Art | Van der Postings

A design show blends the classic and the current

Past and present sit side by side in an unmissable new design exhibition

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A design show blends the classic and the current

Image: Iwan Baan

April 15 2011
Lucia van der Post

For many years in the 1960s, anybody yearning for the finest contemporary furniture had nowhere to go but Zeev Aram’s wonderful small shop on London’s King’s Road, where he introduced to dazzled British eyes many of the great modern design classics. Today, if you’re after the quirky, the avant-garde, the innovative, there are specialist boutiques in almost every city, but Aram is still making waves in the design world in his quiet, slightly austere way in the Aram Gallery in London’s Covent Garden.

What will be of great interest to design buffs is a current exhibition at the gallery, which he calls The Then-Now Show. For many years Aram would trawl the final-year shows of design colleges in the UK, gather up the finest work and put it on show in London. It’s fascinating to look back at the roster of names that he brought to his gallery – among them Thomas Heatherwick, Konstantin Grcic, Wakako Kishimoto, Corin Mellor, Luke Pearson, Jane Atfield – before anybody had heard of them. The Then-Now Show takes the earliest work of these now starry designers and puts it alongside some of their much more contemporary pieces.

So we will be able to see Thomas Heatherwick’s extraordinary Metal Thrones (second picture), made for his final-year show in 1991, alongside his pictures of the pavilion he designed for the UK at Shanghai Expo in 2010 (first picture). Corin Mellor came up with an extraordinary flexible market stall (sixth picture) for his degree show in 1988 and next to it will be shown the Black Handled knives he designed in 2007 (fifth picture; £138 for a set of five from David Mellor Design).

Peter Naumann’s fascination with transport showed itself early when he came up with his Anax single-seater helicopter for his 1991 degree show and there, beside it, is one of the most astonishing new motorcycles to appear this millennium, the Horex six-cylinder motorcycle (launching in October for about £17,000). Konstantin Grcic created his Briol chairs (fourth picture) for his 1990 show, and subsequently, of course, he’s gone on to design several world-renowned ones, of which the Chair One for Magis is possibly the most striking (third picture, £375 from Aram Store).

For those who are fascinated, as I am, by the work of young, creative minds, this is a show not to be missed. Those who can’t make it to the gallery, where the exhibition is on until April 24, can check all the images on the Aram Gallery website. Some of the pieces are available to buy from the Aram Store; others can be bought direct from the designers.