Type: Public Realm Intervention
Collaborators: Dale Hickman & Golnoosh Ardestani
In what ways can we rethink a city centre and find alternative uses for our retail spaces and units? The Loft Birmingham was a public intervention in the heart of the city centre that began by asking these questions.
Over a 6-month period, we installed a pop-up shop with a difference. Rather than supply goods in exchange for funds, our sole purpose was to open a space in the city that supported emerging creatives in expanding their work and presence. The 950sqft unit was split into two halves: one, a dedicated exhibition & event space that allowed artists and public to interact, and the other an affordable studio to allow artists to investigate, take risks and experiment with their practice.
The project was hugely successful locally within Birmingham’s creative scene, and also reached further afield, inspiring similar projects to start in cities like Athens, Greece.
For more information and an overview of the programme, please visit The Loft’s Facebook page here.
Type: Object + Installation
Commisioned by: Stan's Cafe, RSC & Billesley Primary School
Collaborators: Matthew Foster (Fabricator), Golnoosh Ardestani & Year 5 pupils from Billesley Primary School
Stan’s Cafe is a nationally recognised touring theatre company based in Birmingham. They presented us with the challenging yet exciting brief to create a completely flatpack and mobile stage, which could fit into a standard sized transit van when collapsed. The design also required original theatre elements such as a proscenium arch and stage entries from both left and right.
Working with year 5 pupils from Billesley Primary School to develop the design, our response resulted in a contemporary take on the traditional stage. The majority of the structure used birch plywood with inserted captive nuts to speed up installation time, red vinyl created the geometric graphic front, and we built in 4 entry points including a slidable back door exit. Crucially, all components were designed to fit into the hollow base of the stage when flatpacked, keeping it compact for transit.
The flatpack theatre stage has now toured over the last two summers at The RSC and has featured a variety of performances. Further information and images of performances can be found here.
Type: Action Research
Collaborators: Amy Martin & Leah Das
Experimentation, play and
learning form the foundation to our creative process and Future C U R I O U S is an example of where this thrives. This research-based project is driven by dialogue between people, artists and futurists, and investigates the possible futures we want to see and create.
We kickstarted it in 2015, with The Future C U R I O U S Summer Festival powered by MAC Birmingham’s Next Generation programme. Working alongside Amy Martin, we developed a programme that enabled young people to explore future innovation and technology through creativity. The festival aimed at aspiring and emerging artists in particular, and provided a wide range of free and open access talks, lectures, workshops, labs and commissions to explore future
arts practice in relation to technological change.
Future C U R I O U S is an ongoing project and currently entering its next phase. To find out more and keep up to date with the project, please visit futurecurious.net
Type: Visual Communication
Commisioned by: Doink
Ministry of Data was developed as the world’s first data rave and looked at the EU referendum through curated data. It asked how information can inform our choices, and was designed to help young people make more informed decisions, whilst canvassing their opinions in an interesting way.
Our role was to brand the project, as well as plan the event and exhibition from start to finish. We designed a bold, graphic response which featured intense and rich colours, and produced a variety of brand assets including t-shirts, postcards and posters.
Type: Design Direction + Stratergy
Collaborators: Philip Thompson
The Tetley Gallery launched a competition for artists to redesign their learning studio that hosts a variety of arts and crafts activities. The brief asked us to consider how they managed storage to allow workshop tutors to easily pack or unpack items away, yet also required the room to be multipurpose and able to display artwork or hold other events when needed.
As the learning studio can be versatile, we realised it was key to consider how the space and user experience would connect together when an activity is about to commence. The rectangular room required softening, ease-of-use, adaptability and simple storage solutions.
Our response was to design chairs and tables with soft curved edges, and able to adapt in height for both child and adult users. Tables featured detachable legs so could be neatly placed away in storage areas at the side of the room. Finally, we selected soft and friendly colours which were integral to a space used by a variety of ages.
Type: Objects + Installations
Commisioned by: Fort Dunlop
Collaborators: Matthew Foster (Fabricator)
An integral part of Birmingham’s industrial history, Fort Dunlop established its business with the production of Dunlop tyres in the 1900s. Whilst industry has largely moved out of the city, today the Fort Dunlop building cherishes its heritage, but brings a contemporary update with its varied retail and office spaces.
As the summer months brought bright colours and exciting street food to Birmingham, Fort Dunlop prepared for their own food festival ‘Bite Street Food’. We were commissioned to create street furniture to be used by eager foodies during the festival.
To reflect the history of the building, we used old oil barrels and redesigned them into bar tables and benches. Bright colours and simple geometric lines were used to bring a modern update, in line with the Fort Dunlop of today.
Type: Public Realm Intervention
Commissioned by: Birmingham Architectural Association
Collaborators: Co-Lab + BCU Students
The Love Architecture Festival encourages people to enjoy local architecture through practical and engaging activities that celebrate the many aspects of buildings that we use regularly.
We were tasked to create a mobile piece that would engage with members of the public during the festival. The aim was to get people to observe their surroundings and draw or make a model of their favourite piece of architecture in Birmingham.
Working with BCU and Co:Lab students over three weeks, we went from concept through to fabricating a moveable structure that allowed people to draw or make in-situ. Parts of the structure could be dismounted to create a drawing board and two table-top making areas could be opened at the sides. These areas also featured digital screens to showcase examples and ideas to people participating.
Commisioned by: Ravensbourne University
Collaborators: Gerard Mensah (Designer), Jean-Paul Tugirimana (Designer)
Based in South-East London, Ravensbourne University is known for its courses in digital media, fashion and music production. With prominent alumni such as the late David Bowie and Stella McCartney, it is recognised as one of the best universities in England for creative arts.
To celebrate the university’s relocation and rebranding, they wanted an installation for their end of year graduation show. We worked with two others to design and make a 3D object constructed from the 3 shapes key to the new Ravensbourne logo. The installation was located at the Ravensbourne University campus during it’s opening year.