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Icon 183 – Kengo Kuma’s living room for Dundee

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Icon is a monthly magazine focusing on the best, most inspiring buildings, interiors, furnishings and fittings. It also celebrates the design process and the talented designers behind the most innovative work. It can be enjoyed equally by architecture and design professionals, and the design-literate public.


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.

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