Northern Design Mart: A world of 3D print and chic design at The Globe

Posted on November 1, 2013


British novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton said art and science have their meeting point in method, so anyone curious about maker culture and artistic design would have found the Northern Design Mart event at Newcastle’s Globe Gallery a fascinating insight into the way we make things.

Craft and interactive works have been part of the exhibition scene for a long time and so the Globe creates events that encourage people to think more about the science of art and design. Following a series of installations and live music for this year’s British Science Festival, the design mart delved into 3D print with an appearance by the Scottish collective MakLab.

MakLab collective
MakLab is headquartered at The Lighthouse complex in Glasgow, home to a permanent exhibition of the incredible architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh and now a hub for 3D print. Its aim is to provide low cost access for everything from desktop manufacture to high-end additive manufacturing systems. As a collective it gives start-up companies access to the technology and a huge network of advisors and mentors to help them develop their ideas.

Networking opportunities are excellent and the organisation is a member of the Fab Lab project, which started as an outreach programme from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. There are now Fab Labs across the world, from rural India to Iceland, a global network sharing common tools and open source software.

MakLab’s Globe set-up included a Replicator 2X printer and three or four desktop engravers. Studio director Richard Clifford was keen to emphasise the collective’s educational programmes, though of course they had a couple of neat 3D printed sculptures, engravings and a nice wooden Yoda carving (see gallery above).

3D Challenge
The Globe was also carrying a flyer for a 3D Challenge event taking place at the neighbouring Discovery Museum. If you are aged between 14 and 25 you can sign up for this national design competition and win the right to have your product taken from concept to business reality. If you’re in the area, get yourself to the Discovery Museum on 13 November 2013 to find some inspiration.


Smash your idols
Artists like Andy Warhol smashed the boundaries between what we label product and art. Marcel Duchamp said that art was whatever he decided it was and if you’ve seen his urinal then you know he meant it. But can we easily talk about art and science in the same breath? Well, Da Vinci called the proper study of man the science of art and the art of science. In other words, method.

A thoughtful article from an artist working at the Cern Institute, Ariane Koek, says we must be careful about making comparisons. Art, science: not the same thing. Yet unifying both is an underlying principle: the desire to understand what makes us human and the world around us. Translating that desire into something useful is where design comes in.

Design for life
The Globe featured an array of contemporary northern designers as part of the Northern Design Mart. Furniture from Deadgood featured alongside modernist pieces from aspiring young designers. Upstairs it was more retro, like a set from Mad Men: luxury wallpaper, walnut cocktail cabinets and sculpted light fittings giving it a 1950s feel. Check it out:

Big draw
Artist David Shrigley has his own crude approach to art. Childlike, brutal, strewn with errors and swear words. He is one of the funniest and most appealing artists around. Asked in interview about the relevance of art schools he talked about his own experience. Illustrators are the ones who can draw, he said. Fine artists like himself cannot. Several illustrators were on display at The Globe and the work was sensational. It proved Shrigley’s adage, but I’ll let the pictures do the talking.