London exhibit showcases how designers repaired 'broken' objects


The 'R For Repair' exhibition runs until Nov 2 at the V&A Museum in London. Photo: AFP

Do you throw it away or try to repair it? That's the first question that comes to mind with broken objects.

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is opting for the latter option in its new exhibition, R For Repair: London x Singapore. This exhibition was conceived in partnership with the DesignSingapore Council and Singapore's National Design Centre.

The latter hosted the first edition of R For Repair in January 2021.

At the time, the establishment invited its visitors to submit damaged objects that they particularly liked. These were then entrusted to designers who fixed them up with a new look, all while preserving their original character.

The second edition of the exhibition follows the same principle, except that it incorporates objects from both Britain and Singapore. Designers and design studios from both countries have reinvented broken items in innovative ways.

One example is a wooden puffin belonging to Oli Stratford. Its owner had always been fond of this decorative object, which he named "Graham Secrets" after his parents gave it to him for his 30th birthday.

"Unfortunately, Graham was attacked in the night by my cat Edward, and the poor lad has never been the same since," he writes in an explanatory note, displayed next to the penguin as part of the R For Repair exhibition.

The object was repaired by Singapore's Ng Si Ying, restoring its former glory by using a complex rattan weaving technique.

Elsewhere in the exhibition, visitors can discover a saucer from Maxim's that STUDIO DAM repaired at the request of Andrew and Karen Birkin.

Andrew's sister, Jane Birkin, is said to have stolen this porcelain plate from the famous Parisian restaurant on New Year's Eve in 1975. However, she reportedly dropped it that evening. The design agency used metal staples to repair it, as a nod to the film A Space Odyssey that Andrew Birkin worked on early in his career.

The ingenuity of STUDIO BAM and all the other designers participating in R For Repair shows how simple - and fun - it can be to give a second life to damaged objects.

Jane Withers, one of the curators of the exhibition, suggests that the show contributes to reviving the art of repair and bringing it back to the forefront.

"(This initiative) celebrates the possibilities of repair as a creative process, something that adds new layers to an object’s identity and meaning - addressing the ‘emotional’ as well as the ‘functional’," she explains in a statement.

The R For Repair: London x Singapore exhibition runs until Nov 2 at London's V&A Museum as part of the London Design Festival. - AFP

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