Timorous Beasties use both hand printing and machine techniques to experiment with their designs and much of their work is done in their Glasgow studio. They have also collaborated on a wide range of projects in different media. In 2007 they were invited by Maxalot of be part of an exhibition in the Hague. Maxalot showcases contemporary graphic design as an art-form and allows designers to work outside of the usual client boundaries. In the Hague Timorous Beasties projected traditional Toile images against a Damask backdrop on to the city hall. The projection was 30x30 metres.
In 2008 they were commissioned by a private donor to design new drapes for the stage in the main concert hall of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. The design is hand printed on to velvet and the drapes were 20 metres wide by 9 metres high.
In 2009 they were invited by Metropolitan Works to exhibit with 9 other artists, designers, jewelers and architects to showcase the technology available. Metropolitan Works provides technology, training and workspaces for the creative industries. The exhibition was the first time that Timorous Beasties had used laser cutting technology. They used the laser cutter to etch designs on to the surface of bricks. The 2 tessellating designs are both scenic, one showing a windfarm and the other urban wildlife in the city.
Peacocks Among the Ruins
I first came across the work of Timorous Beasties when I was researching the history of wallpaper in the library. I came across a catalogue for an exhibition that they co-curated at the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts). Peacocks Among the Ruins focused on the prevalence of plant and animal motifs in interior design dating back to the 18th century. It featured historical designs and the latest in contemporary wallpaper and fabric designs. Timorous Beasties created several new artworks for the show but also designed the installations and positioned the objects in the gallery. The exhibition was largely chronological, taking the viewer back in time from an opening contemporary scene to they delicate designs of the 18th century.
Horse Lamp by Front. Front is an all female Swedish design group, better suited to public spaces this work is controversial but also rooted in history and takes as precedence griffin table legs and lion newel posts.
With the advent of Modernism naturalism was outlawed, it was seen as too literal and unimaginative or dismissed as sentimental kitsch. In fact surface decoration of any kind has been looked down upon by architects since Modernism introduced the pure white forms we are so familiar with. However the tide seems to be turning and there are many designers now embracing decoration and bold natural motifs. I have already looked at the history of silk design and seen the importance that naturalism played in 18th century textile design and therefor also in wallpaper design. I think it is important to incorporate craft and decoration into architecture to avoid ending up with a sterile environment. Traditionally an architect would design the building and the interior designer would worry about the surface decoration. I would like pattern and surface to be key to the my design and integrated from an early stage rather than just applied as an after thought.