RetroProgressive – Identifying style

Designers have become increasingly introspective over the past couple of years, as manifested in a fair bit of navel gazing. Nacho Carbonell’s 2009 Fertility Cave installation is one such example:

“The fertility cave represents the act of love between the random ideas in my head. It’s a symbolic representation of my brain while it conceives new things. Entering the cave you find a mix, a blending of ideas and forms, a mishmash of concepts that love each other. The dark interior makes it possible for designs to bread with thoughts of life, becoming all an orgy of creation. Through this mix you can visualize how new possibilities arise. The cave is provided with two small entrances that you’ll need to crawl through. You’ll have to make an effort to get deep into my brain, the same way you have to make an effort to get deep into yourself. I invite you in.”

Sounds like this might be the perfect place to ruminate over an identity crisis. Even the world of fashion is contemplating its identity, as I discovered when, earlier in the week, I visited a fascinating new exhibition – GSK Contemporary – Aware: Art Fashion Identity (at the Royal Academy of Arts until 30 January 2011).

One of the curators, Lucy Orta’s contribution is Anticipation Accessories, a wearable artwork of kits containing objects symbolizing a state of emergency: shortages of water or food, loss of love or affection, pollution or environmental disasters. No mention of two inches of snow.

Elsewhere, I’ve noticed other ‘security blanket’ type products – like this uniquely uncuddly, PVC teddy bear – perfect for storing all those stray buttons and bottles of pills to swallow in the event of impending disaster. This may be a Japanese design – it’s strangely reminiscent of the very curious combination of accessories offered in overnight wallets on JAL flights. However, I seem to recall this bear is meant to serve as a sort of memory box for keepsakes of personal significance.

Much like the stool of private treasures by Finn Stone – a collection of personal paraphernalia set for posterity in finest quality fibreglass. Lest we forget who we are.

Anyway, for those of you with a little time to explore your own ideas, I challenge you to come up with a list of items representing your identity. Old photographs? A well read book? Tomato ketchup? Your favourite tie?

How fertile is your cave?

Share This Post

About Author Profile: Susan Muncey

Trend consultant Susan Muncey, is Editor of Visuology Magazine. In 2008, she founded online curiosity shop, She writes on style and trends for several blogs, including, and The Dabbler. She previously owned cult West London boutique, Fashion Gallery, one of the first concept stores in the world. Susan graduated in geography from Cambridge University and is also an Associate Member of the CFA Institute. She lives in London with her husband.

10 thoughts on “RetroProgressive – Identifying style

    Ian Buxton
    December 4, 2010 at 09:56

    It is December 4th today, is it not?
    Not April 1st?

    December 4, 2010 at 10:33

    Lucy Orta’s stuff looks like the wet room in a Lake District youth hostel and the bear, definitely not Stieff, as for Finns stool, very Gilbert and George. Nacho Carbondating’s effort reminds me of TVR. They did things on a shoestring, no clay models for them, Styrofoam, just the ticket except that Pete Wheeler’s dog used to regularly attack them, after one such session he liked the end result so much it was left as was, resulting in the Cerbera.

    The identifiers will need serious consideration, after we dig the huskies out for the Tesco run this morning, for starters, a hairbrush, confirming that I do in fact still have mine.

  3. Gaw
    December 4, 2010 at 12:19

    That last photo – did it fall on him or is it an appendage?

    Before I scrolled down (thankfully), my son, looking over my shoulder, asked whether he could have a ‘teddy bag’ for Christmas.

    December 4, 2010 at 13:18

    Ian, you mean I’m only a few months ahead?

    Love your comments Malty – the cave does look like a paper and paste job. I find the weird, organic shapes curiously fascinating. Might the object in the top photo (right) be a giant nose?

    Gaw, that’s amusing. maybe it’s a strange fallen fruit – or something obscure like a Gnacho perhaps (Gravitationally Negative Anomalous Compact Halo Object). Alternatively, it could be Nacho disappearing up his own a**e?

  5. Worm
    December 4, 2010 at 13:52

    looks like schweinshaxe to me. V. Claus Oldenburg

    December 4, 2010 at 14:42

    How unappetizing, worm.

    By the way, Dabbler style leads the way: In today’s FT How To Spend It there’s a 10 page spread of the bestial style hats featured in last week’s RetroProgressive post (with prices, Brit). And today’s cult shop, Viktor Wynd’s Little Shop of Horrors was featured by ShopCurious back in July (and is now one of our suppliers).

    December 4, 2010 at 18:40

    Schweinshaxe is lovely! Pork thigh with crispy skin and sauerkraut yum!

    Hey Skipper
    December 4, 2010 at 19:49

    Alternatively, it could be Nacho disappearing up his own a**e?

    Simple, elegant, and completely explanatory.

    Must be right.

    December 6, 2010 at 07:29

    Umm…. keys, wallet, phone (takes care of the family snaps), bacon butty, ‘Rhymes without Reason’, bottle of Bath Ales’ ‘Gem’ (of which more later, Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’, radio for Test Match Special and the collected works of Malty.

    December 6, 2010 at 15:26

    I’m sure Google will find this profile very useful, Brit!

Comments are closed.