"Caros audiophiles, before I introduce this week's musical composer Philip Glass, let me mention that last week I took my 13 year old nephew to London's Design Museum to see an exhibition of 100 Innovative Designs of 2010. My nephew likes creating and constructing things, currently he is building a boat in the garden, and his ambition one day is to be an aeronautical engineer.
The exhibition is split into seven disciplines - architecture, fashion, furniture, graphics, interactive, product and transport - and illustrates the expanding range of design and its influential role in shaping society. Many designs offer support to communities or provide life-saving solutions for developing countries. Other designs are less evident in their impact but still offer important solutions to aspects of our daily life such as seating and transport. To reflect current trends in design and culture, the exhibition is orientated around five themes - city, play, learn, home, and share.
One notable trend is the emergence of the iPad and other tablet devices. Advances in portable touch-screen technology have produced an accessible new archetype which is leading innovation in content, in design and in the human interface for applications.
Another continuing trend is the presence of sustainable and environmental design. Sustainable elements are now being embedded within a design, an indicator that sustainability is becoming the rule instead of the exception in our social lives.
One of the most amazing designs that I viewed was (a video of) the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010. It is called the Seed Cathedral, and is constructed of 60,000 7-metre transparent acrylic pipes each containing at its end the seed of a different plant taken from Kew Gardens Botanical Seed Bank near London. The interior of this 'cathedral' is illuminated only by daylight filtering through each pipe, The concept is that each 'optical filament' contains the potential for life. The Expo has now closed, and the Seed Cathedral, like seeds in the wind, has been taken apart and each pipe has been distributed to schools in China and the UK to inspire our future generations.
Here is a video showing this amazing project. I don't particularly like the accompanying music, but you can mute the volume if you prefer.
I urge you also to search for other videos of the Shanghai Expo. Its theme was Better City Better Life, and some of the other pavilions and displays such as Urban Panet are extraordinary.
And so I was reminded of a video of the New York City Expo 1964, which is accompanied by the haunting beautiful rhythmic harmonic repetitive looping music ofPhilip Glass. This piece is called Façades from his album Glassworks, but, ironically in our context here, the piece was originally an un-used part of the musical score that Philip Glass wrote for the film Koyaanisqatsi (meaning 'unbalanced life' in the language of the Hopi Indians) which shows the apocalyptic clash between two cultures: that of city life and its technology and that of nature. The music accompanied the film's apocalyptic images of the façades and skyscrapers of a deserted New York.