London Design Festival 2016: architecture firms have created installations along one of London’s most famous shopping streets for the Royal Institute of British Architects‘ annual Regent Street Windows project (+movie).
This year’s RIBA Regent Street Windows, which runs until 25 September 2015, pairs architects with retailers on London’s Regent Street to create a series of bespoke window installations.
“For architects, to work in a very high profile and public location is fantastic,” explains RIBA Regent Street Windows project manager Meneesha Kellay in the movie, which Dezeen produced for RIBA.
“For retailers, working with the architects to broaden the limits of their display is a great chance to push their usual boundaries.”
The project features 10 installations this year.
“We have three enormous chandeliers made from Molton Brown plastic bottles, hung on Molton Brown ribbon,” explains Knox Bhavan Architects partner Sasha Bhavan.
“A lot of Susie [MacMurray]’s work is about repeating elements. You put them together and come out with something which is really quite amazing.”
Other architects also chose to create assemblages made up from multiple smaller elements.
Design Haus Liberty created chandeliers made from eight thousand crystal spheres for Kate Spade, inspired by the brand’s signature polka dot pattern.
For Kiehl’s, Piercy & Company and lighting company Electrolight collaborated to create an installation featuring ceramic reproductions of quinoa seed husks, the active ingredient in the skincare brand’s latest product.
Some firms chose to use movement in their installations, such as KSR Architects, which created a pair of floating jeans for the window of 7 For All Mankind.
Projects Office‘s window display for Uniqlo features a number of flapping pigeons, which are unravelling reels of wool.
“Uniqlo is an international brand, but we wanted to do something that is uniquely London-based for the project,” explains Projects Office founder Bethan Kay.
“We took the humble pigeon and made him the main protagonist in our display. They’re cheeky pigeons and they are unravelling this wool and creating nests for themselves.”
Other architects chose to draw on the heritage of the brand they worked with.
Bureau de Change replicated some of the pattern pieces from men’s tailor Charles Tyrwhitt in a range of British timbers.
Architectural Social Club‘s installation for Liberty, which spans all of the windows at the front of the store, tells a fantasy story about the founder of the iconic brand.
“The installation celebrates Arthur Lasenby Liberty, who was the founder of Liberty,” explains Satyajit Das of Architecture Social Club. “He was the one of the pioneers of bringing foreign arts into Britain.”
“In our project, we basically retell the story of Noah’s Ark in a tongue and cheek way. Arthur is the liberator of fashion and saves London from a very traumatic time where fashion had gone wrong.”
Matheson Whiteley created a much more simple but striking display for Armani Exchange by hanging a single piece of fabric in the window.
Aleska Studio’s window design is inspired by KIKO Milano’s make-up colours and features a series of translucent coloured ribs that change based on the viewing angle.
The RIBA also took part in the project for the first time, commissioning an installation for its new offices at 76 Portland Place by Critical Architecture Network and Nina Shen Poblete.
The installation features a number of ornately carved breeze blocks displayed behind white vinyl showing the windows of the original building on the site.
“We decided to block up our window openings with these exquisitely detailed breeze blocks,” explains Mat Barnes of Critical Architecture Network.
“We’ve got a keen interest in cheap, run-of-the-mill materials and how we can elevate these into ornamental and luxury architectural elements.”
Carl Turner, chair of RIBA’s London Council, took part in the project himself three years ago. He says it is a great opportunity for young architects to put themselves in front of the public.
“I know first hand how amazing this project can be, especially for younger practices,” he says.
“I really encourage everybody to take a stroll along London’s most historic streets and enjoy the creativity and the craft of some of London’s most amazing architects.”
RIBA Regent Street Windows Project launched on 5 September and will continue throughout London Design Festival until 25 September.
This movie was produced by Dezeen for the RIBA. The music in the movie is by Wave Crushers.
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