Pick of the Week: Sheer Audacity

By Regina Connell.

We’ve always been fans of the UK design team Barber Osgerby, but this certainly took the cake.

For the 2014 London Design Festival, the duo created two huge reflective panels positioned end to end, suspended beneath the vaulted ceiling of the Raphael gallery inside the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Barber Osgerby at the V&A during London Design Festival 2014

Barber Osgerby at the V&A during London Design Festival 2014

First of all, we love the sheer creative genius of the pairing of such a modern design and notion with high Renaissance art. The Raphael Cartoons in the gallery are mirrored and distorted in the panels as they rotate above visitors, who can also spot themselves in the shiny surfaces. For Barber Osgersby, which usually works at human scale, this was an incredibly audacious endeavor.

Inside Double Space

Inside Double Space

Next, we’re awed by the engineering and design of it all. The installation consists of two large reflectors, each composed of one flat wall of mirror and one curved surface, hovering over the 600-square-meter space in the gallery. The two shimmering volumes (measuring 15 x 10 meters each) revolve on their own axis, either simultaneously or alternatively. Engineered by Arup, the installation was brought into the room in pieces, assembled and winched into place, then covered with the panels.

The Team Behind Double Space for BMW – 8/9 London Design Festival at the V&A 2014 from BarberOsgerby on Vimeo.

Finally, we love the daringness of the V&A for doing this. It distorts the art: not what most museums do, but then, that’s always been the genius and flair of the V&A. The installation also brings the museum visitor into the experience, and makes them an integral part of the art. Art comes to life. Life comes to art.

Audacity: there’s not nearly enough of it around, and we love it when we see it.


Images via Dezeen and Barber Osgerby.

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