Our celebration of Creative Installations brings together a family of projects for the very first time. This family is slightly dysfunctional. They don’t look much alike, nor even have that much in common. But somehow, they belong together.
It was easy to identify the members, but it has been tricky to put our finger on exactly why this is. We realised that they are about getting outcomes made, just as much about creating as they are about being creative.
Here’s a hypothesis: I believe that Creative Installations are about celebration. Furthermore, I believe that we, as public, have rediscovered a sustained appetite to celebrate, a wish to be delighted and surprised in equal measures. It is no coincidence that the UK’s most significant design festivals were inaugurated shortly after the turn of the millennium (London Festival of Architecture in 2004, London Design Festival in 2003, and the Serpentine Pavilion in 2000). Maybe this is the real Millennium Bug.
The design community has embraced Creative Installations. Is it because it is a two-way-street? It is just as much about designers as it is about their clients and the audience. These are opportunities to explore new ideas or simply express through creating. It is also about how design can provide wonderful but unexpected experiences straight to the public. These interventions offer respite from the ordinary, albeit sometimes temporarily.
Some of our creative installations have transformed and created new purpose for spaces. We have performed (minor) urban acupuncture. For Oculus, we helped flood an underused car park in central London with 7000 sandbags, forming an amphitheatre centred around a suspended pool of water. The sandbags are long gone, but the space has now been reclaimed for public use.
Others have been motivated by a line of enquiry into design. The foyer of our London studio will once again be reimagined with another innovative structure designed with computational design techniques. We are exploring where technology will take us. A celebration of what can be.
We have also challenged what is possible with materials. Our work on Halo has pushed the limits of physical behaviour and realised Nissan’s brand message of “Innovation that Excites”. No strings are attached to the structure, although many visitors still look for them.
For Red Bull Flugtag in London 2008, we designed and built a man-powered flying machine for a single, one-way flight. A testimony to human endeavour, and our ability to engineer, we shared in rapture with a crowd of 80,000 in Hyde Park as our craft flew 39m before landing into the waters of the Serpentine. It was easily the longest and most elegant flight of the event.
On a personal level, I enjoy our Creative Installations because they permeate new experiences into the public domain. They are shared and talked about, eventually even becoming nostalgic. When working on these projects, we have to be agile but just as imaginative, dedicated, and rigorous with our design approach. They help us reconnect with craft and making. They also introduce us to new people, new audiences, and new places.
And it is only through the collaborative spirit that our Creative Installations family has grown to be so rich and diverse. Each relation has a story to tell and we invite you to join in celebration - above is the family portrait.