June 22, 2021

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Power of Making

Victoria and Albert Museum
6 September 2011 – 2 January 2012

There are three types of making: adding, subtracting and transforming. The V&A
aims to take visitors on a journey through these processes to explore the cultural,
historical and physical consequences of the objects in our world and the people who
made them.

Some of the most interesting objects were not the big or shiny – read gorillas made
of coathangers and giant knitted scarves – but those that revealed something about
the maker or the purpose of design and ideas sharing. For example, glass blower
Matt Durran’s ‘face saving’ nose cartilage moulding, an innovative amalgamation of
design and medicine used for growing new cells to create synthetic body parts.

The Power of Making also addressed important questions about the nature of
knowledge and idea transfer central to both design and science. Mike Sheldrake’s
cardboard surfboard and a do-it-yourself Fendi handbag reflected the current trend
for open source ideas and hacking; a play-dough like material called Sugru marketed
under the strapline ‘Hack things better’ is another collaboration between science and

The exhibition is quite cluttered, but this is not to its detriment, with a mixture of
objects at all eye levels, in cases and dangling from the ceiling. According to the
curators there is no set route for exploring the space, however there is something
about British group mentality which predictably leads visitors to mainly move about
the room in a clockwise direction. A subtle soundscape of hammering and drilling
gives the impression of being in a workshop and is augmented by the constant level
of discussion in this popular exhibition. The Power of Making is worth the trip for
anyone interested in pushing the limits of design and how the social environment is
reflected in all crafted objects.

Image: V&A