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United Kingdom

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Sam Jacob Studio has completed the exhibition design for the inaugural show at the new Design Museum, London. The exhibition, titled Fear And Love: Reactions to a Complex World features 11 original installations by designers encompassing a diverse range of disciplines and subject matter including OMA/AMO, Hussein Chalayan, Andrés Jaque and Metahaven.

The Financial Times review noted: "The exhibition design, by Sam Jacob Studio, is simple and superb, with sinister grey pleated curtains making sense of a route through the space and adding a touch of medicalisation and mystery."

The design plays on the ambiguity at the heart of the exhibition, creating a curving 'soft baroque' plan. A 190 metre long curtain acts a single, simple gesture winding through the gallery to create a variety of opposing spatial sensations. It forms rooms, loose enclosures and alcoves that shift between open and closed, inside and outside, small and large, dark and light.

The curtain guides visitors through the space and frames the individual installations creating variety but with a controlled consistency throughout the show.

Materially, the design uses a simple palette of curtains to create a visual language that is not easily placed. A dark grey translucent PVC gives a futuristic and industrial feel, while its sharp and sinuous folds suggest a sense of luxury. This is contrasted with a Kvadrat felt curtain that gives sensations of warmth and texture. The combination of these materials creates rich and varying effects of translucency and enclosure.

Signage and communication was developed with graphic designers OK-RM. Information is displayed on freestanding custom designed bent steel frames that recall street furniture, while a passivated finish gives an unusual iridescent effect.

At the entrance to the gallery a striking neon and two way mirror totem advertises the exhibition to the foyer of the museum while acting as an atmospheric introduction. The totem appears at first as a blank mirrored box, then as the neon sequence lights up, appears as a deep infinity reflection.

Sam Jacob commented: “To design the first show at the new Design Museum was both an honour and a challenge - a way to mark a new era in London’s design culture. The subject of Fear and Love was always more of a mood than a statement. Our design attempts to embody this ambivalence in a way that adds mystery and imagination”

Justin McGuirk, curator of Fear And Love and chief curator at the Design Museum said: “Sam Jacob Studio’s exhibition design was central to setting the mood of Fear and Love: it creates a dream-like space that, in the most elegant way, heightens the sense of uncertainty that the exhibition explores.”

Chloë Leen, who led the project for Sam Jacob Studio said: “It has been a great privilege to work with 11 designers at the forefront of shaping contemporary practice. Our design creates a unifying experience, choreographing these varied complex ideas and installations, while the spaces and moods of the exhibition design give each a distinct quality. This duality was at the heart of the de-sign challenge that the museum’s curatorial position presented.”

Fear and Love runs from 24th November 2016 to 23rd April 2017.