Interpreting Objects /
A Process of Perception


Interpreting objects, a process of perception explores concepts of displaying and experiencing objects in the context of museums.

It is a laboratory of collaboration at the meeting point of architecture, design and interpretation: Through a residency of the architect Pippa Nissen at Camberwell College of Arts BA Graphic Design students investigated and interpreted objects from the Camberwell Collection.

A Process of Perception

The general approach to museums presentations has evolved to adapt to our changing ways of seeing and processing information in visual culture and to encourage and enable closer encounters with collections in order to engage and widen audiences.

This project originally developed through my conversations with Pippa about these developments. Pippa designs exhibitions for major museums and I am as an artist and lecturer interested in our changing way of perceiving information.

We dicussed possibilities of employing two-dimensional elements creatively for the interpretation of artifacts in relation to viewer experiences.

The BA Graphics course at Camberwell aims to balance experimentation and playfulness with critical thinking to develop a visual intelligence that can be applied to different media. The impulse and stimulation from the practice of an architect in residence pushed and questioned this comprehensive approach of Graphic Design practise.

Graphic design is changing in response to a major shift towards greater audience participation and experience. New models of museum presentation allow for a more involved role for the designer going beyond conventional factual displays and moving into the realm of personal response and immersive experience.

The students starting point was the Camberwell Collection of functional objects from the fifties to the seventies. It is provisionally stored in the basement and attic of the College and information and labels are often limited.

Through a process of touching, measuring, replicating, photographing and enacting the use of their chosen objects students make personal sense of them.

Students experimented with different approaches to bringing the objects to life in a series of workshops at Camberwell College and the V&A. Investigating the “aura” of their chosen objects they worked to make their inherent qualities and stories visible.

They explored to what extent narrative, creative speculation, re-invention and playfulness are helpful in the process of interpreting objects for exhibition; and how we can engage the visitors to participate in these processes and findings.

 – Sigune Hamann

Entrepreneur in Residence

Thanks to Creativeworks London, myself and colleagues from NISSEN RICHARDS  studio, were able to work alongside the students at Camberwell, on the same project looking at the Camberwell Collection. We work through the disciplines of architecture, theatre design and exhibition design – and we are involved in telling stories through objects and artefacts.

With the students, we visited two of our current exhibitions – ‘Collider’ at the Science Museum, and ‘Music Hall: Sickert and the Three Graces’ at the V&A. As part of each visit someone from the studio also presented one of our current exhibition projects and the process that we were going through in that particular instance.

We relished taking the time to think about individual objects and having the freedom to be more playful and literal about the concepts, away from the time constraints of live projects. It became a hugely enjoyable and fruitful experience, enabling us to challenge our processes and reaching into our current projects. Most notably it has given us the confidence to employ a graphic designer as a permanent member of our team, where we can provide a more complete vision for museums in our work.

I also teach second year architecture students at Cambridge University alongside Edmund Wilson and we also set a similar project for our architecture students, but to design a permanent home for the collection as an imaginary extension to the Geffrye Museum. It was fascinating to see how the Cambridge students thought about similar themes as their Camberwell counterparts, but at different scale. Their focus was how to enable an encounter with the objects to take place; whereas the graphic design students thought about the detail of one object.

Pippa Nissen

Presentation at the V&A

Hosted by V&A Connects, Presentations, panel discussion, displays of projects and drinks. Funded through a Creative Entrepreneur-In-Residence Award by Creativeworks London.

BA Graphic Design students from Camberwell College of Arts and Architecture students from Cambridge University explore new way of displaying and experiencing objects.

11th March 2014
18.30 – 20.30


Entrepreneur in Residence:
Pippa Nissen director at NISSEN RICHARDS studio

Hosting institution:
Camberwell College of Arts

Project initiated by:
Sigune Hamann

Camberwell Collection:
David Garnett

Website Design:
Tom Merrell Studio

Funded by



Laurence Jordan

Detached Interactions

Vanessa Periam

Transparent Paperweight

Olivia Farmery

Shake it like a…

Stefan Graham


Samuel Jones


Peter Crabb

PLAY – Toying with planning and construction

Lydia Briggs

“Deptford’s my place, my kind of town as Sinatra said”

Kieran Peel

Reflecting the Imaginative

Dominika Sroczak


Beth Baines


Adriano Battaglia

Balance Building Set


Polish Easter Lamb

year unknown

Acrylic Paperweight

Year Unknown

Salt Shaker


Hackman & Co Teapot

Date Unknown

Wooden Animals

Year Unknown

Balancing Blocks


Picture Book Jigsaw: Old Town


Decorative Panel


Mamod Steam Tractor



Year Unknown