A Day in the Life of Ernesto Bones
Client: Stanley Picker Gallery
Brief: Completion of a year-long fellowship at Kingston University, conducting research into a chosen aspect of design. Results to be exhibited at the Stanley Picker Gallery.
To fulfill the requirements of our fellowship Ab Rogers Design chose to examine the role of narrative in design and explore the dynamics of creative collaboration. Using the Surrealists’ favourite exercise Le Corps Exquis, or ‘exquisite corpse’, as a model, we developed the outcome into an installation in the gallery.
Our inspiration for the project came from visiting the perfectly preserved Stanley Picker House, a relic of 1960s domestic design by architect Kenneth Wood. An air of mystery surrounds the house and Stanley Picker himself, a make-up magnate whose posthumous foundation funds the gallery and the fellowship. To perpetuate this mystery we created a fantasy protagonist called Ernesto Bones – a man who hovers on the brink of existence.
The photographer John Short documented a selection of beautiful but everyday objects from the house, and we sent one photograph to 24 chosen contributors (who ranged from the culinary alchemist Heston Blumenthal to the composer Daniel Pemberton and Italian design master Andrea Branzi), asking them to elaborate on how this object had featured in one hour of Mr Bones’ life over a 24 hour period. Each collaborator was given their chosen time of day and the last sentence of the previous hour’s narrative. These 24 accounts in turn became the design briefs for a new series of objects derived from the events of the story that unfolded.
The objects which emerged included a deconstructed mirror silhouette, a self propelled cocktail shaker and a schizophrenic cabinet and formed a unique narrative installation, along with Ernesto’s brief, brutal life-story and the original photographs. First installed in the white-walled galleries of the Stanley Picker Foundation, it later travelled to Beijing to be shown in a delightfully dilapidated courtyard house in Dashilar, the city’s district of ancient alleyways.
These exhibitions then became a book that told Ernesto Bones’ creation story.