Earlier this year a group of designers gathered in Hendzel and Hunt’s studio were given a brief. Inspired by the industrial history of the Peckham area that was home to the Edison Bells factory, the task was to create a machine capable of playing an Edison Bells record of “Two Cigarettes in the Dark,” by Joe Green and his Novelty Orchestra.
Like every good challenge, there was a catch. Each group had a budget of only £30 to source materials from the surrounding area (in keeping with Hendzel & Hunt’s own design ethos), and were not allowed to step anywhere near digital technology.
The results, unveiled 24 hours later, all displayed not only a range of unusual mechanical processes to drive the record, but varied aesthetics and approaches to solving the problems which emerged along the way.
Team B’s, “The Dutchess of Peckham,” is perhaps the most accomplished of the designs with an intricate speaker horn resembling an old hot air balloon (pictured above and below left). Team D’s sewing machine-driven “The Singer” offers a number of listening cones so a small group can listen in, while Team E came up with perhaps the most lateral take. “The French Orchestra” mounts on a wall, similar to Naoto Fukasawa’s iconic CD player for Muji.
To spice things up, each of the five groups was mixed up to give each members with different skill sets. Hendzel and Hunt also invited one of London’s up-and-coming film makers to document the process which has just been released for viewing pleasure, while a long-play time lapse film of the entire process has also been put together.
Both films go far to capture the atmosphere and frustrations which the difficult task created and provide a context for the processes of design. In an age when many of us simply consume, it’s riveting to see a fully-fledged documentation of a process from the seed to culmination of an idea.
Londoners can see the five machines in person at So Far, The Future through 21 June 2011.