The Victoria and Albert Museum is an art and design institution of global standing with whom Cultureshock has been a deeply embedded partner for over a decade, working with the communications and press, development, marketing, membership and curatorial departments and the Director’s office. It is a collaboration that starts with the editorial board at its heart, and based on the exhibition programme, we work to create the stories and content that link to the outside world in the form of annual reports, a regular members’ magazine, films for the website and inflight entertainment, membership packs and annual reviews. Each piece of content and the platform on which it is delivered is consistent with the V&A values and mission, as well as specific to the particular audience – from members looking to renew their membership to patrons and the press.
In 2014, Cultureshock produced the V&A’s Annual Review for the first time. With a new approach involving essays contributed by leading writers, critics and academics, as well as specially commissioned photography, it communicated the V&A’s achievements over the twelve-month period it was required to address while becoming a highly readable, well-informed publication that provoked debate in all spheres of art and design.
Following the success of the 2013–14 Annual Review, Cultureshock built on this innovative dual approach for the V&A’s 2015–16 publication. In effect, we had broken the tradition of producing dry, purely fact- and numbers-based résumés of the year for cultural institutions. Once again, the review communicated the museum’s achievements while at the same time investigating the themes at the heart of its activities during the year.
In 2003 we launched the first V&A Magazine, designed to communicate the museum’s core messages to the membership as well as provide an international voice and vision beyond the institution’s walls.
The magazine has been a key element in the highly successful ongoing drive to increase the number of members and has become a springboard for our relationship with the museum beyond print and focused on the community and the institution’s relevance in the current cultural climate.
Every two to three years, the V&A commissions a new membership pack to ‘give art back’ to its members. In 2012 and 2014, Cultureshock was asked to produce new membership packs, which needed to contain the latest issue of V&A Magazine, a new membership card and information about the members’ programme.
In 2012, we commissioned the popular artist Rob Ryan to design the front cover of the pack, while also incorporating elements of his design in the pack interior. The design was printed in a blue metallic ink to give the pack richness and tactility.
We commissioned Agi & Sam (GQ Menswear Fashion Designers of the Year 2014) to design the cover for the 2014 membership pack. The duo took inspiration from fabric found in the archives at the V&A Clothworkers’ Centre. We introduced three matt foils on black stock to re-create the cloth’s texture and bring the design alive.
Films: British Airways Channel
The editorial process involved in creating V&A Magazine strengthened our relationship with the museum team and pointed up the need to extend the content online and beyond the usual museum platforms.
In response, we developed and launched the V&A Channel on the V&A website in 2011, and then extended the concept to British Airways in-flight entertainment in October 2015.
V&A Channel presents a selection of entertaining, informative and beautifully shot films focusing on the museum’s magnificent collections and leading artists and designers. We work with the V&A to launch new films every four months, producing original content and curating the channel. We consult for the museum on initiatives to generate new revenues, attract new audiences and realise sponsorship opportunities.
Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion
We were commissioned to create a series of films for the V&A’s exhibition, Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion to be installed in the show and circulated on the museum’s digital platforms. Cristóbal Balenciaga’s innovative pattern-cutting and use of new materials and bold architectural shapes has been greatly influential on a new generation of fashion designers. We interviewed Molly Goddard, Gareth Pugh and Josep Font for Delpozo to reveal how ‘The Master’ of couture has inspired their 21st-century design practice.
We also filmed at the French embroidery house Lesage, famous for its virtuoso craftsmanship. Like Cristóbal Balenciaga, François Lesage, who ran the house in the 1950s and 60s, wanted to introduce unusual materials into his couture. The film we created shows embroiderers at the Lesage workrooms today, recreating the hot-pink beading and sequin work of Balenciaga’s 1967 evening coat.
Held every two years at the V&A, the Jameel Prize is awarded for excellence in art and design inspired by the Islamic tradition. Cultureshock was asked to produce a series of films for the exhibition and online. We created a teaser which was published when the shortlist announcement was made, a series of films profiling each of the eleven shortlisted designers and artists and a film for use in the exhibition and its touring venues. Interviews with the artists and designers in multiple languages and shots of their studio environments and work provide insights into their working process.
The Fabric of India and Bejewelled Treasures
Cultureshock was commissioned by the V&A to produce filmed content for two major exhibitions, The Fabric of India and Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection. Shot on location in workshops and studios across India in 4k resolution, the films document traditional and contemporary Indian craft and manufacturing processes spanning textiles, fashion and jewellery. Working with the exhibition teams and the digital team, we created online and social media versions for both exhibitions, delivering over thirteen films. Two examples can be seen here:
We also work with the V&A’s partners to support them in communicating to the V&A audience and positioning their involvement with the institution.
We worked with Sennheiser to produce film content around two V&A exhibitions, David Bowie is and You Say You Want a Revolution: Records and Rebels 1966-1970. Both shows included sound experience by Sennheiser, with whom we collaborated, alongside the V&A, to produce behind-the-scenes films, private view films and exhibition trailers.