Going to the opening of the Design Museum in its grand new west London emporium has made me think about its antecedent Boilerhouse Project which was no more than a creative cell in the basement of the V&A where Stephen Bayley held court in a glass office surrounded by piles of magazines. I have discovered that John Pawson actually designed one of the early exhibitions which I half remember – a big wedge which required one to crouch down in order to see the objects on display. The other exhibition I remember was an exhibition on Taste in which Stephen had asked various luminaries to select objects representative of their taste. Alexander Shouvaloff, the then Director of the Theatre Museum, selected Michelin maps. I hope and assume (actually, I think I know) that someone is documenting its history.
8 thoughts on “Boilerhouse Project”
How right you are to pay tribute to Stephen Bayley.
The tentative place of the Boilerhouse squatting at the V&A, perhaps both symbiotic and parasitic, gave it the confidence to be not just highly creative but also rather mischievous. My favourite show there was about national characteristics in design. It managed to be simultaneously insightful and hilarious in identifying national stereotypes. I still miss the Boilerhouse’s brave combination of intelligence and parody.
It feels as if it has been left out of the prehistory, maybe because it’s such a long time ago. Charles
Prompted by this post I’ve just been on the design museum website reminiscing with the aid of their list of exhibitions which were held at the Boilerhouse. https://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/past-exhibitions I can remember the excitement of going to many of them as a late teen/ early 20 something. What I can’t find any reference to – perhaps I dreamt it – was an exhibition featuring Japanese pachinko machines. There is an image of the Pawson exhibition here: http://www.johnpawson.com/works/boilerhouse-exhibition/
I do hope that the Design Museum in its new location will continue its sterling education work. My eldest (now studying computer science at Warwick University) did a very good three day workshop there with the electronics artist Yuri Suzuki. It was huge fun and not that expensive.
Dear Joan, Thank you. You have located the full list of exhibitions at the Boilerhouse which I failed to. I also remember them as being lively and very inventive. Charles
My first job: working on the reception desk in the Boilerhouse during John Pawson’s Handtools installlation and listening to the stream of complaints from visitors infuriated by what they perceived to be a victory of the designer’s ego over the function of the exhibition. Stephen seemed to think it was rather middle brow to expect to see the exhibits.
Dear Helen, So have you seen the new Museum yet ? You have seen it at close quarters through its various incarnations. Charles
Not yet! I’ve heard very good things about it, so am looking forward to a leisurely visit at the end of term.