Making Memory Palace

In an age in which reading formats are rapidly changing, and print – as book, newspaper or magazine – is losing its dominance as a deliverer of the written word, it is appropriate to think about ideas of what ‘reading’ is – and what a book might be. Digital platforms enable us to engage with narrative in new ways, but when texts are searchable, layers of background information are immediately accessible at the touch of a fingertip, and dialogue with other readers is possible in real time, it is interesting to question what is happening to our experience of reading stories. How far can you push the format and still call something a book? Memory Palace is a physically immersive illustrated story that explores the idea of an exhibition as a walk-in book.

Digital publishing has not just changed the experience of readers, it has also altered the role of graphic designers and illustrators, who must now consider a more complex set of technological networks and possibilities as they work on-screen, where text rarely exists in isolation. The limits of how a designer might once have influenced the reading experience – font, letter and line spacing, paper stock, first cover impression – are no longer all-confining. As curator Andrew Blauvelt observed, ‘in the future, most designers will be creating reading experiences not book designs’. 1

While it would seem as if physical books might be losing importance, the physicality of an individual book is increasingly significant. Publishing houses experiment with material and printing techniques to create collectable cover designs and unusual formats. So if readers buy fewer ‘real’ books, it makes sense that those they do buy should be beautiful objects. This enables graphic designers and illustrators to work on book projects with more varied visual content and material qualities. The Dutch book designer Irma Boom, creator of some of the most highly acclaimed book designs published in recent years, observed in an interview:

‘in older days, a book was made for spreading information, but now we have the Internet to spread information. So to spread something else – maybe sheer beauty or a much slower, more thought-provoking message – it’s the book.’ 2

Set against this shifting context, Memory Palace provides an experiential reading format for a story. The exhibition brings together a new piece of fiction with 20 original commissions from graphic designers and illustrators to create an exhibition that can be read.

Unlike reading a printed book, visiting an exhibition is not usually a linear experience. a narrative that moved around in time and that could be accessed in different ways seemed like a good starting point for a story that would be encountered physically. The search for an author began with writers who had previously written non-linear narratives. We were drawn to Hari Kunzru because he had published novels and a book of short stories that play explicitly with sequence, time and disparate characters tied together by a central theme – a computer virus in his novel Transmission, and a rock formation in the Arizona desert in Gods Without Men. 3

To experiment with the relationship between the written word and its visual interpretation fully, we commissioned a new story rather than attempt to adapt an existing text. This allowed the text to be created and finalized collaboratively, and meant that there would be no existing reader expectations – a narrative world that was untouched, ready to be populated with words and images. The original brief to Kunzru was very open, only setting out that multiple practitioners would be commissioned to interpret it, and that the outcome was to be an immersive narrative experience situated in a gallery in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In response Kunzru created a dystopian story that mourns the loss of human knowledge. The central character is fascinated with the past and clings on to the few garbled memory fragments of it that still exist. The practice of ‘Ars Memoria’ or ‘Mnemonics’, a memory technique in which an imaginary building or environment is visualized and the information to be remembered is placed as ‘objects’ within the fictional space, bears comparison to the idea of a museum as a repository of past ideas. When Kunzru submitted the first draft of the text, it also became apparent that he had interwoven the collaborative basis of the project into the overarching themes of the story – that memories change in the mouths of those who tell them.

The text is written in passages that move between a sequence of interrogations and an ‘unordered’ series of memory fragments. We selected one or more passages to give to 20 different graphic designers and illustrators, who were able to respond to it freely. Each practitioner reacted to the words in the text very differently: some attempted to convey the complete passage, others stripped it back to one important event or sentence, and some even layered the narrative with words of their own. These commissions have gone beyond literal visualizations of the text and instead have added new meaning and direction to the story.

The chosen practitioners work across a variety of fields within graphics and illustration, from graphic novels and editorial illustration to advertising and typography. All have a background either in graphic design or illustration – disciplines that were traditionally tied to the world of books and print but which today span many different typesof media and formats. While by no means intended as a survey show, the broad selection of contributors demonstrates the exceptionally diverse and expanding worlds of contemporary graphic design and illustration. What they share is a strong engagement with narrative, storytelling and words. The decisions to pair practitioners with passages of the text were based on both a strong visual resonance with their previous work and events in the story. An understanding of the physicality of the exhibition space and how the viewer might engage with their work was also a key aspect.

Four practitioners interpreted the passages of the story that set out the context and the world that the central character inhabits. Francesco Franchi and Stefanie Posavec, both of whom work in the field of information graphics and have a keen interest in making complex connections visible, interpreted the utopian ‘Wilding’ and how the art of memory is practised. The illustrator Mario Wagner, who works primarily with digital and collage techniques, captured ‘Magnetization’, the magnetic storm that wiped out all technology in the world. The illustrator Frank laws, who is concerned with documenting intricate details of mundane reality, such as brickwork, was tasked with depicting the prisoner’s current setting, the cell.

The central passages of dialogue in the story, a series of interrogations between the prisoner and his captor, were portrayed by the illustrators Luke Pearson, Alexis Deacon and Jim Kay, who have backgrounds in graphic novels and children’s books. They document the prisoner’s ultimate confession and demise in a series of powerfully drawn sequences that form the narrative spine of the story.

Interspersed around the interrogations are the memory fragments the prisoner has been tasked to remember. Some of the misremembered facts and playful definitions have been depicted by the typographers Peter Bil’ak, Oded Ezer and Hansje van Halem, who have all worked with Kunzru’s words from the memory fragments, presenting them in unusual formats: giant reversible letters, floor tiles and drawn type shown on Skype. The graphic artist Sam Winston has taken the prisoner’s text as a starting point to write more text, which he has incorporated into a sprawling, intricate periodic table.

The illustrator Henning Wagenbreth and the collective Le Gun, who are interested in working off the page with different surfaces and spaces, were given the memory passages about museums and hospitals, which they have reimagined in three-dimensional drawn environments. The graphic designer Erik Kessels has also taken the passages of text about recycling and advertising into the physical realm, creating a giant recycled paper palace. The ‘Laws of Endtropy’ are visualized as a large advertising board conceived by the graphic designer Na Kim and in another corrupted memory the laws of Newton have been brought to life in the shape of an altarpiece created and illustrated by Stuart Kolakovic.

To explore ideas about different viewpoints and interpretations, two practitioners and a collective were asked to work on the passage about the prisoner’s past and his induction into the ‘Memorialists’. The illustrator Isabel Greenberg, who creates graphic novels, sought to sequence the relationship between the prisoner and his teacher Billgee. The illustrator Némo Tral, who works on architectural drawings, chose to depict the ruins of iconic London buildings and the Olympic Park where the prisoner grew up. The graphic design collective Åbäke have evoked the apocalyptic setting of the story to question the meaning of a collection of objects when all knowledge about what function they serve is lost.

Johnny Kelly, who has a background in graphic design and animation, was asked to interpret the end of the story and created a physical and interactive installation that acts as a memory bank for visitors to add to, generating life for the story beyond the exhibition.

The exciting breadth of visual responses and number of people involved in the project also posed an unusual challenge: how to create an experience for the visitor that would be cohesive. It required a careful pacing of the story within the physical space, a narrative life raft for the visitor, and a strong overarching exhibition design. In an attempt to further integrate the sequence of the story and the design of the exhibition, several meetings were held at an early stage in the project between the curators, Hari Kunzru, the architect and exhibition designer C.J. Lim and the graphic designers of Sara De Bondt studio. as a result, the design of the exhibition draws on the underlying themes of the story itself and unifies the diverse elements of the project.

C.J. Lim created a large building to contain the story. Like a palace of memories, it is made up of a space that contains the narrative spine of the story and a series of individual chambers, each containing a different memory fragment. The layout of the exhibition gives visitors a choice about which direction to turn and which passage to encounter next. Each visitor’s experience is slightly different depending on the route they choose to walk through the story, and all ultimately leave with their own version.

Sara De Bondt studio, who also designed this book, created the exhibition graphics that grow over the walls of the building like moss or ivy and reflect one of the central ideas in the story – nature overtaking the built landscape. The studio’s choice of typeface used both here in the book and for the exhibition graphics is Jenson, based on Golden Type, which was designed by William Morris in 1890. The studio chose it because they saw a connection between the time of the ‘Wilding’ and Morris’s vision of a pre-industrial Utopia.

Kunzru’s complete text is not present in the exhibition itself; rather, a pared down version is displayed, giving the visitor a narrative thread to follow. In an attempt to let the story be told purely through the words of the author and visual responses of the practitioners, where the words and images tell different yet connected and supporting plots, there are no object labels or factual information inside the exhibition.

Memory Palace is at its core a collaboration between word and image. It is a narrative made up of multiple viewpoints that have come together to create a story that can be walked through, observed and read. Interpretation and translation underpin the entire project, from the central premise of the story itself to the ways in which each practitioner has responded, and ultimately the way in which the visitor engages with the narrative. Memory Palace explores what happens when a story leaves the pages of a book and enters the gallery space.

1 Andrew Blauvelt, ‘From Books to Texts’, in Mieke Gerritzen, Geert lovink and Minke Kampman (eds), Exploring New Information Cultures (Breda 2011)

2 Erich Nagler, ‘Irma Boom’s Visual Testing Ground: The Internationally acclaimed Book Designer Talks about her craft’, Metropolis Magazine (29 February 2008),

3 Hari Kunzru, Transmission (London 2004) and Gods Without Men (London 2011)

Laurie Britton NewellLaurie Britton Newell is the co-curator of Memory Palace. She has devised and curated projects for the V&A including Make Lab and No Strings in 2011, 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces in 2010 and Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular Craft in 2008.

Ligaya Salazar Ligaya Salazar is the co-curator of Memory Palace. She devised and curated V&A contemporary projects including Yohji Yamamoto and No Strings in 2011, British Fashion in 2009, Fashion V Sport in 2008 and Crafting Couture in 2007.

Robert HunterThe illustrator Robert Hunter followed the development of the Memory Palace project and in response produced a wordless graphic story. It visualizes a part actual, part imaginary journey through the process of making this storytelling experiment. The full graphic story can be found in Memory Palace by Hari Kunzru which is now available to buy in the V&A Shop. 

Julian Klincewicz in Conversation With Ligaya Salazar

Julian Klincewicz, aged 22, is a kid of his generation — an archetypal millennial poly- math simultaneously juggling several projects. He started out skating and shooting videos on an old video camera he found in his grandma’s attic, before doing a little bit of everything: photography, art, music. What sets him apart from so many of his peers is just how good he is at whatever he turns his hand to. As a filmmaker, his films have evolved from a lo-fi skate-influenced style into delicate and intimate vignettes. His music carries a similar charm, evocative of the early work of The Durutti Column. And his photography is bold — bright silhouettes, candescent like a bulb filament set against a black backdrop.

When I first interviewed Julian in 2016, I was struck by the range of references he had for someone so young. His cultural references range from Sam Shepard to the cinematic techniques employed by American design duo and auteurs, Ray and Charles Eames. As high-brow as those might be, Julian and his work carry no pretense. He’ll pursue his own interests, irrespective of whether they’re “cool” or not. (One of the photos he supplied for this interview was him on a unicycle, a talent he picked up during his time spent in a local circus between the age of seven and fourteen.) Unlike many of his peers, Julian’s work isn’t created out of a desire for affirmation or cultural kudos, but to create something that genuinely resonates. There’s an honesty and authenticity present in everything he does.

Ligaya Salazar first met Julian two years ago in his hometown, San Diego. Like him, she has the impressive ability to flit between different disciplines with consummate ease. Currently, she is the director and curator at London’s Fashion Space Gallery, which sees the work of nascent artists displayed alongside established cult figures. Between 2005 and 2013, Salazar was the Curator of Contemporary Programmes at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, overseeing to a mesmerizing retro- spective of the work of Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, and “Memory Palace,” an exhibition built out of the fictional writing of author Hari Kunzru, through a series of commissioned works by renowned illustrators, designers and typographers. For each of these exhibitions, Salazar also penned or edited accompanying books. She writes regularly, about fashion, art and culture, while also working as a contributing editor at Varoom magazine. I’m sure I’m probably forgetting stuff here, as well. 

With a dodgy Skype connection – that seemed particularly intent on cutting out at the mere mention of Jay-Z – we asked Salazar to speak to Klincewicz. They discussed eschewing categorization, pop culture as a medium for art, their work, and the importance of not working.

Ligaya Salazar — I think people still find it very fascinating when people are not bound to one thing, and don’t have the fear of doing something else. Maybe you can tell me a little bit about how you do that, or why you do it? What drives you?

Julian Klincewicz — Maybe it’s not so surprising anymore, but for a long time it was bizarre to me that you wouldn’t just do everything. A place where that comes from, for me, would maybe be skateboarding. It’s something between an art form, a sport, a dance, and then it also encompasses all this other example, a really integrated element of skateboarding is filming. So, I think there’s already just this sense of multiple mediums being connected through this one thing. I don’t feel like I ever made a conscious decision to be like: “I want to do a bunch of different stuff,” it was just really natural, until people started pointing it out.I don’t want to be pigeonholed. I’m totally cool with anybody else labelling me as this or that — it’s up to them — but the parameters I put on myself are to try and be interested in whatever is interesting… whatever that thing is. And to try not fight where that interest goes. Since finishing the Jay-Z tour, I realized that I am kind of starting to feel a pull away from video. It’s just not as interesting to me as it was, and I am sure it’ll cycle back, things always do, but right now I’m just much more interested in writing.

LS – I guess I am maybe a little bit similar in the sense that I like to follow my gut instincts, and sometimes they can’t be justified in normal ways or by professional norms. It means that I can work with people who come from all sorts of different perspectives, and try to bring them together or do things with them that aren’t confined to their disciplines either. As you say, it can be a very brave and freeing thing to do – to de-shackle yourself from the confines of a discipline. There are so many historical examples of creatives who did everything, and they always worked together with other creatives, and they all experimented. I feel that, in a way, art and creative historians have been writing those details out of history a little bit. I think experimentation and working together has always been a big part of creating a great thing.

JK – Yeah, I think also right now it’s just much easier to do anything you want to do. The resources are just really affordable and there, so I think it just becomes more apparent. Just like you said, I think there are very few people, creative types, who just do one thing. Most people I know are doing at least three things at the same time.

LS – I guess it’s more democratic now, and there’s more channels to get to people. Sometimes that is helpful, and sometimes it’s not. What are the characteristics or traits of people you work with, that attract you to a project or working with someone

JK – One characteristic I think would be an inherent curiosity, and a feeling of self-absorbed selflessness. I think most artists who I am lucky enough to work with, are people who really are able to use themselves as a conduit – a microcosm for the macrocosm. [They] use their really personal experiences to say something about the world. That’s what I think a lot of good artists do. Those people that I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with, it’s really just an underlying curiosity. It’s like a craving for some kind of knowledge and, at the same time, this internal need to bring that to other people. To be like: “Hey, this is what I’m going through, I am trying to learn from it, and this is how. This is the form that my trying takes, and are you trying too? Does this make sense to you?” It’s just this inherent curiosity about a thing and wanting to know if somebody else is curious about it. “I think this is important, do you think this is important?” A natural attraction towards exchange. Does that make sense?

LS – It does. I think openness and curiosity are the key to being able to communicate about creative work. There’s a willingness as well as a drive and an interest in something – that’s a good starting point for sure.

JK – I’m interested in the medium of pop culture. I think that a lot of the people I work with are really within that realm, and for me it creates a weird tension. I have this internal battle of wanting to make work that is conceptual, it has ideas behind it, it speaks to things, to the past, the future, the current day culture. But the realm that I get to work in right now is pop culture, which… I don’t know, I struggle with a little bit. Just because it is pop culture, and there is a perception of it being very watered-down and not necessarily at the same time, pretty much everybody I work with is super-intelligent, and they have this sense that the way you can affect most people is through pop culture, basically. It’s through these almost simplified versions of really informed, conceptual, reference-heavy ideas. You just take all this information and put it into a simple vessel, like a song or a piece of clothing. I think that’s something I am intrigued by, and I see that as a common thread between a lot of the people that I collaborate with.

LS – It is a funny thing, pop culture – it’s often something that is quite simplified and a little bit disposable, to an extent, but I do think that you can carry a lot of meaning through it and reach a lot of people. We have both visited Cuba recently, and what I noticed there was that whilst a lot of information is still very controlled, in terms of news, the one thing that they get unfiltered is music videos. They are very much pop, pop, pop – aspirational, consumption kind of videos. But those messages arrive loud and clear there, and people want all these things although they don’t get to see them elsewhere. Pop culture is a very powerful vehicle. I can imagine it’s a great one to have access to as a creative. What are you most excited about in the next few months?

JK – I’m excited to rest a little bit, actually. This year I’ve taken on a lot of projects within the realm of pop culture. A lot of “commercial jobs.” I don’t even want to call them jobs because I don’t view them like that – I never take a project just for money or because it’s work. I take them because they’re actual collaborations and I pour whatever I would pour into my personal work into them. But I also didn’t leave time to work on the projects that are just for me, that are for friends, that have no end goal or a set finished product… Just pure process. I feel like now I need to replenish my life and curiosity, to be able to bring something that is meaningful. I am excited to find a bit of a balance, be a sponge. Seeing other people’s artwork, having conversations with people, traveling, and also having a little bit of solitude.

LS – I think that’s really important. But also the notion of having time to see other people’s stuff is a really big one. I get so little time to do that, and when I do, it is the most luxurious thing.

JK – It is so important and so easy to pass up. I moved to New York last year and I spent so much time in my own world, working on my own thing, doing projects that are literally dreams come true. But I spent 95% of my time doing that, and I spent 5% of my time actually engaging with the community. I look back at the year, and it’s cool that I did all this stuff, but in a lot of ways I didn’t fulfil the role of a human being. Likewise, the role of the artist – which is to engage with the community around you and to be part of the conversation, and to push things forward. That for me was a weird thing. Now that I recognize that a bit. That thing of not making work is just as important as making work and being in your own world. I found that I need to remove myself from my world to be able to do work that is meaningful.

LS – I see what you’re saying. So, you were saying that you are currently quite interested in writing. And is that something that you feel might be something that you’re going to do… that could be part of one of your next projects? I know you’ve already done one book, didn’t you?

JK – I did a book of poetry that was part of a different project, and this long essay as part of Journal, the Moscow photobook I did. I’ve done those two. I think what I’m attracted to in writing is the quality of time. Most things, you know, you get a spurt of inspiration, and then you have a big breakthrough, but you spend a lot of time perfecting it to be its truest form. I think with writing, it takes time to realize what you actually want to say. I think right now the world is just so fast that the most attractive thing to me is like thinking about writing a movie script that’s going to take two years.I deleted Instagram a week ago, because everything is just so fast and overwhelming. I feel like we’re at this place where the quality of slowing down is new. Everyone is hyper-productive and they put out a lot of content and work. Going through an Instagram feed, I see all these really cool people whose work I love, and their work is really good, and I know it’s smart and informed, it feels cool and relevant. But there is so much of it, that all of it loses a bit of the meaning it should have, for the amount of work that people put into it. I just kind of hit a wall. If that is now the ubiquitous thing, to be hyper-productive and constantly do a million things, it’s much newer and interesting to go back to slowing down. I think I’m just attracted to slowing down because I’ve been working a bunch. For myself, [it’s about] letting go a little bit of the fear of not being hyper-productive.

LS – It is luxury these days, isn’t it? To have that time. But I guess also for you, having the ability to just following your own rhythm, and not following other people’s rhythms. You did a fashion show in 2016. What attracted you to the medium of clothes and fabric? It is a very different thing to lots of other things that have to do with visual culture. It’s such a thing unto itself. I was curious whether there was something specific that attracted you to working with clothes and fabric?

JK – I think the interest in clothing really just comes from a sense of community. After I graduated high school, I took a gap year because college was too expensive. I felt totally lost, because all my friends had just moved. I ended up finding this community through Gosha [Rubchinskiy], clothing and skating. And for whatever reason, clothing seemed to be this underlying thread. It permeated all the cultures that I was interested in, whether that was music — all the rock stars you like, dress cool — or skating, where everybody has their own style. What I saw in San Diego, was this general interest in clothing, in fashion, and especially within my generation of people who basically grew up on Tumblr. You’re constantly exposed to this world of fashion. But in San Diego, it’s just not really reflected anywhere.I kind of felt like after I got to work with people like Gosha and Kanye [West], that it just seemed really interesting to have the information of how that world works a little bit, and to understand the people around me who have this inherent interest for it. The main thing is that it served a purpose. Symbolically, doing a runway show, is to say you can do anything. The thing that you want to do that doesn’t exist: you can just make it happen. That was like the biggest takeaway for me. I felt so inspired and I was lucky enough to have resources to follow through on my inspiration. [In working with Gosha and Kanye] I experienced first-hand that dreams totally can come true. I want to bring that and give that to a bunch of people who maybe don’t even know that is possible.

JK – Artistically, I think it’s the most successful thing that I’ve done. We had 500 people show up to it. I was expecting 100 people, maybe. There was a line that covered the whole block. To me, that just spoke to the idea that people were really interested in this thing… I don’t even think just fashion, but they want a place to go and a thing to do, something to engage with, and a community to be inspired by.

LS – Is that something that is really important to you? Speaking to an audience?

JK – I think so, because I think you need the conversation. Again, I think it’s about saying: “Hey, I am trying to understand the world, and this is what makes sense to me. These are the universal themes that I see, and do you see these too? Are these true or are these false?” That’s actually something I was curious and hesitant about for a long time, because there’s so many… I’ll just call them rock star artists, or whatever, who are like, “Fuck the audience, who cares what anybody thinks?” That is perceived as really cool. To me, that just doesn’t feel true at all, because it’s all about the interaction. I think you need to care about what people think, not because you want validation, but because you need to care about other people. If you are actually interested in the world and making some kind of discovery, which is usually what the artistic process is [about], then you need to engage.

Images by Julian Klincewicz for WIP Magazine #1Words by Calum Gordon, interview by Ligaya Salazar, portraits of Julian by Michael Cukr 

Models: Erica Buenconsejo, Chris Urik, Sebastian Alvarez, Irie Jean Calkins, Noah Calkins, Daniel Huynh – Special thanks to 30ECB Boys & Girls, Edwin Negado, Gym Standard, Christy Klincewicz, Mike Neff, Irie Jean.

Julian Klincewicz in Conversation With Ligaya Salazar

Kreation von Yohji Yamamoto, zu sehen im Londoner Victoria & Albert Museum. (Bild: Reuters)

Die meisten tragen Schwarz oder Grau, nur ein paar Ausreisser in leuchtenden Primärfarben stören die melancholische Versammlung der sechzig Figurinen in Yamamoto-Gewändern. Sie sind einzeln oder in Gruppen über den Raum mit weissem Boden, hoher, gewölbter Decke und grauen Wänden verteilt. Die Kleiderpuppen mischen sich ungeschützt und auf Augenhöhe unter die Besucher der Ausstellung im Londoner Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). Der Effekt eines futuristischen Party-Szenarios ist durchaus gewollt: An Menschen auf einem Ball habe Yohji Yamamoto bei der Einrichtung seiner Ausstellung gedacht, erklärt die Kuratorin, Ligaya Salazar. Die Figurinen stehen in einem Raum unter einer gleissenden Neoninstallation so nahe beieinander, dass ein direkter Dialog mit dem Betrachter unausweichlich wird.

Kreation von Yohji Yamamoto, zu sehen im Londoner Victoria & Albert Museum. (Bild: Reuters)


Published by V&A Publishing, London, England (2013)

Seller: High Park Books, Kitchener, ON, Canada Contact seller

A experimental dystopian novella with B&W illustrations . Curated by Laurie Britton Newell & Ligaya Salazer. 111 pages. 8vo – over 7� – 9�“ tall. Small tear to paper ribbon back cover. V&A Publishing, London, England, 2013. Hardcover. Condition: Fine. Robert Frank Hunter (illustrator). 1st Edition.


Yohij Yamamoto. Ligaya Salazar, ed.

Seller: Antiquariat Langguth – lesenhilft, K�ln, Germany Contact seller

144 S. mit zahlreichen Fotoabbildungen. Beautifully illustrated using amazing photographs from the likes of Nick Knight and Paolo Roversi, selected from the Yohji Yamamoto archive, this will be an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in fashion and design. Gutes Exemplar. Sprache: Englisch Gewicht in Gramm: 2100 33 x 25 cm. Orig.-Pappband (Einband etwas berieben). London, V & A publ., 2011.

 Yohij Yamamoto. Ligaya Salazar, ed.

tadao ando unveils second octo finissimo watch for bulgari at watches & wonders 2021

from may 18 to october 24, 2021, the design museum in london will host ‘sneakers unboxed: from studio to street’, a major exhibition exploring the footwear phenomenon that has challenged performance design and shaken the world of fashion. the sneaker exhibition unveils the true history of the sport shoe, taking visitors on a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the most iconic and technically inventive designs of the past and present. along with more than 200 sneakers on view alone, the show also includes the adidas ‘ strung’ developed by kram/weisshaar, a shoe-making robot that pioneers a 3D knitting technology enabling it to produce full shoe uppers on the spot (see more here).

helen kirkum x casley hayford,  image by rachel dray

header image: ‘sneakers unboxed’ artwork by jack harper

‘sneakers unboxed: from studio to street’ at the design museum examines how the shoe became the undisputed cultural symbol of our times. over the years, many iconic trainers originally designed for specific athletic activities have been adopted by social movements and youth cultures across the globe. featuring over 200 shoes alone, the exhibition looks at various influential movements including the west coast skaters, the casuals, grime and the bubbleheads in cape town.puma X clyde frazier advert, puma archive

‘a footwear staple for style, performance and comfort wear, “sneakers unboxed: studio to street” reveals the role young people from diverse backgrounds have played in making individual sneakers into style icons and in driving an industry now worth billions,’ says curator ligaya salazar. ‘the exhibition also gives behind- the-scenes insight into new upcycling and sustainable design practices, unseen prototypes predicting the future of performance design, and streetwear and fashion collaborations that changed the face of the industry.’

helen kirkum x matthew needham, image by norman wilcox-geissen

curator: ligaya salazar (curator), rachel hajek (assistant curator)

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.


Ligaya Salazar is the Director of the Fashion Space Gallery. Her work as a curator and commissioner focuses on contemporary design, fashion and graphics. She curated the V&A contemporary exhibition at the Fashion Space Gallery in London. She devised the V&A Friday Late Program from 2008-2010, worked on a series of fashion-related Friday Lates in Paris in 2012 and curated numerous Friday Late events.

She was Artistic Director of the East London Comics and Arts Festival between 2011-2019, and writes regularly on contemporary design and fashion. The focus of her work is on commissioning new experimental work, bringing to life the design processes behind existing work and facilitating debate around current critical thinking in fashion and design.

Ligaya Salazar is the Director of the Fashion Space Gallery. Her work as a curator and commissioner focuses on contemporary design, fashion and graphics. She curated the V&A contemporary exhibition at the Fashion Space Gallery in London. She devised the V&A Friday Late Program from 2008-2010, worked on a series of fashion-related Friday Lates in Paris in 2012 and curated numerous Friday Late events.

She was Artistic Director of the East London Comics and Arts Festival between 2011-2019, and writes regularly on contemporary design and fashion. The focus of her work is on commissioning new experimental work, bringing to life the design processes behind existing work and facilitating debate around current critical thinking in fashion and design.

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LED-Kugelleuchten „Bloom“ mit 3D-Lichteffekt, 2er-Set

Autor: Ligaya Salazar 2011, 144 Seiten, 120 farbige Abbildungen, Maße: 32,7 cm, Gebunden, EnglischVerlag: Abrams & ChronicleISBN-10: 1851776273ISBN-13: 9781851776276