Designersblock curated seven of Selfridges’ shop windows, on Duke Street, which ran from 5th September to 22nd October 2008. Selfridges flagship store is one of London's most famous stores.
The installation gives the effect of a kaleidoscope using multifaceted mirrors. A light box at the back is covered by a film, which changes colour as people on the street walk by the window. The effect gives a fascinating, multi-coloured kaleidoscopic display.
DESIGN CONCEPT / INSPIRATION
We wanted to create a display that made use of visually beautiful, geometric patterns. Because of it’s use of mirrors, a Kaleidoscope has a natural geometry. Colours are strong, because the light comes through the tiny coloured objects from the back. This was the inspiration and we looked to create this kaleidoscopic effect across the full window.
The display, which forms part of a seven-window collection commissioned by Selfridges and Designersblock, was installed to coincide with The London Design Festival, London Fashion Week and Frieze Art Fair.
PRODUCTION METHOD / PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT
To work out the design of the geometry, we first looked at the graphic work of M. C. Escher. An early design was based around the geometry of his 'Circle Limit IV' illustration. This design is complex and as the pattern reaches the edge, the detail becomes very small.
We had originally intended the pattern to be made up of fragments of the viewer’s reflection, however we were amazed by the visual potential 'light film’ offered and we changed our direction in favor of the powerful and varied colours it produces. The effect of the film on the light box, with our kaleidoscope prototypes on top, was beautiful.
CHALLENGES / PROBLEMS FACED WHEN CREATING THE DESIGN
A real kaleidoscope uses a tiny pattern to create the impression of a larger one. This is achieved by the use of the mirrors and also the viewing part is held right up to the eye. Our challenge was to create this effect over a large window of several meters, rather than a few millimeters. A cluster of large, tapered kaleidoscopes gave this effect.
To imitate the geometry of 'Circle Limit IV', we would have needed to build many more ‘tubes’ and also there would have been many different sizes of tube. This would have been very inefficient to produce. By making each of the triangular tubes taper, the shape of the cluster naturally forms a sphere, so perspective gives something of the impression of the reduction of size towards the edge. This presents a further problem: although the triangles appear to be identical, to make up a sphere, they actually need to be of several different sizes. This shape produced by the cluster of triangles is part of a Geodesic dome, which uses principles popularized by the architect, Buckminster Fuller.
We were delighted with the outcome and are very grateful to Designersblock and Selfridges for the opportunity and support.