If you’re a mid-career designer, no doubt you look back at your student work with a twinge of horror: Was I really that clueless? That unskilled? Did I honestly think tossing around parametric this and transformative that made me sound smarter? Now imagine if someone took that work, and tacked it on a museum wall.
This is not just an unpleasant thought experiment. This is something the Design Museum Holon, in Israel, has actually done, with Designers Plus Ten, a showcase of the creative output of 42 Israeli designers now, and about a decade ago, when they were fresh-faced design students. "In Designers Plus Ten we wish to present the people behind the objects, and how they have evolved over the past ten years," says chief curator Galit Gaon.
The show highlights a range of disciplines—including fashion, industrial design, and digital communication—and covers wildly varied professional trajectories. There is OTOTO Studio, a pair of industrial-design students who achieved instant success with a spiral-shaped light fixture they designed in school that went on to become a popular-selling fruit basket. Then there is Frau Blau, a fashion label that produced this rather unflattering dress made of knit gloves early in its career, then went on to design more sophisticated trompe l’oeil garments.
If there’s a lesson in any of this, it’s that our student years are not our destiny: They’re a time to try out ideas that sometimes work (see aforementioned fruit bowl) and sometimes—more often, actually—fail (see mitten dress). Either way, our careers don’t hinge on them. And luckily, for most of us, our student projects never wind up in a museum.
Designers Plus Ten is open until May 19.
[Images courtesy of Design Museum Holon]