Selfridges founder Harry Gordon Selfridge (‘Mr Selfridge’ to ITV1 viewers) had a famous mantra: ‘Imagination is the mother of originality.’ He quite wisely believed that it’s the thinkers, dreamers and, as Selfridges is currently dubbing them, ‘imagineers’ who are responsible for the coolest, newest and smartest ideas that change the way we live.
To that end, the Oxford Street institution is putting on the Festival of Imagination: a month-and-a-half of talks, installations, arty events and creative happenings that celebrate the most impressive flights of fancy and look forward to the ingenious inventions that could change the future.
The store’s iconic windows have been placed in the hands of various conceptual designers to showcase ‘speculative architecture’, future technology and all manner of blue-sky oddness. While for its series of events, Selfridges has hooked up with like-minded cool geeks Lost Lectures and The School of Life as well as various ‘imagineers’ including inventor genius James Dyson and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
Superstar architect Rem Koolhaas has knocked together a space – the Imaginarium – as a venue for the leftfield programme which includes workshops on ‘Finding Flavour’ and ‘Understanding Terror’ as well as talks on clouds and how to grow your own fabric. The Imagine Shop, meanwhile, is where you can buy futuristic products and try out gadgets. Naturally, there are a lot of 3D printed goods, not to mention intriguing concepts such as GPS shoes and transparent speakers. You can also use augmented reality to explore a £300m yacht designed by architect Zaha Hadid.
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Tonight I had to stop myself crying. In a department store basement surrounded by people I'd never met. I have never listened to poetry, in real life. It was funny, uplifting and for some reason Carol Ann Duffy reminded me of my mum. Then, she read Water. I couldn't speak afterwards even though I wanted to say thank you. Maybe Carol Ann Duffy is a cheats introduction to poetry readings but Selfridges basement has never been so inviting. Bypass the cardboard hearts this Valentines day and buy your loved one Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy.
As a theatre director, exhibitions like this fascinate me - they're fulll of inspiration and ideas. I can't wait to go and check it out.