Our exhibition Beastly Designs, which looks at animal influenced design, is now open.
Animals have evolved over thousands of years to maximise the potential of their most defining characteristics, for example the long grasping fingers and arms of an ape, the coiling of a snake, the far reaching, curving neck of the brontosaurus, the streamlined aerodynamics of birds, and arguably, the poise, elegance and adaptability of the human form.
Plastics have become capable over the last hundred years of greater transformation in form, feel, strength and colour than any other material group.
This exhibition explores the near infinite transformability of plastics through ways in which designers working in plastics have exploited the distinctive features of animals to enhance the functionality of products. The objects are not simply creatures in miniature, but practical purposeful products. Either the entire animal or a part of it has been utilised in design to fulfil a useful function that enhances a product through association and often also brings an element of humour.
The exhibition also explores aspects of bio-mimetic design and demonstrates the potential of plastics to imitate luxury materials derived from animals and, thus, how plastics help to save endangered species.
Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)