Inspired by the cabinets of curiosity, or wonder cabinets that once traveled around Europe as the first iteration of what later become the modern day museum, curators Livia Lauber and Maria Jeglinska invited eight designers from five European countries to create their own personal cabinet of curiosities for the Wonder Cabinets of Europe exhibition on view at Brompton Design District during London Design Festival. The eight resulting raw plywood cabinets provide a look into each designer's methodology—their work in process as opposed to their work in progress. "Each cabinet is conceived as an exhibition within the exhibition—an atomized gallery space."
The cabinets are both intimate and clinical. Though each designer has allowed us a glimpse of their personal approach to the design process, the displays are a precise, calculated display of what Jeglinska and Lauber call designer DNA. "We could have called this exhibition "The Way We Work," but that would have restricted it to the perimeter of our studios. It was important for us to place it within a larger context, to take another step back." Jeglinska and Lauber went on to discuss how their circle of designer friends are the first generation to benefit from the possibilities of the EU, and how much of their design work is a result of studying and working in cities they didn't grow up in. Even the most casual of festivalgoers will notice an 'internationalization' of design—a mix of modernism, minimalism, craft and materials that draws influence from a variety of Scandinavian and European countries.
On a personal note, the idea of creating a personal cabinet of wonder seems like an ideal studio project for design students, forcing them to focus on their own process and discover what's most important and meaningful to them. Jeglinska and Lauber agreed, adding "We hope that the cabinets provided the designers with an opportunity for introspection, stimulating them to reflect upon their own praxis and the driving elements behind their approaches."