Dine with Design at the London showroom

© Antony Medley

Arper has launched a new initiative in collaboration with the Design Museum: Dine with Design.
Dine with Design is a programme of invite-only conversations on the most pressing topics in design and culture held at the world’s most historic place of discussion - the dinner table. Each intimate gathering is hosted at the London showroom and is attended by key members of the design, fashion and architecture sectors.

Dine with Design aims to foster debate and new relationships in support of culture and business, and in line with Arper’s promotion of an active dialogue across arts, architecture and design.

© Antony Medley

Fourth Dinner – 27 September 2017

The fourth and final discussion in the Dine with Design series explored some of the challenges faced by the fashion industry today, which in many ways are equally shared by the design sector.
As per the previous dinners, the discussion tackled a wide subject, highlighting a range of topics that sparkled engagement and debate among our guests.

© Antony Medley

The conversation was co-chaired by Julian Vogel, Trustee of the Design Museum and CEO of global creative brand communications agency modusBPCM, and Alistair O’Neill, Professor of Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins and curator of several acclaimed fashion exhibitions. Guests included: Erica Toogood Co-Founder, Designer and Pattern Cutter at Toogood; Jonathan Towle, Head of Marketing and Communications at Paul Smith; Design and style freelance journalist Becky Sunshine; Thomas Downes, Design Director at Faye Toogood; Theo Williams, independent designer and creative director and design director at Kingfisher; and architect Sally Mackereth owner of Studio Mackereth.
 
The topics addressed during the evening ranged from the opportunities and threats offered by technology, introducing the urge for more knowledge about making processes, through to our emotional relationship with fashion.

We explored how augmented reality is allowing an increasingly closer to real experience of “feeling” textiles, thus, challenging retail, where physical stores have so far played a key role in allowing a real physical interaction with both the garments and the brand.
In an increasingly fast-paced market, where younger generations consume fashion through social media, guests stressed the importance that storytelling has in creating both a strong bond with the consumer and a true mark of distinction.

Both the fashion and the design sectors are increasingly challenged by Instagram, which has an influence on the way booths are now designed at fairs, how products are displayed in retail, and how people engage with the creative work behind a catwalk or an installation. When the important message becomes declaring “I am here” through an Instagram post, how much is understood about the creative and making process behind a new collection, a setting or a product?

© Antony Medley

The dilemma led the conversation towards the theme of education. In fact, the fashion industry is experiencing, like other sectors, the lack of skill sets related to the making process, which in turn is leading to the difficulty of finding local manufacturers.
It was felt that there is a need for higher education to teach how to make things, how to understand materials and the making processes.
Along with the education sector it was asked whether design museums were properly playing a role in educating the public about the processes behind the creation of garments, the nature of materials, the skills required to design and produce and the impact that each piece of clothing has on our environment?
All questions that could similarly apply to the interior design sector.

Finally, guests spoke about ethics and the emotional relationship with clothes, acknowledging how consumers are becoming more environmental conscious and how the younger generation is shifting to an increasing appreciation for second hand, vintage and re-use, in line with a wider necessity to own less and share more.

This fourth event marked the conclusion of an exciting series of conversations in collaboration with the Design Museum. Hopefully, this is just the beginning, and the topics and ideas will continue to be discussed and shared on many further platforms.

Third Dinner – 20 June 2017

The third discussion in the Dine with Design Series focused on the value and purpose of colour in interior design. The theme was inspired by the Design Museum’s forthcoming exhibition “Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius”.

© Antony Medley

Guests included:
Alex Newson, Senior Curator, the Design Museum; Iris Dunbar, Director Interior Design School; Francesca Filippini Pinto, General Manager Christies South Kensington, Emma O’Kelly, Editor at Large at Wallpaper*; Laura Colapietro  Senior Account Director ING Media, Emma Colyer, MBE, Founder of Charity Body & Soul; Natalia Miyar, Director Natalia Miyar Atelier and Johanna Molineus, Founder Johanna Molineus Architects.

The theme generated an engaging and wide-ranging conversation enriched by the guests’ varied backgrounds and experiences.

© Antony Medley

Alex Newson started the discussion by exploring the subjectivity vs objectivity of colour. There is clearly an objective truth to the way in which colour – and light – behaves, however some colour may have a very different effect on each individual, due to personal preferences, cultural contexts, or even personal memories. This intriguing dualism continued to be referenced and challenged throughout the evening.
 
Iris Dunbar addressed the misconception that interior designers are slaves to trends, explaining that colour choices are actually pre-empted by an understanding of the client needs. Guests agreed that the interior designer must listen to and observe the client’s own responses to colour to best support the design process and meet their expectations.

The conversation also touched on how colour, light and space are crucial to our wellbeing. Designers have the opportunity and ability to specify colour and materials to create spaces that lift our spirits. With particular reference to this aspect, Emma Colyer shared her experience as founder of a charity dedicated to children and families from a diverse background who have experienced adversity. Earthy colours, reminiscent of nature, have a calming effect on the mind, and colour can be a tool that helps people express themselves.

An additional topic that was addressed is the influence that texture has on our perception of colour and how materials play a key role in shaping our feelings. This topic was analysed both from the interiors and the architecture point of view generating an open question on how designers make final decisions about colour in public spaces.

Colour is a fascinating subject: so passionate and subjective at the same time - the dinner could have lasted forever!

Second Dinner – 24 April 2017

The second discussion in the Dine with Design Series focused on Women in Architecture: the challenges that women face in the profession, and the changes that could be made to allow a desirable work/life balance.

© Antony Medley

Guests included:
Alice Black Director of the Design Museum; Jane Duncan President of the RIBA; Julia Barfield, Director of Marks Barfield Architects, Katy Ghahremani Director of Make Architects; Roger Ridsdill Smith, Senior Partner at Foster + Partners', Amy Frearson Editor of Dezeen.

Taking inspiration from the latest research on the subject, and guests’ personal backgrounds and experiences, the conversation addressed a range of topics.

© Antony Medley

Firstly, the lack of confidence that many women face in the profession and the critical role that mentoring plays in supporting careers and relationships in the organisations. Furthermore, the importance that women role models have in encouraging women’s career choices.

The benefits of flexible working as a way to retain staff and allow female architects to build on their career were also largely addressed, as well as the need to support women in their return to work after maternity leave and thus facilitating their access to senior positions.

The dinner ended with positive outlooks and enthusiasm with shared views on the steps that still need to be taken forward to make improvements and ensure more women are represented at senior level to achieve parity, and young girls are confident in studying and applying for any type of jobs in the industry.

Next in the Dine with Design series will be discussions on the purpose and value of colour in interior design and the most pressing issues facing the fashion industry today.

First dinner - 23 February

The first discussion in the Dine with Design series explored the future of museums in today’s challenging times.

Guests included Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum, Johanna Agerman Ross, curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Edwin Heathcote, Architecture and Design Critic for the Financial Times, Giulio Feltrin, Global Showroom Manager at Arper, Dr Harriet Harriss, from the Royal College of Art, Sarah Miller, Luxury Brand Ambassador for The Wall Street Journal (Europe), Kathy Stables, of KEF Consulting Limited and Mercia Cailloux, Patron of the Design Museum and her guest Diane Rulke.

© Antony Medley

The theme stimulated a lively conversation and much food for thought. The varied backgrounds of the invited guests led to a wide ranging discussion exploring the role of the modern museum and merging of the digital and physical world in temporary exhibitions.
The importance of conserving the key stories of the moment through museum collections was discussed at length throughout the event with the Design Museum and V&A’s collections cited as key examples.
The conversation also addressed the role of museums as an indispensable part of public space at a time when many of London’s spaces are increasingly privatised.

Design education and the importance of the making process was also discussed. Arper explained the role that company museums are increasingly playing in Italy, responding to the necessity of telling companies’s stories through heritage and manufacturing whilst reaching out to new audiences, and generating a new kind of tourism.
Next in the Dine with Design series will be discussions on the gender gap in architecture, the misunderstood world of interior design and the most pressing issues facing the fashion industry today.

© Antony Medley

Arper has been a supporter of the London’s Design Museum since 2015. Throughout the partnership the company started exploring how to enhance the collaboration by creating something unique together, and was delighted when the Museum welcomed the idea of creating this brand new activity, to be hosted at the showroom.

Through this event, Arper’s aspiration is to offer a platform where influencers and experts in the field of design and architecture can discuss current topics of interest, share ideas and take inspiration for future projects.

© Antony Medley

Each dinner is catered by Susanne James. Caterers of Distinction.

Showroom Arper
11 Clerkenwell Road
Londra EC1M 5PA

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