London Design Biennale 2016: museums need to collect more design prototypes, according to Dutch duo Studio Makkink & Bey, who are presenting their own take on an archive during the London Design Biennale.
Studio co-founder Rianne Makkink said that museums were missing important records of design history by focusing only on the finished product.
"In the Netherlands museums are only collecting end pieces and never the story behind them," she told Dezeen. "It's time for design to collect the whole storyline."
"Museums should collect more prototypes, inventories and digital archives," she continued. "We need to do more to record the narrative and the connections between things."
Studio Makkink & Bey created the Biennale installation, titled Design Diorama, to explore the beauty and usefulness of archiving.
The Netherlands commissioning body for the Biennale, Het Nieuwe Instituut, has a large architecture archive, and it prompted the duo to consider the lack of similar archives for design.
The designers – partners both professionally and personally – chronicled the objects from one room of their home in blue modelling foam. This included works by well-known designers like Bertjan Pot and Verner Panton, as well as paintings, student projects and assorted curios.
Replicating the composition of a photograph of the two of them in the room, the designers created realistic copies of the objects in exaggerated sizes to heighten the sense of perspective.
Studio Makkink & Bey made the installation to respond to the Biennale's theme of Utopia by Design, a reference to the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More's Utopia.
"If we imagine an ideal world, then we think of a future world without losing sight of everyday issues," said Jurgen Bey. "We wanted to find out what role the archive would play in such an ideal world."
The installation is designed to have a personal slant. Accompanying the physical model is a digital database that maps the people connected to each piece.
The duo made an inventory of 4,000 people during their process, although only a portion are included as part of the Biennale installation. The database can be explored online or via a tablet next to the blue-foam room.
Objects in the space include a glove personally made by fellow Dutch designer Bertjan Pot for Bey's 50th birthday, and a Panthella lamp by Verner Panton, Makkink's first ever design purchase from her student days in 1983.
On the wall there is a painting by Dutch photo-stitching artist Berend Strik – Makkink and Bey buy artwork together to celebrate their anniversaries – and across one chair is a peacock feather duster, a memento of the designers' first project together.
Makkink, a trained architect, sees a "small utopia" in being surrounded by these kinds of objects.
"In architecture I am a minimalist but in objects, I always want to collect," she said. "It's more the narrative than the object itself."
"They're always wormholes to another world I can enter, like a book."
The London Design Biennale is on until 27 September 2016 at Somerset House. Other installations at the event include the UK's towering weathervane, Turkey's pneumatic messaging system and Mexico's attempt at a binational border city shared with the US.
Photography is by Petra van der Ree.