Mounted by the Centre for Innovation and Design in Grand Hornu, Belgium, AL(L) Projects in Aluminum is a collection of many of contemporary design’s most innovative works using the metal – not just those by Michael Young, but by a handful of his fellow designers as well.
From his Hong Kong studio, British-born Young has put aluminum’s qualities to good use, creating a diverse portfolio of objects that range from mass-produced lighting, chairs and other furnishings to collectible limited editions. Gathered together for AL(L) Projects in Aluminum they’re a testament to Young’s ability to switch gears, and to the utility of aluminum – a material with low cost, a pleasing lustre, and a high strength-to-weight ratio that allows for the creation of lighter products. That’s not to mention its adaptability, highlighted here in projects incorporating cast aluminum and aluminum sheeting, alloys, and even Young’s explorations into inflating molten aluminum into a foam-like structure.
As the latter demonstrates, Young has for years been at the forefront of new techniques for working with aluminum, and leveraging its versatility to put unique spins on everyday objects. To convey this, the CID’s exhibition includes a cross-section of Young’s experiments, including a set of his Oxygen chairs, which look like giant metallic muffins, alongside the molds they’re formed in, as well a silvery “cookie” of aluminum foam. The Hex line, produced as collectible pieces, is the outcome of research into the use of 3D modelling software; the table, sink and shelf were manufactured at a computer hardware factory and not intended for mass production.
These handmade pieces are joined by many of Young’s more pragmatic designs, such as his City Speed bicycle, produced for global cycle brand Giant (exhibited with parts of its aluminum frame exposed); Young’s entire Lancaster collection of chairs, tables and stools, made by Emeco from polished aluminum and oak; and both sculptural shelving and heat-sink-inspired cast aluminum pendants for EOQ.
A side chamber of the main exhibition space called the Crypt hosts an additional display of design objects, both historic and contemporary, selected by Michael Young with exhibition curator Maria Cristina Didero. Here, works by the pioneers of aluminum furniture design are represented – including Jean Prouvé, Charles and Ray Eames, and Marcel Breuer – as well as new icons like Barber Osgerby’s torch for the 2012 Olympics.
AL(L) Projects In Aluminum runs until May 29 at the Centre for Innovation and Design in Grand Hornu, Belgium.