Alexander Boxill’s rapid response graphics

London studio Alexander Boxill has designed graphics for a ‘rapid response’ V&A exhibition in Shenzhen, China, containing objects donated by local residents.

London studio Alexander Boxill has designed graphics for a ‘rapid response’ V&A exhibition in Shenzhen, China, containing objects donated by local residents.

The exhibition was curated by Corinne Gardner and Kieran Long and was launched to co-incide with the Shenzhen Biennale for Architecture and Urbanism. It contains 23 items that tell stories about the megacity and its residents and is part of a new ‘rapid response collection’ initiative the museum has been planning since adding a 3D printed gun to its permanent collection earlier this year.

Rapid response objects aren’t selected on aesthetic merit – the Shenzhen show includes a pair of school trousers and a counterfeit currency counter – but because they provide ‘a snapshot of the present’, reflecting how we interact with the spaces we live in and each other. The V&A is also planning to install a rapid response collection in London in May 2014.

Graphics for the show were produced in the UK before being shipped to China and are designed to be flexible and easily updated, says creative director Violetta Boxill.

“We didn’t know what was going to be in the exhibition until the very last minute,” she says. “Andreas Lechthaler, the exhibition designer, came up with the idea of having objects on one huge table with some kind of pattern, and we decided on a peg board to give it some uniformity,” she adds.

Exhibition labels were printed using a standard inkjet printer before being hole punched and attached to yellow metal carriers, which can be easily fastened to the table.

“We had the carriers made here so we could control the production quality – they’re very simple, but we needed every detail to be just right to give it continuity,” explains Boxill.

Title graphics were also kept simple – individual letters were printed on to a series of yellow tags which were pinned to a verticle peg board. As well as being flexible, the scheme was designed to fit in any space, as Boxill knew little about the venue when designing for the show.

“Initially, it seemed quite daunting but once we embraced the fact that we didn’t know what was going to be in it, it all fell into place. Andreas and I worked very closely together, which I think really helped the process,” she says.

The Shenzhen Biennale runs until January 2014. For details, click here.

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