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Pentagram for Imperial College

Pentagram for Imperial College

We are delighted to share our part and that of others in the making of ‘The Circle of Benefactors’  installation at Imperial College. We were commissioned by Pentagram Design for Imperial college  to create the coloured glass discs for the modular installation which was inspired by the cellular structures of a living organism.

WATCH >> the film here

Key to the commissioning design team was the intention of making a long lasting installation that would be sustainable and scalable while minimising its environmental carbon footprint. With this in mind our glass studio,  and metal workers Fish Fabrications were commissioned to craft  this unique design. Both are UK micro businesses that avoid overproduction and waste of resources. Importantly,  when the circle of benefactors grows,  we can again craft these components when needed.


Glass discs


- The Design Team at Pentagram

With a site specific commission there are many participants creating and contributing to the outcome.  Each commission is an opportunity to build and be active in a creative ecosystem where all participants  benefit from the diversity of skill sets and different perspectives of each contributor. 

 

- Konrad The Mould Maker

The glass components required for the Circle of Benefactors installation needed to be specific, repeatable sizes and shapes to fit the fabricated metal structure holding them. To achieve this, we needed blowing moulds and we knew we would need the expert skills and know-how of our mould maker in Bavaria.  Konrad has been making the wooden tools and blow moulds for our workshop for nearly two decades.  

He lives in the rolling fields and low mountains of northern Bavaria.  The surrounding forests provide him with the trees he needs to practise his vocation.  His workshop is a former mill.  The mill pond is now where the felled logs are stored, submerged to keep them wet. Glass blowing moulds are constantly kept wet, and they are turned from green wood.  The mill race was diverted by his father years ago when the property was acquired to power two electric turbines.  The turbines supply electricity to the workshop and adjoining home

After numerous conversations investigating how Pentagram’s design could be realised in glass, a technical drawing  was emailed to Konrad so we could make a sample in glass.  He cut a paper maquette out of card as his turning guide, and a few days later the wooden mould arrived in London, smelling slightly swampy from the mill pond!  The next step in the process was underway.

- The Glass Maker

To our knowledge we are the only glass blowing studio in London that is using 100% recycled glass. With some help from our glass making community we were able to find a reliable source of colourless recycled glass.  This is the glass we’ve been using in our furnace for over a decade now.   

I am reminded that glass blowing relies upon teamwork every time I view photos of our process.  Many hands contribute to the outcome of each piece of glass we make.  Each of the roundels of recycled glass bears the name of one of the members of the Circle of Benefactors. The work evokes the cellular structure of a living organism, each roundel distinct from, yet in relation to, those around it.  

- The Metal Worker

A new commission introduces us to other makers and other craft disciplines.  By meeting new specialists, we often feel like our world has just gotten bigger and the potential of our creative expression to become more nuanced and honed.  It is thrilling to meet fellow makers whose skill and excellence contribute to  “the whole picture” in a commission.    Such is the case with Fish Fabrications. They produce fine metalwork for artists, designers, museums and galleries. Fish Fabrications are niche, and they are experts.  

Fish Fabrications manufactured the steel framework for the Circle of Benefactors installation at Imperial College.  The framework holds a series of glass roundels in  a variety of colours.  Each  roundel bears the name of one of the benefactors.  The installation can be appreciated from outside the building as well.





- The Installation

To describe The Circle of Benefactors installation, Pentagram states:

“This installation imagines the Imperial College  as a living organism. Beginning with the idea that cells are the building blocks of life, they wanted to explore the way in which individual cells in the organism act together as one, while each preserves its own distinctiveness. We were struck by how Imperial focuses both on the individual and on the big picture, and the importance of philanthropy in achieving that." 

It feels fitting for us to say that this commission by Imperial College also grew and supported another circle; a circle  of individual creatives that came together to craft  this installation.  It gave us  an opportunity to document, to develop, to be challenged, to be curious, to flourish, to learn, and to realise a project that has enabled all to participate. 

 


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