A presentation of Shaw’s design objects is mixed with historical design classics to create a fictive environment that tells the story of a couple negotiating the conflicting tastes and practicalities as they attempt to build a home together. It is a meditation on the sense of self which objects of daily use give us, and the role physical possessions, habits and compromise play in our relationships.
Shaw's objects and the arrangement of the display have been shaped by a new short story written by Stoppard, which was, in turn, inspired by the way Shaw’s objects look when placed alongside other furniture. The short story is available for visitors to the exhibition to take away.
When any couple move in together for the first time a clash of ideas about how we interact with the physical world emerges. Esoteric habits to do with tea-making or hand towels, which may well have been acquired from our parents or past relationships, are suddenly forced to co-exist. Daily dramas unfold as very particular views on stacking the dishwasher unite. Battlefields emerge around taste in chairs. The home becomes a negotiation table, a physical manifestation of our ability to accept, to tolerate, and to love.