Disobedient Objects

The V & A presents the first exhibition to explore objects of art and design from around the world that have been created by grassroots social movements as tools of social change. Most interestingly the implements used are often formed of very low quality, inanimate or house hold objects; proving that effective design need not be expencive.

Disobedient Objects demonstrates for mostly how simplicity can be effective and how non-commervisl makers can collectively produce a rapid response to complex situations.

Within the exhibition is a range of Bone china with transfers printed in green, bearing the emblem of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) used to promote women’s right to vote in Britain, one of the earliest pieces in the collection.


Hanging from the ceiling is a pair of Inflatable cobblestones, used in Barcelona in 2012 during the general strike made by  action of Eclectic Electric Collective in co-operation with Enmedio collective. A continuous film projected onto the wall accompanies the objects to show how and why they were used.

Not only do these objects come from within the conflict, but also after. the Chilean Arpilleras wall hangings were made by women as a way to talk out about their experiences of conflict past and present.

Much of the collection is on loan directly from the activist groups such as the Graffiti Writer; a Robot that writes street graffiti behind it from the Institute for Applied Autonomy, USA, designed in 1998. Context is supplied with the objects along with the makers statement to explain how and why the object was created and why.


“This exhibition celebrates the creative ‘disobedience’ of designers and makers who question the rules. it shows that even with the most limited of resources, ordinary people can take design into their own hands. this is a brave and unusual exhibition; these are brave and unusual designers.” -Martin Roth, Director of the V&A .

The exhibition opens to the public on the 26th of July.

Words: Jessica MacNally

Photography: Jessica MacNally, Martin Melaugh, Victoria and Albert Musem, London

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