What defines a classic of 21st-century design? Technological innovation? A novel use of materials? Social responsibility? Or just plain good looks? The Victoria & Albert’s recent purchase of eight contemporary pieces by Fredrikson Stallard, Nendo, BCXSY, Platform, and Satyendra Pakhalé could provide some insight into such a determination. The acquisitions were made with nearly £100,000 (approximately $160,000) from the Outset Contemporary Art Fund.
At first blush, the list of chosen designers seems pretty arbitrary. Sure, the Japanese studio Nendo and the British duo Fredrikson Stallard are well-known, but where are the usual suspects — Konstantin Grcic, Yves Béhar, or Naoto Fukasawa, to name but a few? And, oddly, nearly half (three of the eight) of the pieces are from Nendo. Turns out, there’s some logic to the seeming randomness: “When choosing the works, we focused on what we needed for forthcoming exhibition and gallery projects to assure that these objects will be on display shortly,” Jana Scholze, V&A’s curator of modern furniture and product design, told Co.Design. The upcoming shows include British Design 1948?2012, which will coincide with next year’s Olympic Games, India Design Now, slated for fall 2012, and a proposed exhibition on Japanese contemporary design.