Everything At Once Show

28 November 2017

I visited the 'Everything At Once' show in The Strand this week. A sprawling exhibition of modern works placed across several floors of an old building that, no doubt, will soon by luxury apartments.

The work is largely video based with sound and code also used as a medium. Artists include Richard Long and the mighty Ryoji Ikeda, whose work I heard about via The Vinyl Factory and was the reason for my visit.

show7 Ryoji Ikeda’s Test Pattern No12

While I could go into detail about how interesting Ikeda's audio visual projection work is, I want to talk about my motivation for viewing this kind of work.

Art, rather than design, is a fantastic place to draw insights into problem solving. Like many other designers, I have plenty of Pinterest boards filled with examples of design work. But for me, these boards aren’t really ‘inspiring’, more a set of examples of the craft, trends or techniques.

I believe that humans have been around long enough that the problems we face personally, collectively and professionally have already been addressed in some way in the past or by a group of people who were trying to achieve something entirely different: artists have answers that can used to solve design problems.

The reason design insight can be found in art, is that they are so similar in terms of craft, but addressing different problems in a different environment. This difference means artists often approach and solve a problem in a different way to a designer but the answer provides insight that can be used directly in design.

I find experiencing work like Test Pattern No12, reading about what the artist is trying to say and seeing people interact with it insightful when thinking about my own work: Similar, but unrelated. Creative, but for different reasons. The output estranged but somehow, the same.

For me, if feels like the process, methods and ideas can somehow be taken and used to inform other creative work. Like Test Pattern No12 could have easily been a website for a corporate client.

To find insightful answers to your creative problem solving, you have to move beyond trend following or mimicry and look to other forms from different fields or even different periods in time. There you are likely to find people who have solved the same problems you have, but in ways you didn’t think of because the environment they are working in is different.

Everything At Once runs till 14th December 2017

Store Studios,
180 The Strand,
London, WC2R 1EA

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