Exhibit Design: The Little Things

This work was produced as part of our Multidisciplinary Design Studio. The course includes students from across the program to collaborate on London-centric productions.

Here, Charlie Orenstein presents a digital exhibition highlighting small items that one accumulates or uses often that may not have obvious significance at first glance.

Students design for real-world contexts in London’s Virtual Classroom

Syracuse London’s special Design Program offers participants the opportunity to take a course in design history, complemented by studio and academic electives in a world capital renowned for its cutting-edge design. Multidisciplinary subject areas allow students to dive deeper into industrial and interaction design, interior and environmental design, or communications design.

By working in a collaborative studio environment and making frequent excursions into the city, the program helps students to better understand London and the United Kingdom while learning how design saturates everyday life and defines people’s experiences in an urban environment.

The Little Things Collection

a proposed exhibit for the V&A designed by Charlie Orenstein

Objects hold meaning tied to experiences and memories, built upon through childhood and tradition, and create strong associations for us. The aim of this exhibit is to touch upon the audience’s roots and experiences. The value of an object is based in past interaction and memory. The sample objects here are associated with my London experience.

With a mother from England and a father from the US, I have spent much of my life between the two countries. When I was twenty-two, I was able to take my fourth year spring semester studying industrial design in London. It was the opportunity I had always hoped for: the chance to spend a long time in my second home. The two months that followed highlighted my love for England and brought me closer to friends and family. They also added to my collection of “little things”, and all of the memories that come with them.

This exhibit is designed for all audiences. The interactive machine is reminiscent of vending machines — and whether associated with lived experience, old films, or contemporary toys, its form is meant to evoke nostalgia for personal experiences regardless of age. No matter an attendee’s generation or origin, the exhibit’s classic form is meant to feel familiar. The short films are warm and vague, drawing on emotion rather than specific memories. These abstract depictions allow users to attach their own experiences to the space. When they find a specific film that resonates with them, the associated object will print on paper.

This small pair of jeans comes from Future Fabrics Expo I attended in January. Advance Denim is one of Asia’s most sustainable denim mills, using a unique dyeing technique to reduce water use. This key chain was passed along during my research interview.

Passed down from grandmother to granddaughter, this perfume bottle has been around for decades. Originally sold by Liberty, it still holds its original scent. Liberty is still a popular retailer today in London.
Small and mighty, this mini pork pie is from M&S. This item is ephemeral in the household, quickly eaten up by families. This timeless British classic has been around since the 1800s when it was first produced.
Along the Thames River, these ceramic cigarettes were scattered amongst rocks and human bones. Similar in shape to disposable cigarettes today, at the time, they were made with ceramics. Although ‘disposable’, these have lasted more than 100 years and tell a great story of the past.
Although its origin is uncertain, this item has been passed down from mother to daughter by rolling it around the house. Carried from place to place, this item is commonly used to patch up small rips in clothing or soft goods.