In September, London hosted its 10th annual Design Festival, an event and exhibition showcasing the country’s best and most inspirations designs, designers, retailers, manufacturers, educators – anyone and anything having to do with design. There were events held all over the city, including massive installations by some of the world’s most exciting and inspiring designers. I love to see art installed off of museum walls, so, although I didn’t actually go to London to see these in person (sigh), the most exciting new designs for me were the installations that took over whole spaces. Two project in particular looked truly transformational: Benjamin Hubert’s Amass screen for the trade show auditorium and Najla El Zein’s windmill gate.
Our office has loved Benjamin Hubert’s lights all year (stay tuned a bio-type post on him soon), so it’s no surprise that I’m a fan of his take on a partition for the Festival’s trade show auditorium. Hubert’s Amass partition is a series of branches delicately hanging from top supports. The result is an ethereal screen in an organic form which both defines the space but also provides enough transparency to let passers-by get a glimpse of the activity within.
The branches actually are injection-moulded polypropylene, assembled from a kit of parts. After the event is over, the branches can be taken apart and reassembled for another event or venue. Hubert’s plan is to sell Amass as screen/partition/wall for other commercial and contract projects. Amass comes as a kit of parts which allows for many variations in assembly. To get a better idea of how these parts come together, check out this video taken of the Amass installation at the Festival.
Like Hubert’s Amass, Najla El Zein Studio’s The Wind Portal also blurs the definition of wall, partition, and door. The portal is a transition element between the Festival’s trade show and the outside, but one that charmingly interacts with those walking by.
The gate is a series of 5,000 windmills precisely placed to and controlled by a computerized wind system, which spins different windmills at different times and at different speeds. The installation isn’t completely about control, as the movement of air caused by passers-by also causes the windmills to turn. It’s thrilling when you can see how your actions directly affect your surroundings and Najla El Zein created a lovely way for that to happen.
Zein says that “the installation aims to make visitors feel and hear that they are transitioning between two spaces. It defines an exaggeration of a specific sensorial movement that each of us experiences throughout our daily lives.” Watch the video to see how people react – it’s wonderful.