Cool trainers, safe mountaineering gear, streamlined bikes: sport and state-of-the-art design make a Dream Team at the Glasgow 1999 exhibition WINNING.
Worcs: Brian Donaldson
BETTER STRONGER FASTER
DIFFERENT VIEWS ABOUND WHEN LOOKING at how sport and design have become so inextricably linked in the last decade. For some. they are natural bedfellows whose rates of progress are directly comparable and whose characteristics are defined by size and speed. The offshoots in commercial terms have brought more cash for companies such as Reebok or individual superstars like football‘s wiinderkind. Michael Owen.
The downside to all this is whether or not the awesome potential for a design revolution in sport is nothing more than a quasi- legitimate performance—enhancer or spectator- interest nullifier. llas tennis racket design killed the men’s game forever. replacing the concept of the rally and reducing it to a serve- and-volley snooze—athon'.’ Does wearing a Predator give you more swerve at free—kicks?
These and other issues are broached in
llinning: The Design ()fﬂS'po/‘Is. which kicks off (ilasgow 1999‘s exhibition programme at the .\lcl.ellan (ialleries. Its curator. Sue Andrew. is aware of those dangers. but is largely unworricd. 'I don‘t think that design is the most important factor in sporting achievement] she states. 'An athlete won’t win on design alone — they still have to be a better athlete than their opponent.‘
ln llinning. sporting artefacts and images are situated within shelled-out installations. created in the mind of designer and architect Ron Arad. These may remind you of Woody Allen‘s ()rgasmatron in Sleeper or David (‘ronenberg‘s ’l‘elepod in The Fly. The installations are situated away from the walls of the various rooms and give the impression of being dropped from space.
The exhibition looks at the relationship between the public and sportswear -- from the
'Chris Bonnington will always be more aware of having a secure safety harness rather than whether or not it is a nice day-glo.’
This page: wetsuit and (below) Speedmask at Winning — The Design Of Sport. Facing page from top clockwise: Thomson’s ceiling at Holmwood House, 'Ursula' - a stainless steel bath from the Glasgow Collection, Edra Rose Chair from the Red exhibition, a low rider bicycle from Winning and Homes For The Future
cool Nike swoosh to the horror of the shellsuit - as well as the large-scale commercialisation of sport (whether it is sports goods themselves or sport stars being utilised for largely unrelated products).
Another topic tackled is safety. which critics fear will be neglected in the pursuit of higher performance and flashier design. Sue Andrew believes. however. that safety can never be separated from the aesthetics. arguing that '(‘hris Bonnington will always be more aware of having a secure safety harness rather than whether or not it is a nice day-glo’. As the disasters of lleysel and llillsborough - and the subsequent ditching of fan cages. followed by the construction of all-seater stadia across the country 7- have shown. safety can lead the design rather than being a secondary concern.
Aside from the technological overhaul in sports design. Andrew sees one other strand to the design revolution in sport. ‘Apart from something like football. which is obviously still an incredibly popular game. the emphasis has shifted from the team game to the individual sporting endeavour and their equipment.‘ she insists. ‘So. sports such as rollerblading and snowboarding are getting much bigger.’
But. of course. at the end of the day. it’s the taking part that counts.
Winning: The Design Of Sports, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, Sat 9 Jan—Mon 5 Apr.