To the uninitiated, there can be something almost miraculous about the way in which even the humblest products are manufactured. Product designers Barber Osgerby explore their own fascination with such processes in a new show at the Design Museum, In the Making. Over 20 objects are plucked mid-manufacture from the factory floor. Exhibited in an unfinished state, they reveal the unexpected and surprising methods that lie behind the creation of some of our most familiar objects. Here, we showcase a selection of some of the objects featured in the show along with Barber Osgerby’s commentary. Photography by György Körössy.
Diamond cut crystal glass. Paused at 10%. This piece of glass is destined to become optic lenses used for binoculars or telescopes. A man-made material, it has the feeling of a gem or crystal.
Two pound coin
Blank pressed metals. Paused at 60%. Until we designed the £2 coin we had no idea how the two metals were joined. This is the last moment before the two parts of the coin become permanently fixed. In one motion they are stamped together and the impression of the design is also created.
Cut Willow cleft. Paused at 10%. Characterised by the properties of English Willow, bats are still handcrafted to exploit the quality of the material for each individual cleft. We chose an early stage in the process to celebrate the nature of the wood. The cleft has the pitched roof profile cut into the back, defining the form as a cricket bat.
Braised and ‘planished’ brass. Paused at 75%. This object was chosen for its sheer beauty. It exemplifies the aesthetic of handcrafted metal work. The straight tube and flared bell are reminiscent of a traditional herald trumpet, but with pleasingly exaggerated proportions. Production is paused prior to the first bend just before it assumes its recognisable character.
Hand moulded marble stick. Paused at 70%. As children we must have all wondered how marbles are made, holding them up to the light and turning them to try to discover how the colourful spirals have been formed. We particularly like the moment just before the first marble is separated, pausing the process to retain the sculptural beauty of the marble stick.
CNC machined aluminium. Paused at 20%. It was an inspired move to machine laptops from billets of aluminium as opposed to multi-part plastic mouldings. The process has been paused after the second cut, with the signature rounded corners and the negative space for the hinge fixing. The rawness of the aluminium has an elemental tactility and unrefined beauty.
In the Making is at the Design Museum, London SE1 until May 4, designmuseum.org