaborative nature of the design team pioneered by Norman Foster includes engineers, environmental experts, graphic designers, industrial designers and model-makers, as well as architects.

Since Foster + Partners’ foundation in 1967 the science, art and craft of making things has been at the root of the practice’s work. This exhibition explores the holistic way the practice approaches design and its belief in the seamless connection between structure and form.

This 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 also marks the launch of the practice’s newest light fixtures – DOT and EVA for Lumina. These lamps follow the FLO light, which was developed for the same manufacturer.

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 Centre in Manchester (AJ 05.05.16). As Norman Foster says: ’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.’

Mike Holland, head of industrial design at Foster + Partners, echoes these sentiments in the context of the practice: ’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.’ And this exhibition gives you a glimpse of that broad approach.

Craft + Manufacture: Industrial Design by Foster + Partners is at the Aram Gallery, the top floor of the Aram Store, until 2 July. Open Monday – Saturday 10am-6pm, Thursdays until 7pm

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