Suspend your disbelief and enter the world of The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects, a design exhibition revealing the extra-ordinary possibilities of everyday objects.
Somerset House’s Terrace Rooms will be transformed into the headquarters of the Learned Society, an imagined venerable society inspired by the real history of Somerset House.
This unique exhibition centres on the power of imagination, narrative and storytelling within design. 30 contemporary designers, artists and makers – including British sculptor Richard Wentworth; ceramicist, Richard Slee; Scottish Indian artist, Jasleen Kaur; jewellery-maker Hans Stofer; and furniture designer, Max Frommeld - have been invited to become the new, 21st century Fellows of the Society, and create or contribute objects to this remarkable collection. These new Fellows’ designs will present ordinary objects with extra ordinary stories, or suggest playful and surprising modifications to familiar objects, reimagining our interaction with items we encounter in our everyday lives.
The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects takes inspiration from Somerset House’s own real-life history. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Somerset House was the home to the country’s greatest learned societies, including the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Arts. Society members would come together in the new ‘national building’ to discuss advancements and discoveries in their various fields. This exhibition mirrors that same sense of discovery and inquisitiveness and, by placing the designers’ fantastical objects within the story and setting of a Learned Society, will explore different ways of engaging with commonplace objects through creative design.
Curators Clarke and Clerkin will host two special evening events, on 18 July and 8 August, serving Sipsmith gin and tonic from behind the Society’s Famous Gin Bar. New Society Fellows will bring the Learned Society’s history to life with performances from William Warren’s The Prints of Whales band and DJ Phoebe Morris who will use ordinary objects in her set, accompanied by mouth-watering culinary offerings from Jasleen Kaur. Tickets for these events will be available in June.