Design news: menopause pottery, the water crisis and the team behind Amazon’s smile | Design

This month’s news covers water, light and the need to make and mend. There are stories on everything from Amazon’s Smile to celebrating the menopause with ceramics. For more features and articles like this, sign up to our monthly Design Review newsletter.

Max Hooper Schneider’s Exurbia paludarium, 2023. Photograph: Paul Salveson/Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Head to Sadie Coles’s London gallery this month and you’ll find a group show that shines a light on an interesting area of art. The creative possibilities of lamps and pendants have long fascinated artists, and the exhibition Shine On brings together sculptural lights made by artists including Sarah Lucas, Cerith Wyn Evans and Jim Lambie. While the designs are an impeccable study of the possibilities of light, shade and form, Shine On is displayed as if these pieces are for sale in a lighting showroom or department store. The backdrop is a painting by Alex Da Corte, referencing a mural created for the famous New Jersey store Jo Skymer Lighting. This exhibition design makes it impossible to look at the art without imagining shopping for homeware.

American sculptor Max Hooper Schneider’s piece, Exurbia, may well be an indictment of human pollution of the marine ecosystem, but the beautiful tableau filled with tiny Tiffany lights would also make a great night light for a children’s bedroom. I’d personally like to put Hong Kong born Cary Kwok’s golden phallus wall lamp Arrival (Jazz) by my front door – just to watch visitors and passersby double take.

Shine On is at Sadie Coles HQ London until 27 April

The famous Amazon smile logo.

Design agency Turner Duckworth was founded in 1992, and it’s safe to say it isn’t a household name. But many of the logos and campaigns that the company has created are recognisable around the globe. From reviving the Coca-Cola bottle to creating the Amazon logo, this design agency has envisaged the colours, shapes and objects that fill our homes and lives.

This month sees the publication of I Love It. What is it?, a book of essays and illustrations of Turner Duckworth’s greatest hits from the last three decades, which is a fascinating insight into the hopes that brands such as McDonald’s have for their marketing, and how a small design agency with the right approach can make a big difference.

Unsurprisingly, this book is well designed and full of zingers – including the nugget that when Jeff Bezos saw the Amazon Smile logo he agreed to it on the spot. When his team asked if they should market research it, Bezos replied: “Anyone who doesn’t like this logo doesn’t like puppies.”

Minott Wessinger, who specialises in drinks marketing reveals that, as a result of his work using hip hop in commercials, he ended up in the studio when Dr Dre and Tupac Shakur first played back the track California Love. Though Wessinger admits: “That scene has been depicted in the movie Straight Outta Compton and a Tupac biopic, but in neither is there a middle-aged white guy standing there in a blue blazer.”

Full of anecdote, philosophy, and insight, you really will love I Love It.

I Love It. What Is it? (Phaidon) is out now


Female stories at Collect

A vase from the A Menopause in Majolica range by Katrin Moye. Photograph: Katrin Moye

As Collect, the British Crafts Councils annual fair, celebrates its 20th year in 2024, it’s good to see that not only are female artists strongly represented, but women’s stories are taking centre stage too.

As well as featuring some career best work from textile artists such as Margo Selby and Alice Kettle, and origamist Angela Fung, there are great pieces which speak directly to the female experience. Julia Hall’s hand-embroidered garments on show at Collect tell the stories of resilient refugee women and how they assimilate; Iranian-born artist Batool Showghi’s mixed-media pieces, look at cultural and religious limits imposed on women. South African Indian artist Talia Ramkilawan’s textile art is inspired by her analysis of queer identity and her relationships with friends and family. Ceramicist Katrin Moye uses her skill to make art from the menopause with A Menopause in Majolica, ornate vessels in the Italian renaissance style associated with hospitals and apothecaries which, in Moye’s creative hands, are decorated with designs referencing the brain fog, rage and insomnia many women experience at this time.

This year Collect plays host to 40 galleries representing over 400 artists worldwide.

Collect is at Somerset House, London, from 1-3 March

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An image from Water Pressure depicting campaigners awaiting the arrival of Barack Obama in Flint, Michigan, 2016. Photograph: LaToyaRubyFrazier

The global water crisis gets closer to catastrophe with each passing year. While floods have devastated many countries, many countries are also facing extreme water stress – meaning they use over 80% of their water supply each year. By 2050, water demand around the world is projected to increase by between 20% and 25%. In the last decade, several cities have faced “Day Zero”, the moment when a city’s taps run dry.

A new exhibition at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg showcases ideas and designs that look at different ways we can change our currently catastrophic relationship with water. Covering everything from the the industrialisation of water and the Living Breakwaters project in New York made by Scape Landscape Architecture. The exhibition is curated by Jane Withers, who spoke at Salone last year about her obsession with water. “I’d always been interested in global bathing cultures – Ancient Greece and Rome, the Namibians, Indonesian temple culture, Indian step-wells… So many of the ways we treat water today no longer make sense in the context of the water crisis. It’s madness that we flush drinking water down the loo or let rain run away.”

Water Pressure: Designing for the Future is at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg from 15 March–13 October

A still from The Last Repair Shop, a short film which has been nominated for an Oscar. Photograph: The Last Repair Shop

“I wonder what little hands held the instrument before me?” muses Paty. She works at a Los Angeles warehouse mending instruments for LA’s musical students, and her story is part of the magical documentary The Last Repair Shop.

Since 1959, Los Angeles has been one of the few American cities to supply and fix musical instruments for its school children at no cost. This Oscar-nominated short film tells the story of four people – Paty, Duane, Dana and Steve – who work as repairers, and some of the children whose instruments have been resurrected by their team.

The students’ accounts of the hope, structure and joy that musical instruments bring to their lives are extremely moving – as is the message of the importance of trying to fix broken things. The real revelation is the repair team who make all this possible.

Dana describes how music helps him accept himself as a gay man and find happiness with his husband and family. Paty was the first woman to work at the repair shop and the difference this stable job made to her as a single mother was life changing. Duane was inspired to play by James Whale’s Frankenstein, because childhood bullying made him feel like a monster. He grew up to play with Frank Sinatra and once opened for Elvis with his band Bodie Mountain Express. Steve, who is Armenian, had to leave his guitar behind when he fled Azerbaijan as a refugee, but his American sponsor helped him train as a piano tuner. These people were made to feel whole again through music and they want to help LA’s children feel that same joy.

“A lot of people see a broken thing and think it’s just broken,” explains Dana, “but when we see a broken thing we think, with a little something here and a little something there we can make it whole again.”

The Last Repair Shop is on YouTube now and is shortlisted for the Short Documentary Oscar, which will be announced on 10 March

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