Art, Craft, Design

Within the first week we were already off on our first trip to London, with the main focus being on the Victoria & Albert museum. Whilst we were there, we were asked to find 3 objects that to us are the embodiment of “Art”, “Craft” and “Design” respectively. It was a very chaotic day so I didn’t get the chance to view all of what the V&A had to offer, but I did manage to find something to represent each word.

Below are the pieces I have chosen, along with my own personal definition of each word.


Art Piece

An Art piece is generally communicating something to its audience: This could be through using aesthetics, audio or providing an experience. They usually seek to evoke emotion or some sort of feeling in the viewer.

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Max Jacquard – “Brick Man” 2002 . Slumped, cut and sand-blasted float glass, bound with wire.

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“Brick Man” detail.

A piece that I feel falls into this category was Max Jacquard’s “Brick Man”. Jacquard describes the piece as an attempt to reflect the sense of isolation, self-protection and perhaps a certain brittle vulnerability felt by the artistic ego. It’s this concept that I think sets this piece firmly in the fine art category. It has no other use than to be thought provoking and look aesthetically pleasing.The piece itself is presented in such a captivating way: Suspended by 3 wires with a delicate light protruding from above, the piece has a very ominous appearance that draws you in to investigate it closer. This is in complete contrast to the body language of the figure. In particular the positioning of the hands make the figure seem closed off and distant. The effect of the separate glass pieces coming together to form this figure give it a mummy-like appearance, which is also emphasising the point of the figure being self-contained and confined.

I think the concept behind the piece is an important one. Many artists are very closed off when it comes to their ideas and processes. This leaves them trapped inside a bubble of their own creativity, which can only limit the breadth of their work. Art should always be about drawing inspiration from others and sharing ways of making.


Craft Piece

A Craft piece should have a strong decorative quality to it. They can be functional, are generally handmade, and fit well in a household setting.

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Key, steel, pierced and chiselled with traces of gilding. France; 16th century.

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Key figure detail.

This key is a functional object and has obviously been designed to fit into a specific lock. However, I think that the overly ornate characteristics of it overshadow the design aspects, propelling it further into craft than design. I’m unsure as to how exactly the key was formed as there was very little information on it; but from what I understand the details were made through chiselling and piercing the steel by hand. This would have taken immense skill and craftsmanship, especially when considering the scale of the key: For example, the figure (detail displayed on the right) was around 2cm in height and less than 1cm in width. I really enjoy the idea of taking an overlooked and commonplace item such as a key and turning it into something beautifully decorated, making the viewer stop and actually inspect the object more closely than they usually would. I’d quite like to look more into keys and locking mechanisms and maybe even produce my own at some point.


Design Piece 

A design piece should inherently be functional. It should effortlessly full-fill its role and is normally made to solve some sort of problem or make a certain task easier.

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Tulipifera Sharpeners – Commissioned by Norman Foster, designed with Norie Motsumoto. American tulipwood.

These pieces are part of “The Wish List” project. 10 illustrious names in design and architecture were invited to each nominate an emerging talent, to collaborate on a very open brief: “What have you always wanted in your home, but never been able to find?”. These pieces in particular were created to fulfil the criteria of, “…a family of sharpeners for three sizes of pencil”. I can’t say this is something that I’ve ever actually needed or wanted, but I can still appreciate the design of these objects. I really like the minimalistic direction Motsumoto took with this piece. It leaves room to appreciate the subtleties of the tulipwood, letting the viewer trace the grain around the whole object rather than seeing each face as a separate plane of being. The geometric forms she has used remind me of a simple drawing exercise that I used to do practising tone; It’s almost as if these shapes are actually a homage to the pencil itself.

Whilst doing further research on this design piece I found out that each sharpener actually has a custom base for it be placed upon. It’s a shame these weren’t displayed together in the V&A as I feel the bases really tie the pieces together; accentuating the relationship between the 4 objects.

Sharpeners with their bases.


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