Photography & Text by Zahira Asmal
The third day of our programme carried the WOW factor having visited both the Zaha Hadid Gallery and the Heatherwick Studios. But first, we commenced the day with a trip to the Design Museum and a tour of the The Future is Here and Designers in Residence exhibitions. I had a technical malfunction so was unfortunately unable to take photographs with my camera so instead used the camera on my phone. I am not sure these are great quality but I think you will get the essence of the amazing things we saw. After the Design Museum, we popped over to Made by Works and then to Aram Store to meet the colourful, award winning designer Bethan Laura Wood to see the exhibition: ZigZag: Crisscross, which shows a new collection of work inspired by London and Mexico City. Her work is research intensive and is influenced primarily by her travels and the small, local details that she finds fascinating in these two cities. We had a filling lunch at Mishkin where I learned about the challenges facing cultural and design intuitions in Russia from Sasha Sankova, the director of the Moscow Design Museum. This chat further highlighted that there are many countries across the world facing awful bureaucracy and are desperately searching for great political and social leadership. The International Design Connections programme further highlights the importance of solidarity and if opportunities exist – we ought to assist each other with information and sharing. After lunch we visited the gallery of the world-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid. We had the privilege of a guided tour of the firm’s private model archive and gallery. It is no wonder that this architect is one of the greatest of her time in the world. Thereafter, we visited the studio of Thomas Heatherwick. Sadly we were not permitted to take photographs as there were projects and some competitions that we would not be permitted to share. The tour of the studio and works was particularly focused on the subject of their exhibitions and how they go about the process of exhibition and story telling through these platforms. The work of Heatherwick’s studio is spectacular. Designer Neil Hubard was our tour guide of the works and the studio. Both Hadid and Heatherwick push boundaries and the limits of conventional architecture and design creating a signature and spirit of their own. Deniz Ova, director of the Istanbul Design Biennial, and I popped over to Wonderland & Re-imagined on 19 Greek Street in Soho to see some fantastic items of furniture design and art. I ended my day at the Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom tribute at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre. It was a wonderful way to end the day – in reflection of the great icon – his life and his achievements – a colourful homage in music, poetry and literature. I was invited by John Battersby, the UK country manager for Brand South Africa who was also one of the contributors alongside Ben Okri and Gillian Slovo – to name a few. A day well spent reflecting on the life of a great designer of a nation… And great designers of the world. Be sure to follow us on Twitter as I will be tweeting everyday as well as sharing our journey on Facebook. Twitter hashtags include #ConnectZA and #LDF13. Make sure to also visit British Council’s Back of the Envelope.