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On the map: Artist Kristjana S Williams


Words Yolanda Zappaterra

We're giving away Kristjana S Williams's latest Svart Lundunar Kort map of London print, worth £250, thanks to Outline Editions (see them at Designjunction, Victoria House, V19).

Simply follow us on Twitter and share the article using @DesignCurial and we'll enter you into the draw. For more information, read the competition Terms and Conditions.

Portraits Ivan Jones

Once upon a time, on an island quite far away, a little girl who was desperate to find the warmth, light and colour her homeland lacked, discovered an enchanted world. More prosaically, it was in a geography class in Iceland that the little girl, Kristjana Williams, found this world when she was introduced to the art of cartography. Here were all manner of exotic places literally thousands of miles away from the monochrome landscape surrounding her, and little Kristjana devoured them, poring over maps of places filled with the colourful flora and fauna she loved but couldn't experience. 'I used to draw these maps and fill them in, and that was the happiest I've ever been. I'd imagine where I would go and what I would do,' she recalls.

Kort af Kornwelli, a reworking of the map of Cornwall — part of a group show earlier this year at the POP gallery in Wadebridge
Kort af Kornwelli, a reworking of the map of Cornwall -- part of a group show earlier this year at the POP gallery in Wadebridge

Of course many artists' work is rooted in their formative early years, but few are as inspired as this most colourful of illustrators to so emphatically work against them. Where her home country is all greyscale palette, chiaroscuro lighting and huge horizontal planes -- a very modernist, minimalist sense of the world, if you will -- Williams' work is, and always has been, the opposite. Her maps and prints are so lushly colourful, so excessive, that they feel like the visual equivalent of eating a box of rich, inventive and, crucially, hand-crafted chocolates.

One-off pieces are created by layering up cut-out images taken from 18th-century engravings, ephemera and drawings
One-off pieces are created by layering up cut-out images taken from 18th-century engravings, ephemera and drawings

For as Williams spent hours over outlines filled in with colourful contours, rivers and cities, something else was taking shape too: a love of the maps themselves. 'Looking at the incredible craftsmanship behind them was endlessly fascinating,' she says, and judging from a studio filled with the jewel-bright colours she works with, not just on maps and globes, but on shawls, cushions, furniture and prints, it's obvious that craftsmanship continues to enthrall her just as much as exotic locations and narratives. It's this love that, in just four years since setting up the Kristjana S Williams Studio, has fuelled extraordinary collaborations and projects.

Multi coloured butterflies are a recurring motif in Williams’ work
Multi coloured butterflies are a recurring motif in Williams' work

With Osborne & Little, Williams has created the Modern Botanicals range of wallpapers; for underwear brand Triumph she designed a brilliant A/W 2013 campaign; with German audio company Sennheiser she collaborated on an interactive installation at Design Shanghai 2014 that took visitors on a magical journey through a spirit-filled forest; and for designjunction last year she took part in a charity project that saw her apply her bold palette of colours and natural forms to an Ercol Originals stacking chair.

Multi coloured butterflies are a recurring motif in Williams’ work
Multi coloured butterflies are a recurring motif in Williams’ work

Multi coloured butterflies are a recurring motif in Williams' work

The process behind these pieces lies everywhere around us as we talk in her studio in west London: 3D collages made up of thousands of pieces of paper -- taken from 18th-century engravings, photographs, ephemera and drawings -- built up into rich, multilayered tapestries of extraordinary intricacy that are then turned into fine-art prints or transferred on to all manner of textiles and other surfaces.

The Magic of Mayfair storytelling art  that redefined of the 200 years of the idiosyncratic details…

One large artwork hanging on the wall probably comprises hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pieces of paper. The amount of work that's gone into it is staggering, and its impressive dimensions -- 5m high and 2.8m wide -- clearly reflect Williams' increasing interest in scale. In its final home on the 32nd floor of the Shard, it will be displayed as a backlit glass piece. It will sit alongside new London maps filled with delicate filigreed buildings composed of thousands-of-a-millimetre-thin paper, that looks like a beautiful Spirograph work. 'I'm so excited about it because I love the Shard,' says Williams.

The Magic of Mayfair storytelling art  that redefined of the 200 years of the idiosyncratic details…
The Magic of Mayfair storytelling art that redefined of the 200 years of the idiosyncratic details...

'For the longest time I only drew from nature to make my collages, and it's still a huge and constant influence and inspiration -- its shapes, forms and symmetry amaze me every day. But working on this project, I've been influenced so much by the city. I love its mixture of history and architecture, from Kew Gardens to new, stark buildings set against historic palaces and cottages, and I love that it's so different to Iceland, where the visual landscape is entirely dictated by nature,' she says.

Globes, created with globe-maker Grieves & Thomas, are made by applying 12 printed gores to a sphere, the same way it has been done since 1507
Globes, created with globe-maker Grieves & Thomas, are made by applying 12 printed gores to a sphere, the same way it has been done since 1507

At the other end of the scale from the Shard work is a recent project that uses Williams' more classical natural forms, but again referencing the built environment and heritage of an iconic London building. Working with The Partners, Williams has created an artwork for The Connaught hotel in Mayfair that draws on its history, which the design group then used as the basis for 160 branded items, from 'Do not disturb' room signs to menus, umbrellas and even playing cards. 'I loved that process.

Skagfjord chesterfield armchair and sofa, in fabrics intricately decorated with foliage, butterflies and parrots
Skagfjord chesterfield armchair and sofa, in fabrics intricately decorated with foliage, butterflies and parrots

I'm still very careful about picking projects that feel like a good marriage; if the right history and everything else is in place, and there's a body of research work I can delve into that will feed my imagination and creativity, that's perfect. And with The Connaught, where I spent two nights totally immersing myself in its world and history, that was definitely the case,' says Williams. She's similarly enthusiastic about a range of ceramics she's working on for Fortnum & Mason, which has led her to Stoke-on-Trent to steep herself in the process behind the range's journey from collages to finished forms.

What unites these seemingly disparate projects is Williams' love of working with talented collaborators. 'With my work the process changes depending on the form; applying, learning and bringing other considerations to each project, I have a certain vision, but then of course that develops through the relationship with the makers. That's particularly true with the ceramics, but was also true of working on the globes with master globe-maker Grieves & Thomas. I enjoy letting go of the control and sharing a problem, which is why I love working with collaborators and on interactive experiences,' she explains. 'Because it's not just my brain, it makes the work more adventurous and the process one that's constantly about learning and experiencing new things,' she adds.

Exotic wallpaper murals feature pink flamingos and African wildlife among other magical creatures
Exotic wallpaper murals feature pink flamingos and African wildlife among other magical creatures

For someone whose work is so rooted in the physical world, Williams has always had a keen interest in interactivity and the opportunities it gives people to create their own versions of her work. 'Creating an experience is what I really love doing. I like that my work invites people in and they can have their own narrative,' she says. This is something she first did for the London Design Festival at the V&A in 2011 with the Interactive Print Journey, which mixed murals and furniture with an iPad app that let users take the print apart and create their own.

'I was warned that I shouldn't show people my own process for fear of it being copied, but I think people don't want to create what you already have, they want to create their own work. And that's exactly what happened,' she remembers.

She's currently developing an even bigger interactive idea, the intriguingly named Engraved Nordic Audio Expedition, which plays on the mythological aspects of Nordic narrative and brings in paintings, paper-cut animals, aural elements and a range of other features to create an interactive experience and soundscape that will travel through countries like a menagerie of wonder.

Exotic wallpaper murals feature pink flamingos and African wildlife among other magical creatures
Exotic wallpaper murals feature pink flamingos and African wildlife among other magical creatures

'In my ideal world I'd be doing things like that more because I love them, but it's very hard to make it pay,' says Williams. Still, for the time being, she's in demand for a growing number of absorbing projects that do pay, including a children's book to be published in September, a pitch with Yoo Architects for a 4m-tall wall piece in Lebanon, and a return to her roots with a map of Iceland that incorporates everything from elves and Viking ships to the flora and fauna of the country, polar bears and sea life -- 'things taken from all the stories I was told as a child,' says Williams. Maybe at some point her Engraved Nordic Audio Expedition will see the light of day, but it will have to fight things out with other wish-list projects... including architectural ones.

'I'd love to create my own building. I love the idea of having complete freedom to construct something room by room from my imagination,' she enthuses. 'My brain is going more and more three-dimensional. I've been looking at lots of paper-cut origami and construction drawings, and I would love to work with Norman Foster. I don't know why but the idea slightly gives me goose bumps. He's got such a strong, exciting vision, and people always seems to be at the heart of it. He's done everything from incredible buildings to cruise ships -- I'd like to be a part of something like that!'

Kristjana's Williams CV

  • Born in Norfolk, England, 1974
  • Moved to Iceland 1976
  • Trained as a survey or in London, mid-Nineties
  • Did a part-time art foundation at the City Lit, aged 23-25, where she was told there was no point applying to Central Saint Martins because no one from City Lit ever got into Saint Martins
  • Applied and was accepted to Saint Martins, graduating in illustration in 2003 despite 'hating it and being hated by the teachers'
  • Co-founded (with Jo Jackson and Kate Harwood) fashion and lifestyle brand Beyond the Valley as a community and not-forprofit collective
  • Set up Kristjana S Williams studio in 2012
  • 2012-present: Wins nominations for a D&AD Yellow Pencil, a first prize in the New York Festivals Grand Prix, and is shortlisted for the Cannes Lions Advertising Awards and a Clio Award.

Read more:

Sandcastles on Mars

The solution to London's transport problem

Brixton Street Gallery


Focus: Sustainability


Words by John Bullock

Someone once compared embracing a sustainable way of doing things to climbing a mountain. At first the air smells sweeter and the views get better, but eventually you find it more difficult to breathe without help. It's a decent metaphor for a process that depends on an entirely new way of seeing the world and how we go about our business. Join me for a stroll in the foothills.

It helps to start out with the broadest possible look at why sustainability is important. As a species we have been ripping whatever we feel like out of our planet with little regard for what might happen next. Now we're running out of all kinds of stuff and we're starting to experience the consequences of 300 years of nature-pillage.

That statement is considered political in some quarters - the commie ecoleft having a pop at the establishment right - which just adds to the general fug of confusion. And even when the Pope gets involved, there's still no certainty as to which way the route to Sustainability Summit is going to work.

Here's three broad headlines in the sustainability argument, roughly: what we need to do today, what we need to do tomorrow, what we need to do by the weekend - or something like that.

Climate change
I don't usually write about climate change as a component of sustainable behaviour, but I do write about the continual burning of non-renewable energy if there were no tomorrow. But let's look at climate change because that's what's getting the greatest number of people exercised.

Some 97 per cent of the world's scientists who know about this stuff agree that climate change is caused by us - you and me, our friends and families - as well as all those nice people halfway around the world who make all those cheap products for us. And if we don't do something about it NOW, then we face cataclysmic weather changes that will destroy our ability to feed the world's people and which will dramatically change the contours of countries with a coastline. London is at risk as well as the Maldives.

The lighting industry has done fantastically well in shifting to a low-energy environment. The replacement of filament lamps by CFL and more recently by LED is a great story and one of which we should all be immensely proud.

Objective 1: To move exclusively to energy-efficient sources and to use lighting control to manage the use of those sources.

One of the most recent incarnations of the Pay Per Lux system is at Schiphol Airport
One of the most recent incarnations of the Pay-per-Lux system is at Schiphol Airport

The circular economy
Maybe it just helps to be an internationally known sports personality, but doors have opened for yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur. She has been given a platform to speak to international business leaders about the importance of not throwing things away, and that is why the circular economy is now on the agenda of many global companies.

'Circular economy' is a new title for something that we've known about for a long time - the simple idea that we don't throw things away. It might be counterintuitive for a capitalist system that relies on overconsumption and planned obsolescence to want to hold on to things, but most of us recognise in our own lives how we're surrounded by objects that have outlived their original intention but still manage to hold on to a degree of usefulness: furniture that comes down the generations to us, favourite tools and appliances that might be held together with string but we wouldn't dream of being rid of bicycle, which is now more than 30 years old and still as good as new, despite the mileage that it's expected to cover even now.

There are two chief thrusts in the sustainability argument in favour of the circular economy: firstly, the longer a manufactured item stays in service, the more the original energy and material resources taken to make that item is amortised across its years of life. This is a good thing. And secondly, while an item is in use we are not calling on yet more mineral resources to be dug out of the planet to replace it. Again, this is a good thing.

There is only one thing about the current circular economy that gives me cause for concern, and that is the monetisation of waste. The principle of the circular economy requires that the original makers retain a degree of control over the finished goods so that the materials within that product can be returned to the manufacturing loop in an efficient way. This sounds like a good thing - and there's no reason why it shouldn't be a good thing, except for one potential problem.

High Technology Lighting’s Quartet downlight: fittings need to be designed to be broken down into individual component parts for effective recycling
High Technology Lighting's Quartet downlight: fittings need to be designed to be broken down into individual component parts for effective recycling

At the moment, recycled materials - especially in the electronics sector, and therefore increasingly lighting, are often processed by the poorest people on the planet. There are horrendous statistics quoted by Dr Thuppil Venkatesh, director of the National Centre for Lead Poisoning in India: 'Half of children in a city like Bangalore already have blood lead levels at about 10 micrograms per decilitre, which has resulted in a reduction in their intelligence quotient. We are seeing more and more cases now because more and more electronic waste is being handled by our people.'

My question to global business leaders is, what level of intervention do they propose to change this appalling situation - or are they happy to stay with the status quo?

Objective 2: Lighting equipment should be designed to be taken apart so that long-life components (heat sinks and the like) can be reused. Electronic circuitry should be designed to alleviate the current toxicity of the recycling process.

A leasehold future
The common description of our industrial culture is: It Takes - It Makes - It Wastes. We are all used to, and happy to celebrate, when good sales figures drive company profitability. After all, it's all we've ever known and we've never had to see the world any differently. But now we do.

Our first objective was to reduce the energy footprint of what we make and sell. The second objective is to find ways to reduce the need for more raw material by employing 'cradle-to- cradle' design philosophies and supporting the circular economy. Our third objective needs to embrace a new paradigm: that what we take from the earth needs to remain our responsibility throughout the product's life and beyond.

In this way, raw material in the form of a component can become a leasable commodity, to be used again and again. It will require coordination between the manufacturers of LED chips, LED modules and luminaires; but, then again, we've been here before. The 60W GLS lamp didn't change its size in almost a century, so why should LED metrics be different?

We are seeing the first initiatives in this direction in the form of Philips' Pay per Lux model. Inevitably, this is a strategy currently available only to those mega-companies with plenty of money to hand; the radical shift that needs to accompany this way of working (and remember, that this isn't just about lighting) is to create a whole new way of making money work positively for the environment.

Objective 3: Soon international governments will need to understand that the private capital system is no longer fit for the purpose. Access to finance (in its broadest meaning) needs to be made available in a wholly new way, to enable companies to develop, manufacture and distribute products that have been created in a sustainable framework. It requires understanding that shareholder short-termism cannot support a post-industrial model that requires a far longer strategic world view of the husbanding of natural resources.

Either that or we need to find a neighbouring planet or parallel dimension to rape and pillage in the same way that we've done to our own backyard.

Examples of Philips' Pay-per-Lux approach
The idea of a 'performance economy', developed by Walter Stahel since the Seventies, emphasises the importance of selling services rather than products. The idea is that manufacturers can retain greater control over the items they produce and the embodied energy and materials that, in turn, enable better maintenance, reconditioning and recovery. The theory is that customers also benefit, as they only pay for the service they need and use, and get a better service as the manufacturer has a greater interest in providing a product that lasts.

When architect Thomas Rau came to fit out the Amsterdam office of RAU Architects, he wanted to use the principles of a performance model throughout the space. When considering lighting, Rau did not want to purchase an expensive lighting infrastructure that he would eventually need to replace and dispose of, but rather light as a service, and just the right amount to suit the building.

He says: 'I told Philips, "I need so many hours of light in my premises every year. If you think you need a lamp, or electricity, or whatever - that's fine. But I want nothing to do with it. I'm not interested in the product, just the performance. I want to buy light, and nothing else." Philips created a minimalist light plan that made as much use as possible of the building's natural sunlight, again to avoid providing a surplus of material of energy.

High Technology Lighting’s Quartet downlight: fittings need to be designed to be broken down into individual component parts for effective recycling.
High Technology Lighting's Quartet downlight: fittings need to be designed to be broken down into individual component parts for effective recycling

The company used an LED light fitting for ceiling systems, adapted to be hung in the high-roofed offices. A combined sensor and controller system, responding to both motion and daylight, helped keep energy use to a minimum.

Instead of a one-time sale, the arrangement is Pay-per-Lux, in which Philips maintains ownership of the materials. Rau Architects benefits from maintenance and service, and the option to adapt or upgrade the installation, with Philips able to recover the materials when necessary.

Having seen the potential of a performance offering, Philips went on to further develop the business underpinnings for this model, drawing up contracts that systemise the concept.

One of the most recent is the lighting upgrade at Schiphol Airport. Philips and energy services Cofely are jointly responsible for the performance and durability of the system, and ultimately its reuse and recycling at its end of life.

Lighting fixtures that will last 75 per cent longer than other conventional fixtures were specially developed by Philips Design in association with architect Kossmann.dejong as part of an extensive renovation. Fixture components can be individually replaced, reducing maintenance costs, meaning that the entire fixture does not have to be recycled, resulting in a greater reduction in raw material consumption.

'It is Schiphol's ambition to become one of the most sustainable airports in the world,' said Jos Nijhuis, CEO and president of the airport's Schiphol Group. 'The collaboration with Philips and Cofely marks a good step in this direction. Together we left the beaten path to develop an innovative, out-of-the-box solution.'


Building a new future / Schools for the community


Words by Veronica Simpson

Cities all over the world are under ever greater pressure from rural to urban migration. Inevitably, as existing neighbourhoods densify, it places increasing strain on school provision.

London has seen more pressure on school places than most, with immigration adding to the educational population crunch already being caused by the UK capital's parents increasingly opting to stay in the city once their kids are of school age, rather than flee to the greener suburbs and satellite towns around them, which used to be the norm.

At a New London Architecture (NLA) conference four years ago, the assembled planners, local authority personnel and architects, were informed that London would be facing a shortfall of between 70,000 and 100,000 school places over the following four years. And yet, under the recent Coalition Government's austerity measures, next to no money was going to be forthcoming to provide accommodation for these extra pupils.

Four years down the line, how have these architects and educators responded? In the absence of public funds, greater resourcefulness in the location, expansion and refurbishment of schools and their facilities was called for and the response has become increasingly ingenious.

While some attendees at the NLA event felt the solution lay in cheaper, more formulaic school buildings that could be assembled as a 'kit of parts', with minor adjustments to suit different school populations, others have campaigned hard for schools to have their own character and civic presence, adding to the community both through their facilities and appearance. Locating schools on top of, underneath or around housing, sports facilities, religious buildings, libraries and community halls has opened up new avenues of funding, with local authority, community and developer budgets being juggled to try and achieve a win-win scenario for both school and the wider neighbourhood.

Faerder technical High school
Faerder technical High School

When done well, it weaves the surrounding population into the school's fabric works incredibly successfully, and vice versa. Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects (PTEa) has already demonstrated its skill in achieving the ultimate space-saving solution of versatile and good-quality school buildings intersecting with both civic and residential facilities, with the Tidemills Academy in London's Lewisham. Here it managed to create a compact but efficient primary school space that connects to and shares a local library and education centre; the school's sports, music and entertainment facilities are, in turn, shared with the community out of school hours. Additional funds for the scheme were raised by adding low-rise affordable housing and artist studios along one side of the school. Now, for Camden, PTEa has taken this idea further, with the development of an entirely self-funding school building in central London just a stone's throw from Euston Station.

This was an unusual model, says PTEa partner Dominique Oliver. 'Camden took a view that it would fund Netley School up front, which is quite interesting because a lot of local authorities are not in the position to do that. It was able to invest money into the scheme through its Community Investment Programme because it expected to get a capital return on it.'

Camden's Community Investment Programme has found money for schools, homes and community facilities by selling off or redeveloping sites or properties that had passed their usefulness. Another CIP scheme is being developed for Camden by Maccreanor Lavington (see case study) along a former railway sidings, but this time creating a whole new piece of West Hampstead for families to live, work, learn and play in.

Lee Centre, Bath
Lee Centre, Bath

Westminster City Council also commissioned PTEa to come up with a mixed housing and educational scheme, but with a different model - this time in conjunction with a developer and ARK Academy. The four-storey school building forms three sides of a courtyard, with a nursery to the west and a raised school hall at first-floor level, which creates a covered entrance to the playground in the courtyard. The residential block looks away from the school and on to Camden's canal.

Housing next to schools is something to be designed carefully. It's not an option that every education provider feels comfortable exploring - there are issues of child safety and sightlines that might unnerve both education clients and the wider community. Says Oliver: 'Outside of London, it's a more difficult model to make work. Where you have more space, the arguments for putting homes above schools are less tangible. It works for urban centres where space is at a premium. It works for London.

There's not much land available so you have to make the best use of it. I am seeing this model increasingly in other councils and boroughs, but it takes ambition from a local authority to drive it.' PTEa is currently working with Tower Hamlets and a developer plans to put a school on a new residential site, with a mosque as well.

Maccreanor Lavington is another practice that specialises in this kind of joined-up thinking. Realising that there was no more local authority money available for building new schools (it's a surprisingly little broadcast fact that under the current UK government, only free schools and academies can now get funding for buildings) the practice decided to bring a little community savvy into its extensive experience in masterplanning for new housing developments. So it has been working with Camden and other authorities to expand existing schools - a practice not outlawed by government policy, as long the authority can find the funds itself. Cash for the education component is often found through the sale of private housing within the complex - but not always (of which, more later).

Lee Centre, Bath
Lee Centre, Bath

Maccreanor Lavington's director of social infrastructure, Ann Griffin, says: 'I had my own practice until two years ago, focusing on social infrastructure projects. We decided to explore what could be a really exciting opportunity to look at what is a sustainable community.'

With Maccreanor Lavington's extensive experience in masterplanning and housing, plus Griffin's understanding of social infrastructure, it was in the perfect position to consider 'the wider impact of how all the social infrastructure can be factored in at the early stages so you don't make the wrong moves early on or you make the right moves possible. It's about being more aware of where the funding is coming from, where the pressures are coming from and how local authorities can find ways to respond to the current climate,' she says.

Kingsgate Primary School is one of three schemes of this type being developed by Camden, the other two being the aforementioned Netley Primary Campus (see case study) and a new £40m development at Somers Town, being masterplanned by DSDHA. While this may sound like a great solution, there are drawbacks, says Griffin: for one, 'You can only expand an existing school substantially with an outstanding management team to see the school through that expansion.'

Another is the need to tread a careful line between disposing of a council's assets and providing for its community.

Lee Centre, Bath
Lee Centre, Bath

Maccreanor Lavington has found another approach in Southwark, where raising cash from property construction is not possible. Two Victorian schools, with halls on every level too small for the school's expanding population, have been encouraged to use part of the school's land to build one large hall big enough for the whole school to use as an event space, for sports and dining - with a dedicated kitchen - and turn the smaller halls into classrooms with simple partitions. A cost- and space-conscious solution, 'most critically it supports the construction process on an occupied site,' says Griffin.

Where budget-juggling and cross-fertilisation of space and objectives isn't possible, sometimes new school buildings can be justified on the sheer quality of the design, as is the case with Feilden Fowles' Lee Centre, attached to Bath's Ralph Allen School. Since completion in 2014, the building has been festooned with awards and accolades. But before construction could even start there were major planning hurdles to overcome: the site was deemed to be sitting within the green belt surrounding a world heritage site; the proposal was to build on a sports field in an area of outstanding natural beauty. But planning permission was won due to the innovative environmental design and by setting the building into the limestone hillside.

It went on to be a National RIBA Award Winner in 2014, and qualified for the Stirling Prize long list as well as being named as one of the best 50 buildings in Britain in 2014. With a little creativity, ambition and joined-up thinking, it seems anything is possible.


Going to work is the new working from home


Words by Richard Beastall,

Principal Director at TP Bennett

The role of the workspace has changed over the past couple of decades, falling in and out of favour with employees; buildings became 'brand' status symbols for some, while for others home-working had far more appeal.

These transformations have been inspired in part by generational changes, improvements in employment rights and conditions, and the impact of technological development.

Flexibility made possible by more powerful and more portable computing gave rise to the concept of hot-desking while high-speed internet, affordable technology and the formation of cloud computing made homeworking practical and attractive to executives and their employees.

For Markit, the provider of financial information services, in the City of London.
For Markit, the provider of financial information services, in the City of London. Photo:Markit

But today's office is experiencing a rebirth, undergoing its greatest transformation to date. Increasingly, commercial clients ask me how they can meet the new demands of a workforce who want a 'place from home' to work, a space that is comfortable yet inspirational and flexible, that can accommodate the plethora of personal working practices and offer space that is collaborative yet provides the tranquility needed for thinking time.

As technology and a more communicative generation distort the barriers between work and play, some commercial offices are at a loss as to how to create a workplace to keep up with the fluctuating global trends and a more independent yet collaborative workforce.

It is important to remember that people are social creatures and crave interaction. We learn from working with others; stimulating environments inspire ideas and, irrespective of how advanced cloud-hosted collaboration tools are, we know that face-to-face interaction is the truest form of communication. In addition, employee well-being is now recognised as not only vital to attract and retain talent, but also as an enormously influential factor in profitability.

Office design is now welcome in the boardroom as part of a company's commercial strategy.

For Guardian News and Media, King’s Cross, London
For Guardian News and Media, King's Cross, London. Photo: The Guardian News and Media

With strategically designed environments embodying ethos and brand we're seeing companies undertaking large-scale redesigns to attract the best talent. Employers are asking for social spaces and amenities to strengthen working relationships and boost morale, specifying soft furnishings and textures that create a high-end leisure feel. All these factors are coming together to make going to work the new working from home.

Yet even as business spends millions on refurbishments, many are still not getting it quite right. Knee-jerk action to reduce desks, introduce hot-desking and carve out collaboration spaces is regarded as a successful implementation of current trends while reducing costs. But with little thought these spaces often aren't well planned and the result is noisy, disruptive and distracting areas that damage productivity and morale. The collaborative office is becoming the office that people need to escape from to do 'real' work.

Today's work-time has been split into two parts - desk and collaborative - and I believe this is where people are making mistakes. I don't believe desks should be totally removed, but I do believe they should be reduced and the space generated developed into areas for specific activities. The work environment is far more than these two simplistic elements and 'the desk' is not the place where people should be doing quiet work and really concentrated thinking.

There are too many phone calls, too many interruptions. Why else do you think most people would rather draft an article at home than at work?

Instead, we should be talking about activity-based workspaces. A business needs a variety of differing spaces for team catch-ups, large meetings, client meetings, day-to-day e-mailing and phoning, video and teleconferencing, training, quiet contemplation and concentration... And, if space is at a premium, then creativity needs to be combined with the ability to maximise space value to deliver imaginative, flexible areas that successfully adapt to specific needs and work effectively. It's no use having video conferencing where it can distract visually and intrudes aurally. Focus too much on creating a 'buzzy' atmosphere and, while the office extroverts may be in their element, the introverts end up inhibited and interrupted. It's no use putting the social breakout space next door to the quiet zone.

For multinational professional services network PwC, One Embankment Place, Charing Cross, London
For multinational professional services network PwC, One Embankment Place, Charing Cross, London. Photo: PWC One Embankment Place

I've seen numerous offices with row after row of desks and then a clutch of alternative furniture dropped in haphazardly as a so-called collaboration space. They're often empty or underused, and, when in use, disturbing the people around them. Effective, successful workspaces require intricate planning. Engaging, stimulating and practical collaboration spaces are vital, but just as vital are thoughtfully conceived quiet spaces with no phones. A traditional, quiet library-feel offers a place to escape to and is reminiscent of study. It's about creating the right state of mind as well as a practical space.

A workspace is simply a hierarchy of spaces, and the obsession with the desk and furniture needs to be relegated as they are tools of enablement rather than the building blocks of the office. A hierarchy of spaces starts with circulation and natural desire lines - the routes from entrances to lifts and stairs to WCs and kitchenettes.

Circulation routes, both horizontally and vertically, should define the location of social spaces, collaboration zones and generally noisier areas. These are places where chance meetings lubricate the grey matter as well as the social and corporate cogs, where barriers are broken down and interaction has freer rein. Moving away from these interactive zones, you can define and design semi-quiet day-to-day space and super-quiet concentration areas.

In this way, and only with the full buy-in of management effecting a cultural change, will you create the diversity of workspace and community of workplace needed to attract, retain, motivate and support workers of all ages and personalities of all types and deliver a truly well-balanced office environment.


Kristjana S Williams Competition Terms and Conditions

We're giving away Kristjana S Williams's latest Svart Lundunar Kort map of London print, worth £250, thanks to Outline Editions (see them at Designjunction, Victoria House, V19).

Simply follow us on Twitter and re-tweet the article using @DesignCurial and we'll enter you into the draw.

For more information, read the competition Terms and Conditions below.

1.The prize draw is open to all UK residents aged 18 years or over, except employees of the Promoter, their families, agents or any third party directly associated with administration of the prize draw.
2. The prize draw is free to enter and no purchase is necessary unless specified.
3. All entries must be submitted via Twitter using @DesignCurial in the form of a re-tweet only. Entrants must also follow DesignCurial on Twitter to be eligible.
4. The opening date for entries is 9am on 23/09/2015. The closing date of the prize draw is 12am on 01/10/2015. Entries received after this time will not be accepted.
5. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for entries not successfully completed due to a technical fault [technical malfunction, computer hardware or software failure, satellite, network or server failure] of any kind.
6. A winner will be chosen by random draw supervised by an independent person on 02/10/2015.
7. The winner will receive a Kristjana S Williams Svart Lundunar Kort map of London print worth £250.
8. The winner will be notified via Twitter using a Tweet OR a direct message before 07/10/2015 and must provide a postal address to claim their prize. The winner may be asked to provide an email address for correspondence related to receiving their prize. If a winner does not respond to the Promoter within SEVEN days of being notified by the Promoter, then the winner's prize will be forfeited and the Promoter will be entitled to select another winner in accordance with the process described above.
9. The prize will be sent to the winner by post within SEVEN days of being notified of their win.
10. The prize for the winner is non-exchangeable, non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
11. The decision of the Promoter regarding any aspect of the prize draw is final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into about it.
12. The winner's name and county can be obtained by sending an email to within SEVEN days after the closing date of the prize draw.
13. Participants are deemed to have accepted and agreed to be bound by these terms and conditions upon entry. The Promoter reserves the right to refuse entry, or refuse to award the prize to anyone in breach of these terms and conditions.
14. The Promoter reserves the right to hold void, cancel, suspend, or amend the promotion where it becomes necessary to do so.
15. Winners may be required to participate in publicity related to the prize draw which may include the publication of their name and photograph in any media.
16. Personal data supplied during the course of this promotion may be passed on to third party suppliers only insofar as required for fulfilment/delivery/arrangement of the prize.
17. The prize draw will be governed by English law and entrants to the prize draw submit to the jurisdiction of the English courts.
18. The Promoter of this prize draw is DesignCurial a trading name of World Market Intelligence Ltd of John Carpenter House, 7 Carmelite Street, London EC4Y 0BS


London Design Festival Preview


Now hitting its half-decade, designjunction has a new main home in the old Central Saint Martins building on Southampton Row. More than 180 brands will be on display in this great old building, which was originally The Central School of Arts and Crafts, set up in 1896 under the auspices of its first principal William R Lethaby. Across the way in Victoria House, where designjunction opened its doors for the very first time, a further 35 design-led pop-up shops will be gathered.

Brands and designers on show at designjunction will include Wrong for Hay, Fritz Hansen, Benjamin Hubert, Modus, Proof, Hermann Miller, Vitra, Artimede and Bisley. Over in Victoria House, you'll find the likes of Heal's, Melin Tregwynt, and Outline Editions.

Transport for London will be making a big splash at the event with a life-size, pop-up Underground station made out of... wood. This has been designed by Camilla Barnard and will sit next to the TfL Cafe, where Blueprint will be hosting the RIBA Architects' Breakfast early morning view. There'll also be a full seminar programme arranged around the theme 'Design for a Reason'.

A visualisation of the lifesize, wooden Tube station. Photo: Courtesy London Design Festival
A visualisation of the lifesize, wooden Tube station. Photo: Courtesy London Design Festival

Design education... WTF?
Continuing with the central theme of this issue of Blueprint, we will be involved with what promises to be a lively debate on the future of industrial design education and how it can stay - or become, depending on your point of view - relevant. Organised by Central Saint Martins' Matt Malpass and Nick Rhodes DE... WTF? is split into three parts starting with the discussion on 17 September. Themes from the discussion will be explored in an onsite design studio on the 19th (Saturday) that will develop them into 'visions of a future', which will be presented the following day.

Designjunction Architects' Breakfast
In partnership with RIBA, BIID, BCFA 24 September, 9am-11am

Blueprint will be a host at Transport For London café at designjunction for the Architects' Breakfast event (RIBA members only). Come and join us if you fancy a break from tramping around the show. For tickets to the event go to ribalondon.


Curated Diary by David Adjaye


1 World Architecture Festival
Singapore 4 - 6 November

Urban architecture is at a crisis point; with unprecedented urban growth across the world, architecture's use of density and volume must be equally intentional and experimental, willing to test new typologies that can prepare the city for this population explosion.

World Architecture Festival
World Architecture Festival. Photo: Hiroshi Nakamura and nap

Appropriately hosted in Singapore, given its leadership in sustainable and intelligent planning, this year's WAF features a series of thoughtful lectures that will explore visions of the future through verticality, big data-led planning and climate responsiveness.

2 Africa: Architecture, Culture and identity Louisiana Museum of Modern art, Humlebæk, Denmark
Until 25 October

Our ideas about a civilised world are manifested through our architecture, with embedded ideas about identity and access and bound by the geography of place, but the global design community is only beginning to acknowledge Africa's contribution.

Africa: Architecture, Culture and Identity Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark
Courtesy Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

This exhibition sheds light on its diversity and complexity, and works to dismantle the stereotypes obscuring a nuanced view of modernity on the continent and the future possibilities.

3 Chris Ofili: Night and Day Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, USA
Until November 1

Chris Ofili's touring exhibition is a long overdue return to the American art scene for an artist whose work is equally breathtaking and controversial. With works such as no Woman no Cry and the Virgin Madonna, Ofili has positioned himself as an artist capable of redefining art practice and reaffirming the relevance of painting for the 21st century.

Chris Ofili: Night and Day Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, USA
Moonbeams Courtesy The Artist, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner New York/London

He questions our time through intoxicating visual compositions that examine peripheral modernities and enable us to make sense of our world.

4 Endless house: Intersections of Art and Architecture
MOMA, New York, US
Until 6 March architecture should never be discrete from art - it has much to learn from art's capacity to unearth and shift frameworks with immediacy. Working across creative platforms is an essential tool for innovation in the act of making.

Endless House
Haus-Rucker-Co. Stück Natur (Piece of Nature). 1973. © 2015 Haus-Rucker-Co

Houses offer an excellent platform for this kind of collaboration; the endless House exhibition highlights the way the family home, when embracing opportunities for the joining of art and architecture, has been the site of crucial examinations of the meaning of the contemporary.

5 Fata Morgana
Mad. Sq. art, New York, USA
Until 10 January
An artist with a profound understanding of the specificities of place, Teresita Fernández's installation exploits the active and architectural qualities of light to create a 3d urban square. referencing the phenomenon of a superior hovering mirage, perforated metal forms hang above the visitors and create a series of cinematic dissolves.

Fata Morgana
Courtesy the artist, Lehmann Maupin and Anthony Meier Fine Arts. Photo by Yasunori Matsu/Madison Square Park Conservancy © Teresita Fernández

The active flickering works as a mirror for the ritualistic character of movement through the city and trace connections between the mundane and the celestial.

6 All the World's Futures
Giardini della Biennale, Venice, Italy
Until 22 November Okwui enwezor's curatorial vision for this year's event exploits contradiction to examine how the ruptures of the present have effected a reappraisal of our relationship to art. In response, my temporary museum offers multiple conditions for experiencing art, drawing visitors through the exhibition with distinct immersive experiences.

All the World’s Futures
Photo by Alessandra Chemollo Courtesy. La Biennale Di Venezia

The centrepiece is arena - an active space dedicated to continuous live programming across disciplines that circulate around Enwezor's central demand for dialogue and a questioning of the existing order.


BALTIC Ryder Commission in collaboration with Blueprint

Following a four-month selection process, an architect and artist have been chosen for the £40,000 BALTIC Ryder Commission in collaboration with Blueprint.

An open call for architects went out in Blueprint at the end of last year. Ryder Architecture, ourselves and the gallery were looking for a young practice eager to collaborate on an installation at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.

Atomik Architecture from London, was chosen from a strong global response following interviews with a shortlist of three. Artist Alice Theobald, also London-based, was subsequently chosen to collaborate with Atomik after the practice went to Gateshead to talk to BALTIC curators.

Atomik Architecture and Theobald will each receive £2,500 prize money, put up by Ibstock, while all of the £40,000 from Ryder and BALTIC will go towards the installation, that will open at the gallery on 11 December and run through until 13 March. Blueprint will, of course, be following their progress and bring you a full report on how the collaboration unfolds and what the final outcome is.

Founded by Mike Oades and Derek Draper, Atomik Architecture is a young practice of architects and designers working in the UK and Kazakhstan. The practice has a number of buildings, from residential to hotel, in the pipeline and its first completed building will be a pavilion and hub for this year's Artbat Fest urban art and culture festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Atomik Architecture also created a parametric art installation, on an island in a lake in Amiens, using 2,000 timber blocks, as part of the 2014 Art Villes & Paysage Festival.

'We suspect that we are totally unaware of what we have let ourselves in for!' says Atomik Architecture's Oades. 'Alice's work is multifaceted involving music, video and performance - very different to our largely static constructs. We're looking forward to the odyssey we are about to embark on, finding some common ground and testing how our processes come together to deliver a co-authored piece at BALTIC.'

Theobald, who graduated from the RA last year, employs a mix of pop and underground cultural references in her work that uses music, installation and video. She also often works with a cast of non-professional actors and performers, while using repetition 'as a strategy to interrogate the unstable relationship between art, communication and representation'. In February 2014 she presented: I've said yes now, that's it, at the Chisenhale Gallery's interim programme, and in 2013 she was selected for the International Performance Residency at Gasworks, London.

'I am really looking forward to working with Atomik to see how it will develop,' says Theobald.

'My performances, video and sound installations are very reactive to pre-existing spaces and places, so collaborating this way where the space can potentially be manipulated psychically feels like an interesting new challenge, yet a natural way forward.'

Peter Buchan, senior partner at Ryder Architecture, adds: 'We are delighted to have selected these two emerging talents for our jointly funded commission with BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art.

We look forward to the process of co-authorship - a real sharing of ideas that creates something truly exciting.' You can see Theobald's work at London's Lisson Gallery, in The Boys The Girls The Political, 18 July to 6 September.


Client File: Patrick Bedeau, Global art director of Al Jazeera


Words by Pamela Buxton

What does your role at Al Jazeera entail?
As global art director I'm responsible for all design and promotions-related content and issues in London, New York, Sarajevo, Washington DC and in our smaller studios in Paris, Berlin and Moscow.

I also work with the creative director in our Doha hub. My brief covers all on-screen design including the daily news information graphics content and as well as programme branding, music and set design. Workplace environment has recently taken up a great deal of my time due to the fast-paced expansion of Al Jazeera Media Network in recent years. Talent spotting and creative recruitment is a fundamental part of my role.

What's your design background?
I studied visual communication specialising in advertising at Birmingham and briefly worked at JWT before joining BBC Current Affairs at Lime Grove Studios. There I experienced the old paper-and-cardboard methods of creating TV graphics and was able to contribute to the introduction of electronic and computerbased design workflows, which are now the norm. The technology revolution, which saw the move from bespoke equipment - for example Quantel Paintbox - to powerful desktop-based computers has also been fascinating, along with the advent of social media and citizen journalism in TV news.

Reintroducing the swingometer on the 1992 BBC election coverage with Peter Snow remains one of my best memories. I then set up my own company, working for Channel 4, MTV, the BBC and consulting on channel launches including the Money Channel and Al Jazeera English. For the past nine years I've worked with Al Jazeera, the past four as staff.

Patrick Bedeau
Patrick Bedeau

How many different design projects do you generally commission a year and what sort of work is this?
Television news is thirsty for creative content 24/7, so there is a vital need for design and promotional commissions daily. We have a large internal design and promotions team but we do also commission externally for long form projects. There's been a rapid expansion of the Al Jazeera Network, with the launch of Al Jazeera America and Al Jazeera Balkans, the opening of our Paris and Moscow studios and the relocation of the London and Washington DC broadcast centres. These projects have involved considerable design commissions and collaborations that has seen a solid, rolling programme of work for the past five years across all the design and production disciplines.

How do you go about commissioning designers and architects?
We have a very detailed commissioning process administered out of Doha by our procurement teams and steered by the senior creative teams. The design commission brief and invitation is signed off by the client base and procurement team.

What are the particular challenges for designing broadcast facilities?
We have to be reactive and very sensitive to new technology and new production workflow developments, so future-proofing our design and the selection of new technology is very difficult. There are few architect practices that really understand broadcast requirements and construction, so the client collaboration process is vital, along with a specialist broadcast project management team. Also, design education has changed fundamentally - especially with early specialisation - and it can be hard to find the right design collaborators for working on such multidisciplinary projects.

What were your ambitions for your new studios and HQ in The Shard and how did the design come about?
We built a temporary studio in Stratford in the three years running up to the Olympics and while we were travelling out to East London from Knightsbridge we could see The Shard taking shape. The process for relocating from Knightsbridge had begun and the board in Doha liked our idea of moving to The Shard.

We then spent some time establishing the right floor that would suit our needs and how we could use the views and natural light. We then looked at Renzo Piano's design and wrote an open brief. We consulted the RIBA, which recommended an initial list of eight practices.

We finally worked with three practices on the pitch/selection process. A parallel process was conducted with the set design and construction and also the technology contractors. The low 'office' ceilings of the Shard were a real challenge for the design concepts and technical practicalities, so we knew innovation had to play a key part in the thinking.

We kicked off the architectural fit-out and set-design process in parallel, appointing John McAslan & Partners and Veech x Veech respectively. The selection process, however, doesn't find you all the creative answers and the hard work really began afterwards. We demanded a very high level of client consultation right through the process, with a realistic 3D rendering process that plotted out all the areas, material usage, furniture and lighting.

The various construction and design teams worked very closely together to enable a seamless link between offices and technical facilities, including the studios.

Patrick Bedeau is anti Silicon Valley-type design, preferring a minimalist, Scandanavian aesthetic for the Al Jazeera HQ
Patrick Bedeau is anti Silicon Valley-type design, preferring a minimalist, Scandanavian aesthetic for the Al Jazeera HQ

Transparency was the core theme running through the project and we are happy with the result. Broadcasting was new to McAslan & Partners but it really came a long way and worked well with Veech x Veech and newsroom/set constructor MCI Studio Hamburg. We arranged the open-plan office spaces around the edge of the floor to maximise natural light and the technology facilities on the inner core, with the news studio integrated into the newsroom and oriented to the north to give the best views of London.

What's the best part of your job as design client?
The variety of creative people you meet. Al Jazeera has a hugely diverse global group of people, both in and out, all pushing in the same direction. No two days are the same. It's non-stop, and that's how I like it. I don't regard myself as a 'design client', more a collaborator.

What are the most challenging part of your job?
Change! Screen-based communications is a constantly evolving medium and TV news and current affairs is still at the sharp end. However, hand-held devices and social media will change everything we do.

What future design projects are in the pipeline?
We have Washington DC coming on stream soon and we're also redesigning our Doha studios and have projects in New York about to start. New programme commissions are constant and we have a number of promotions, branding and set-design projects rolling out at present.

Do you have any favourite workplaces that you take inspiration from in terms of design?
I'm rather anti those Silicon Valley type of office typified by Google. I like the Scandinavian ethos of simple, clean, functional environments rather than clutter. I want people, not the office design, to provide the individuality in the workplace. I quite like the unfinished - leaving enough scope for the space to change and grow as it is occupied. In terms of particular designers, I admire the work of Saul Bass, Carlo Mollino, Moholy Nagy and Alvar Aalto.


Head of design at TfL, Jon Hunter


Words by Pamela Buxton

What does your role at Transport for London entail? What types of spaces and projects are you involved in commissioning design for?
Everything from templates to the design of trains. The variety of projects undertaken is vast - ranging from branding for the new Cycle Quietways project through to the magnificent new trains for London Underground and Crossrail. No two days are the same - across my desk today are items as diverse as the development of maps for the newly announced Night Tube, samples of winter gloves for our frontline staff, signage proposals for Crossrail and various maquette designs for upcoming refurbishment projects.

How many different design projects do you generally commission a year, and what sort of work is this?
Generally, about 100 a year - with a mix of long-burn, medium-term and business-asusual projects across all design disciplines.

Jon Hunter
Jon Hunter

How do you go about commissioning designers and architects? Is there a roster system? If so, how many are on it and why is this useful?
I use various existing rosters for commissioning design and also engage with the design community on projects that require more specialist disciplines - for example uniform design.

What qualities do you look for?
Design vision, a deep understanding of what we are as an organisation and the ability to add value to a commission - challenging and pushing me where needed to ensure the best possible result is delivered.

The new train for Crossrail
The new train for Crossrail

You have an in-house design team - what sort of work does this do?
We have three in-house teams - dealing with corporate/graphic design; industrial/product design; and film production/photographic services. These are essentially design professionals working as a collective to deliver the best design solutions possible to the people of London and users of our transport network.

What are the priorities for achieving a well-designed transport environment?
To quote Frank Pick, the former London Transport chief executive, the pursuit of an environment that is 'fit for purpose for all uses and by all users' is still our mantra. A fundamental priority is the re-establishment of form being as important as function, and the need to look at design proposals through the eyes of our end-users.

What particular challenges are there to overcome?
The ever-present tension between form, function and affordability - our transport environments are incredibly hard working, and obtaining high-quality design in these environments is achievable - but requires a great deal of work with internal and external stakeholders to get the balance right.

The transport industry is governed by some very rigorous safety standards - but these should be viewed as part of the design challenge.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Pragmatism, and getting the balance right between stakeholders who can often have competing requirements for the same product, or design solution.

Priestman Goode’s trains for the New Tube for London initiative
Priestman Goode's trains for the New Tube for London initiative

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Being part of an amazing organisation that keeps the capital moving and growing constantly.

What recent projects do you feel have turned out particularly successfully?
New Tube for London. This project was started back in 2009 as a design response to the increasing sterility of transport environments as a whole, with the ambition of creating a vehicle that balances form, function and price perfectly, and with the customer at the heart. The desire is to create a vehicle that a customer would choose to travel in, providing the same quality of design that we experience in our own homes or cars.

Thomas Heatherwick has delivered the same with the new Routemaster, and it is only right we deliver the same level of customer experience across our other vehicles. TfL has been working on this with Priestman Goode - a formal invitation to tender is expected to be issued later this year and a contract to build the new trains to be awarded in 2016. The first train is expected to come into service on the Piccadilly line in 2022.

What future design projects are in the pipelin? Who will be designing them?
Crossrail - lots of work is going on for this monumental project. The design for the rolling stock is being finalised at the moment in collaboration with BarberOsgerby. This project uses the same design strategy as applied to the New Tube for London, and delivers a real step-change in customer experience for national rail services.

Wayne Hemingway and his team are creating a singular uniform design for all of our operational modes, with subtle branding variations as required - but the main aim being to provide our singular customer with a consistency of experience no matter what part of our network they are using.

A new uniform design is being designed for TfL staff by Wayne Hemingway
A new uniform design is being designed for TfL staff by Wayne Hemingway

Do you have any favourite public transport systems (other than your own, of course) that you take inspiration from in terms of design?
London has the best transport network in the world - but I do admire Stockholm for its bold approach to integrating the environment in which its Underground resides with public art, and the Moscow metro for its sheer beauty.


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Architect Mahmood Fallahian

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