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Behind the Scenes at Show 2019: Innovation & Collaboration

Show 2019 was an exciting display of the best in emerging art and design practice, but examples of innovation didn’t end with the works on display. 

Working with Show designers Regular Practice (MA Visual Communication, 2017), the RCA commissioned recent alumnus Damian Fopp (MA Design Products, 2017) to design a 3D signage and wayfinding system to help guide visitors around the complex exhibition space. Born out of a very practical need, the project highlights the breadth of design practitioners emerging from the College – from graphic designers to product designers, and from material innovators to makers – and the value of alumni collaboration.

The brief asked for a freestanding wayfinding system that could adapt to different scales, be used both indoors and out, and which would be streamlined, sustainable and easy to store. Damian, who won the Swiss Design Awards ‘Products and Objects’ category the year he graduated from the RCA and whose work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Applied Arts Vienna and the Zurich Design Museum, was up for this challenge. He constructed a confident but minimalist proposal that necessitated careful material choice, to ensure both structural and aesthetic integrity. He turned to a high-specification architectural material, Marmoreal, developed by fellow RCA alumnus Max Lamb (MA Design Products, 2008) and produced by Dzek Ltd

Marmoreal – which means ‘real marble’ –  has been described as the ‘rebellious child of the Terrazzo Family’ by Vicky Richardson, former Director of Architecture, Design and Fashion at the British Council. Throughout his career, Max Lamb has established a process- and material-driven approach to design, with an interest in the tension between hand-made craft methods and high-tech industrial processes. Marmoreal is both innovative and historically-aware, with a clear nod to the craft tradition of terrazzo that has used waste off-cuts to form aggregate materials since the fifteenth-century. A composite of four different Italian marbles of varying scale, the addition of polyester resin adds strength and durability, which were a key consideration for Damian’s designs for the wayfinding system.

For the final piece of the puzzle, Damian’s designs were turned into a reality by designer-makers Studio in Place (Adam Blencowe and Thor ter Kulve, both MA Design Products, 2015), who constructed the finished wayfinding system from slabs of Marmoreal. 

The RCA would like to thank Dzek Ltd for providing Show 2019 with Marmoreal, used in the construction of the wayfinding system.