Trend Watch: Steampunk
With all things inspired by the Industrial Revolution coming on strong in design, it’s entirely appropriate that a new exhibit at Oxford celebrates a fantasy-laden movement drawing on the Victorian era.
Steampunk: Contraptions + Devices Extraordinaire. Inspired by the Victorian Sciences. runs through February 2010 at Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science. Curated by American artist and designer Art Donovan, the exhibit includes works of sculptural art and design inspired by the inventions and authors of the Victorian period.
Steampunk borrows from Victorian design elements and craftsmanship, blending with modern sensibilities and technologies (think The Wild, Wild West with Will Smith). At the extreme, steampunk designs can be as curious as the curios the Victorians loved to collect, but at the same time, they are oddly entrancing and beguiling. Themes can range from the morbid (see the craniometer, above) to fantastical, Jules Verne-style inventions.
The recently released movie, The Young Victoria, also underscores the current pop-culture fascination with Victorian history. Steampunk has already made its way into home design (Jamie Young, Design Workshop, Peddler’s Home Design, among others) on a small scale, foreshadowing a bigger presence looming ahead.