'The Unboxing Show' at London Design Festival explores the dismantling of a box

Conceptualised by British designer, Peter Marigold, The Unboxing Show is a Festival Commission for Coal Drops Yard and questions the concept of passive consumption.

by Devanshi ShahPublished on : Sep 24, 2021

'One man's garbage is another man's treasure' takes on a more literal definition at The Unboxing Show. Spearheaded by British designer, Peter Marigold, the show is a Festival Commission for Coal Drops Yard as part of the London Design Festival 2021. As part of the King’s Cross Design District, one of the 10 districts participating this year, the show is a comment on passive consumption. The Unboxing Show approaches the concept of passive consumption in a more holistic manner, from the environment to social media, and identifies it as the heart of many problems we face today. For instance, as consumers, we accept the objects we buy as fixed and unchangeable. We also accept that the form in which these are delivered to us is unchangeable.

02 mins watch Process videos of creating objects | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
Process videos of creating objects Video: Courtesy of Peter Marigold

Over the course of the global pandemic and lockdown, we saw a rise in home delivered consumption. This led to a rise in packaging waste, namely cardboard. The Unboxing Show is an invitation for the public to reconsider the value of this primary waste material of our consumer driven world. Designers and artists were invited to not only think outside the box, but to dismantle the box itself. The core idea was to create prototypes of objects that could be made from waste cardboard, which for the show was acquired from Coal Drops Yard itself.

  • Tools of the trade | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
    Tools of the trade Image: Courtesy of Peter Marigold
  • Process models of Michael Marriot checking hole sizes | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
    Process models of Michael Marriot checking hole sizes for his cloak Image: Courtesy of Peter Marigold

Marigold, who is also a Professor of Design and Entrepreneurialism at London Metropolitan University, centered the show around the questions, 'What is the intrinsic imaginary potential of material? What can it do? What can it be?' The concept encouraged the participating designers to use their instinctive child-like imagination to repurpose the packaging. Think Calvin and Spaceman Spiff’s rocket, the rocket was never more than a box with drawing on it, yet it transforms into a rocket in the child’s imaginations. The potential of material transmutation does not have to be a complex set of operatives; it can stem from simple interventions like creating a clock out of cardboard, or as complex as creating a record player.

  • Oren Marigold playing with the CNC machine | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
    Oren Marigold playing with the CNC machine Image: Courtesy of Peter Marigold
  • Installation view of The Unboxing Box | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
    Installation view of The Unboxing Show Image: Courtesy of London Design Festival

Having created detailed plans and tool paths, the designs were made using a CNC machine. As a show, one witnesses the ability to recontextualise a humble material, often considered waste into an object with value. Featuring designs by well-known designers and makers, the schematics will be available for the public to build for free at the exhibition with assistance from workshop assistants. Those who participate will walk away with an original collectable object that they have also invested their time into making, giving them a new sense of ownership. It also makes one re-evaluate the value of an object, when a consumer spends time on making it as opposed to buying it.

  • Objects of value at The Unboxing Show | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
    Objects of value at The Unboxing Show Image: Courtesy of London Design Festival
  • Yuri Suzuki record player prototype | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
    Yuri Suzuki record player prototype Image: Courtesy of Peter Marigold

The items made at the show will be stamped and numbered and the plans for the objects will be available online for all to print and assemble at home. The show asks the public to meet the designers halfway. While the designer submits the project design and prototype, the public physically creates it. The show includes projects from Campana Brothers, Chen Chen and Kai Williams, Peter Marigold, Daniel Eatock, Michael Marriot, Yuri Suzuki, Eyal Burstein, Faye Toogood, Marti Guixe, Sebastian Bergne, Study O Portable, Liliana Ovalle, Max Lamb, T Sakhi, Jurgen Bey, Gareth Neal, Glithero, Asif Khan and Mathieu Lehanneur.

Michael Marriot’s Cloak | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
Michael Marriot’s Cloak Image: Courtesy of London Design Festival

Other installations and events to catch at the Kings Cross District, which is a melting pot of contemporary design, innovation, culture and creativity, include King’s Cross' new initiative, Super Nature, where public installations are used to explore design, materials and production methods that have a positive impact on people and the planet. As part of the Super Nature programme, King’s Cross is shining a spotlight on the carbon negative wonder ingredient, hemp, and its many applications, from cosmetics to clothing and even building material.

Courtesy of Kings Cross Design District | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
CASA ESTUDIO x Super Nature KX Seating; Kiosk N1C x Super Nature Hemp Automat Image: Courtesy of Kings Cross Design District

Tom Dixon Studio is showcasing their newly launched furniture and lighting that investigates the theme of 'materiality'. London-based designers Casa Estudio is also presenting a seating installation made from Richlite, an FSC-certified recycled paper composite. UAL students pick their 'Material Heroes' in an exhibition taking over the 'Outside Art Project'. Visitors can learn more about each project through QR codes linked to the UAL Graduate Showcase.

UAL x Super Nature Material Heroes | The Unboxing Show | London Design Festival | STIRworld
UAL x Super Nature Material Heroes Image: Courtesy of Kings Cross Design District

Click here to read all about STIR at LDF, a STIR series on what to look out for at the London Design Festival 2021.

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