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Working with Artists

BDP works closely with artists and recent collaborations have been on projects such as Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, The Hive at Kew, Grosvenor estate in Mayfair and Royal Pharmaceutical Society. We explore these design collaborations from four different viewpoints of art consultant, artist, interior designer and client.

Words | Lesley Greene | Art Consultant

Design collaborations can be like old-fashioned love affairs, with the art consultant curating the art and being a kind of bridge support. The engagement is about listening and learning but is also full of mutual passions, aspirations and anxieties. It’s usually between two parties but sometimes involves an extended family.

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Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, UK

Family is central to the ethos of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Achieving a unique place inspired by children defined the underlying principles of the design and construction but also required a complex dialogue between artist and designer with patients, siblings, parents and staff.

From the outset a Children and Young People’s Design Group, supported by parents and staff, as well as the adult Art Strategy Group set out their design aspirations. The Trust wanted a key artist to collaborate with the designers to bring to life the hospital. So once the architectural form had been developed a lead artist, Lucy Casson, was commissioned. Lucy came with a unique aesthetic that the young people found child friendly but not patronising. “She was keen to share ideas... she always asked for our input… she really is taking our feedback on board…”

Wanted - a good team of artists and architects who will listen to us!

Lesley Greene Art Consultant

The artist’s elements include carved fossil creatures and quirky plant forms integrated into the concrete panels, a central hanging feature sculpture, bronze animals on benches, manifestation designs and curtain designs. It is an open narrative that playfully shares the designer’s wayfinding vision and creates a place with detail and texture, with creatures that can be touched and add smiles, hopefully distracting some sadness.

Throughout the whole process both artist and designers were enthusiastic, mutually supportive and respectful of the aspirations of the young people. It is to their credit that a brief inspired by, and in collaboration with, children and young people weaves a unique and quirky animal magic at the heart of this new hospital.

Words | Wolfgang Buttress | Artist

For the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo my vision was to create an immersive installation integrating art, science, music and architecture.

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The Hive, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK

To realise this vision I brought together an interdisciplinary design team of architects, musicians, engineers, landscape architects and lighting designers which allowed the ideas to truly evolve. Without this collaborative process the project wouldn’t have been the success it was, or as humane and inclusive.

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The Hive, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK

The same team has been instrumental in bringing the Hive to Kew Gardens, having worked with them on previous projects and knowing we shared a vision. It was a true collaboration in that egos did not restrict us but instead our different disciplines enabled us to let go where necessary and as required.

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The Hive, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK

Words | Kristen Liedl | BDP Interior Designer

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society wanted its new headquarters building to resonate key messages to its staff, members, visitors and public relating to the society’s founding aims and 175 year heritage as well as its role in improving public health at the cutting edge of scientific developments in medicine and treatments. It also wanted to create transparency so that the public would be able to understand its values and what it does, simply by looking in.

These objectives were achieved through close collaboration within the design team throughout the project. The client, the art consultancy, Acrylicize, and BDP’s interdisciplinary in-house team all worked together to ensure the society’s new home has a distinctive presence.

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Royal Pharmaceutical Society, London, UK

One external feature is a graphic representation of the six words deemed to best describe what the society is about - health, science, pharmacists, medicines, people and care. Another striking component is a Vitruvian man, visible by day and illuminated at night. A final feature is a collage using images of 360 pharmacists set within two storey high glass boxes to showcase the society as a people-centred organisation.

Internally the scientific theme is carried throughout the building using devices such as full height etched glass screens of various chemical compounds and the society’s museum collection of past and present pharmacy – all of which gives its new home a clear identity.

Vitruvian man, visible by day and illuminated at night

Kristen Liedl BDP Interior Designer

Words | Nigel Hughes | Grosvenor Client

Laid out by the Grosvenor family in the early 18th century, Mayfair’s original street pattern remains clearly visible. For 300 years, the Grosvenor family has taken a direct interest in not only the buildings but also the streets, gardens and public art that helps to make Mayfair and Belgravia such special places today.

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Silence in Carlos Place, Mayfair by architect artist Tadao Ando, London, UK

In 2007, Grosvenor published Jan Gehl’s ‘Places for People - a public realm strategy for Mayfair & Belgravia’. Fundamental to making the estate more attractive as a place in which to live, work or visit is increasing the appeal of its public space by reducing traffic, improving streetscape and increasing greenery.

Public art is key to this aspiration. For nearly ten years BDP has been our principal partner in achieving this ambition, either through designing art as part of its landscape proposals, collaborating with the artist as with ‘Silence’ by Tadao Ando in Carlos Place, or by providing a setting for public art on buildings alongside its public realm improvements as with ‘Room’ by Sir Anthony Gormley in Brown Hart Gardens. Each time the relationship between client, designer and artist has been key to making Mayfair an even better place.