Design Curation: Embracing the Utilitarian

Nolan Talbot-Kelly

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Installation just past the Libby Leshhold gallery on the left. Enter through main entrance (south west).

Design Curation: Embracing the Utilitarian is a series of propositional objects that explore how alternative modes of designing and production can challenge our culture of excess. Each work represents physical research into how both self imposed and outside limitations dictate possible design outcomes.

The overarching rules that lead this practice are as follows:

  • Design with what already exists and is readily available; use found objects, diverted waste or off-the-shelf components
  • Alter the materials minimally; embrace the narrative of the material’s past or imagined lives.
  • Design for technical transparency show how things come together so others can replicate.
  • Design for disassembly ensure the pieces can be assembled and disassembled using only a wrench.
  • Design for disassembly ensure the pieces can be assembled and disassembled using only a wrench.

These rules are followed as closely as possible. Other parameters are more transient, imposed and followed until no longer necessary, in which case they are bent or abandoned all together. The role of the designer is to choose when to follow or abandon the rules.

The values that inform this practice illustrate a mode of designing that prioritizes resourcefulness and intuition while aiming to evolve the perceived value of objects.

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Nolan Talbot-Kelly

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Nolan is a designer and artist drawing inspiration from architectural and utilitarian details that surround us but are often overlooked. He designs and makes furniture, lighting and propositional objects. Nolan’s practice often prioritizes designing with things that already exist in our industrialized world and giving them new life by playfully changing the context within which they are used and experienced. His process is driven by self imposed limitations often prioritizing practicality, in attempts to understand how restriction influences the making and final results.

Nolan’s work is concerned with both the aesthetics and the narrative of the materials used. Steps are taken to illuminate not hide how things come together and the intrinsic qualities of the materials themselves. By posing questions and illustrating possible alternative modes of designing and making the objects he creates are both functional and speculative. His work encourages the viewer to reconsider the status quo by offering a re-contextualization of the mundane things, rituals, and values our society surrounds ourselves with and the role they play in our lives. By shifting the context in which these details are interpreted, he challenges what we consider functional and the spaces in which art can be found.

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