Icon 183 – Kengo Kuma’s living room for Dundee
Icon 183 – Kengo Kuma’s living room for Dundee: An exclusive look at the first V&A outside London. Plus: Shopftont Mosques are powerful religious architecture, Patricia Urquiola on Achille Castiglioni, and the enduring appeal of the Emeco Navy chair.
What do a musical instrument, a Beirut street, an ad hoc mosque and a new museum in Dundee have in common? ‘Very little,’ would be most people’s response. Yet whatever their differences, they emerge as constituent parts of a multifarious jigsaw that comprises the material world. As physical entities, they enable us to ask questions about their manifestation: Who created them? Why? And what was their purpose?
The point of such an exercise? To unlock a deeper understanding of design and how its boundaries as a discipline are being challenged. Design theorist Victor Papenek observed how design is not just a stage in commercial production, but a way of thinking. In Design for the Real World (1971), he wrote: ‘Design is composing an epic poem, executing a mural, painting a masterpiece, writing a concerto. But design is also cleaning and reorganising a desk draw, pulling an impacted tooth, baking an apple pie, choosing sides for a backlot baseball game and educating a child.’
This issue of Icon concerns a variety of projects that sit at the cutting-edge of design thinking, whether consciously or not. The V&A Dundee by Kengo Kuma is a striking architectural expression commissioned by an institution with a long history tied to the establishment, yet it melds with its environment and tries to create a much-needed space for the city’s people.