Instagram is probably the most popular smartphone application on the market today. Free and easy to use, it transforms photos by using filters and framing effects before sharing them online – everyone is an artist with Instagram.

We are all familiar with Instagram, we all use it and as easily as a double tap we show our appreciation for a #shamelessselfie or #cat image (there are 4, 104, 871 #cat photos on Instagram…).

Where Instagram plays an interesting role is in the realm of design. Debates regarding issues of re-appropriation and re-representation through the application of filters and framing, and questions of artistic property and integrity are continually considered. However, where Instagram has been widely embraced is in its ability to increase the circulation and accessibility of design works.

A particular example of this is the Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2013 – more commonly known as the Milano Design Week. Formally the largest trade fair of international furniture, lighting and interior design, the Salone Mobile is a display of leading contemporary designers.

Design Week in Milan is not bound to the Rho Fiera showgrounds where the trade fair is located. The entirety of Milan embraces the week with pop-up exhibits and temporary pavilions emerging around the city – from gardens of old palazzos, to cobblestone side alleys and vacant shells of inner-city buildings and industrial warehouses.

#Salondelmobile2013 and #Milandesignweek2013 have grouped together images from the week, bringing to the palms of our hands the innovative and up-and-coming installations lighting the grey Milanese streets. It is during this week when Milan is most alive and designers and design students make their pilgrimages, seeking inspiration and contemporary ideas.

Instagram gives us, from our hometown of Brisbane, access to the discoveries of our designer peers and fellow admirers, enabling us the same satisfaction and stimulation. Broadening our horizons and inspiring our creative outlook, Instagram places us in the heart of the design world.

Recurring images of a particular light installation demonstrate to us its successful reception and the changing angles and filters of representation give us an idea of the differing interpretations of – and interactions with – the piece.

Instagram users are not only artists but also critics. Through our framing and photographic narrative we voice our delights; with our liking and sharing we express our personal tastes and philosophies – all the while building a community with no bounds. Geography, language, race, age – nothing bars our access or restricts our opinion.

Instagram enables and celebrates the coming together of all design forms. It praises known artists and shares budding designers with the public.

Instagram offers a creative and critical voice to every individual – and we are all too ready to share our personal expressions.

Does Instagram offer the possibility for re-representation of designed works? Can filters alter artistic expression and create readings different from those intended by the creator?

Could a new forum for design exchange, of a similar nature, flourish?

Does Instagram replace the experience of design – are we content to view design on our phones or laptops? Have we lost the urge to examine artefacts on a 1:1 level? Do we no longer require to touch, smell and taste?


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