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Insider Guide to Bloom Exhibition @ RMIT Design Hub

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by Lionel (subscribe)
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An Exclusive Interview with Design Hub Curator Kate Rhodes
bloom rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Tobas Titz

Visitors who attended the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics games in London may remember sighting a large spiralling exoskeleton of neon pink plastic ribs that was part of the Wonder series. Entitled 'BLOOM', this interactive "art-itectural" installation was commissioned by the Greater London Authority and designed and developed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez representing The Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL, London. Alisa is an architect, curator and founding principal of Biothing who teaches at UCL, and Jose is a architect, programmer and game designer based in Los Angeles.

Like a giant Lego set, the project consists of 60,000 identical copies of units also called 'Bloom Cells' which can be used to assemble different formations. Instead of a fixed design, the public is invited to play with the pieces like a toy and create new formations. In this way, the public would also learn about structures, patterns and sequences as they help new designs to "bloom".

You don't have to make a trip to London to play with this fascinating urban toy. RMIT Design Hub has brought the interactive Bloom installation to Melbourne. From 28 August to 11th October, you have FREE access to masses of these official London Oylmpic pink coloured plastic cells and are welcomed to have fun with friends and strangers in connecting the cells to form a structure.

kate rhodes rmit design hub
Kate Rhodes / Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Tobas Titz

Once again, thanks goes to the good folks at RMIT Design Hub including Curator Kate Rhodes. She brings a wealth of experience in art, craft, design and architecture to the Design Hub as the former curator of Craft Victoria and National Design Centre, and former editor of Artichoke magazine. Kate is working with colleague Fleur Watson to curate this installation. I managed to catch up with Kate to get the inside story of the exhibition and why she feels everyone should experience 'BLOOM' before the installation departs after 11 October 2014.

bloom rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Nico Photography

Lionel: What is the inspiration behind curating BLOOM?

Kate: BLOOM is designed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez as an urban toy, a distributed social game and collective 'gardening' experience that engages people through 'play' in order to construct open-ended design formations using building cells that are much like 'organic Lego' pieces.

Lionel: How long did it take to plan BLOOM?

Kate: We starting working with Alisa early in 2014 to bring the project to Melbourne as a collective series of programs and activities as part of 'The Future Is Here'.

Lionel: How is the Melbourne installation different from the original in London?

Kate: BLOOM is different in each location it appears. The point of the project is that it is non-didactic and can be used by people of any age and skill level to activate their imaginations and create sculptural installations. Looking at the example of toys like Lego, the lifespan of the project is undetermined as it is able to adapt and reappear in many different places and on many different occasions.

bloom rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Nico Photography

Lionel: Why should the public experience BLOOM?

Kate: BLOOM explores modes of creative thinking, assembly, disassembly and reusability that challenge the notions of traditional construction. It's fun, interactive and allows the collective act of coming to one place and building together becomes a shared memory for each person participating.

bloom rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Tobas Titz

Lionel: What is the relevance of the BLOOM installation to Melbourne?

Kate: The creation of BLOOM at RMIT Design Hub has been in partnership with students from Architecture & Design at RMIT University. The students are drawing on their experience of working with international architect Alisa Andrasek and BLOOM to inform their own installation called THRIVE which will be on display in the last week of the exhibition period in early October. Inflected by and playing off BLOOM, THRIVE will aim to redeploy architectural cladding systems, opening up potential modes of materialising, fabricating and constructing spaces. Repetitive, unit-based architectural cladding systems—such as roof tiles and shingles—are redesigned through adapting off-the-shelf architectural materials such that they incorporate variation and employ materials in new ways.

bloom rmit design hub
Photo courtesy of RMIT University & Tobas Titz

Visitor Notes: RMIT Design Hub is a new kind of creative environment in Melbourne that brings design researchers together with interested public to talk, learn and do design. The 'BLOOM' installation exhibited in conjunction with 'The Future is Here' at the Design Hub is currently unavailable around Australia so make sure you grab the kids and check it out before the exhibition closes.
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Why? London Olympic's BLOOM installation is here in Melbourne
When: Tuesday to Friday: 11am – 6pm / Saturday: 12pm – 5pm / Closed Sunday, Monday and Public Holidays
Where: RMIT Design Hub
Cost: Free entry
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