The London Design Festival 2015: Curiosity Cloud (Mischer’Traxler)

Over the past week London has been the staging the Design Festival. Not to miss out, yesterday we got up earlier than usual, jumped on a Victoria bound train and headed to the V&A Museum to view some, not all, of the design movement which is scattered around the city. As we had arrived to the museum relatively early, it didn’t feel busy, the assistant at the entrance handed us a map and gave us a few recommendations. “Curiosity Cloud is amazing, get in the room before you have to queue!” she said with excitement. So we did just that, and we weren’t disappointed.

We entered a dimly-lit baroque interior (The Norfolk House Music Room)  with a handful of visitors. Curiosity Cloud is an installation made up of hanging mouth-blown  glass globes. Roughly around 250 globes. The glass is made from a Viennese glass company Lobmeyr. Inside each globe is a handmade insect which has been printed into laser cut foil and then embroidered to create the body. As I later found out, around 25 insect species which fall into the following categories were made: extinct, common and newly discovered. There was a tranquil, non-threatening atmosphere in the room. The representations of insects softly flickered and glowed within their glass space. However, when you walked closely around the globes, the insects would become much more animated. A sensory device activated by body temperature, I later learned. What a captivating concept to explore relationships between humans and the entomological world, I thought. I was even fortunate enough to speak to one of the designers, Thomas Traxler, who had collaborated with boutique champagne house, Perrier-Jouet on his project. He gave me some insight into the thought process behind the installation.

If you want to catch this rather impressive installation then you’ll need to head to the Champagne region of France.

Thomas Traxler having a word with my daughter, Moe.  Probably telling her not to get her greasy mits on the glass! 


During the day we saw many other interactive innovations and we were able to talk freely to all the designers too. Notable work included: Decentralisation and Data control by Industrial Design Graduate, Sarah Gold. Fixperts, solving problems by drawings with Mia which my daughter really enjoyed. Also, the video game Killbox,  which I assumed was just another video game with minimalistic, stylish graphics. However, the concept behind the game has rather serious, sinister connotations involving drone warfare.

On reflection, being able to openly speak to the designers made all the difference. I could learn more about their practice and the thought process as a result. Even something small such as my perception of the word ‘interface’ has changed (A layer(s) enabling a user to communicate with a machine). As a designer said to me, a casual interface could be simply knocking on a door or waving from a train window.





Maquette No 2: Construction (Part 2 )

To make the base sturdy, the wood chipboard and shoji paper are taped onto the polystyrene (Fig 7). The wood chipboard side being the base of the maquette (Fig 8).


Holes are made into each corner of the polystyrene (Fig 9). The wooden sticks are cut 30cms in length (monitor screen height) and are inserted into each hole (Fig 10). The Vinyl decoration sheets are used as partitions. They are measured, cut and placed onto the wooden sticks (Fig 11). The tin foil lid acting as a shower head is taped to the roof of the maquette (Fig 12).

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The cling film is painted with watercolour paint (Fig 13). The film is wrapped around a wooden stick 45cms in length (monitor screen length) and is suspended horizontally from each partition.  Interior angle views (Fig 14&15). The decoration lights are arranged around the roof of the maquette (Fig 16).

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The props are placed inside the maquette interior and the maquette is positioned in front of the monitor, side view angle (Fig 17). Watercolour paint is put into the PET bottle and a little water is added (Fig 18). The PET bottle experimentation process will be filmed later.

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