A Blueprint For Life

05 January 2005

I popped into the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) last week, for a look at the 'A Blueprint for Life'exhibition that is currently being featured. Timed to coincide with the London Design Festival(which is long gone incidentally), the exhibition offers 21 photographs by Steve Speller, each one a portrait of a designer alongside their work. Designers selected were all deemed to have 'changed the way we think about everyday design'. Having spent a little while looking at some of the paintings in the NPG (Mo Mowlam in oils, Richard Branson in ticket stubs, etc), these photographs made quite an impact. In comparison with a painting, a large colour photograph has a vibrancy and life which you appreciate much more having recently looked at rather abstract, less detailed portraits. Speller has been taking photos of designers and their work since 1986, for the cover of Blueprint Magazinewhich often featured a designer on its front cover. This exhibition has given him an opportunity to develop this idea and take it into 2004. The photos have a very personal feeling about them: a designer and his creation re-united. But there is a humour to some of them too. Craig Johnston and his Predator football boot springs to mind, as well as Garrick Hamm and his loaf of Hovis. There is a Blueprint for Life site, which gives a few nice examples of the style of this collection (although many from the NPG exhibition seem to be missing - notably Jonathan Ive and his iPod), but if you are going anywhere near Trafalgar Square before 23 March 2005 you might be interested in taking a look. There's no cost to get in.