James Bond. Licence to….design

During my week in Rio I talked about the enduring appeal of James Bond so, upon my return, I made my way to the Barbican to see the exhibit “Designing 007 – 50 Years of Bond Style”.

The blurb promised to “….celebrate the skill, imagination and ambition of the filmmakers and designers who have created the look of Bond.”. I think they achieved this. In turn the exhibits look at Gold (with some original items from both Goldfinger and The Man With The Golden Gun, Ian Fleming himself, M, Q, Casino, Foreign Territories, Villains and then, the weakest area of them all, Ice Palace.

Over a martini afterwards (a nice touch to include a martini bar but it could have been executed so much better – and more profitably) one could not but feel that if you wanted to catalogue the last 50 years in terms of design, music, technology, up and coming acting talent, cars….you could do no better than simply throwing someone the entire boxed set of Bond films.

Design and trend wise they straddle the line between ‘of-the-moment’ and ‘ahead of their time’. In particular the gadgets are almost spot on in terms of what would happen – space battles and invisible cars aside.

The original design sketches are the real joy. It reminds you that behind the final manifestation there is real creativity. Designers come in all guises but the likes of Sir Ken Adam are in a league of their own. As well as Bond throughout the 1960s and 1970s he also designed the sets for Dr Strangelove.

The exhibition is a consumer machine and the first section is a bit of a scrum despite timed tickets but it’s worth a visit and will absorb you for 90 minutes.


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