Haptic (3 stars)


The Lighthouse, Glasgow, until Mon 29 Sep


High design and its pioneering spirit are taken on a Seuss-like tangent in this enjoyable, inventive and very silly exhibition. According to curator Kenya Hara’s notes ‘haptic’ means ‘relating or pleasant to the sense of touch’, making this a show about ‘the design of the senses’ – a phrase more likely to evoke risqué Japanese sex dramas than anything more conceptual.

Form, quirk and function are the key ideas here, so there are lightshades made of hair, wastebaskets created from paper, and drinks cartons made with a synthetic amalgam of real fruit peel. Presented on flimsy waste-high tables with small sample pads to allow us to ‘creatively awaken our human sensors’, Haptic is often (intentionally or not) laugh out loud funny.

Silliness and familiarity aside (the Panasonic Design Company’s Gel Remote Control [pictured] evokes Dali’s melting clocks but is actually only a step away from bendy keyboards), there are some elemental and environmentally prescient pieces on display here. Shin Sobue’s ‘Tadpole Coasters’ uses bio-organic technology to seemingly capture tadpoles in resin with cruel but pleasing results, while Shunji Yamanaka’s doily-like ‘Floating Compass’ plays on the form of water-gliding insects with an effeminate twist that’s all too rare in this male-dominated field.

Haptic is ultimately a welcome exhibition about duality, ingenuity and contrivance in an age when those things can often seem an irrelevant indulgence.


  • 3 stars

An exhibition from the Nippon Design Museum for which curator, Kenya Hara invited artists from a variety of fields, including designers Siguru Ban and Jasper Morrison, and French graphic artist Mathieu Manche, to create products designed to stimulate the senses.

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