London Design Festival: 7 Designers Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London, until October 5 2012
As the tenth annual design festival gets underway, London has been overwhelmed with exhibitions showcasing the best of creative and technical ingenuity.
Having packed out museums, galleries, pop-up venues, stalls and studios, the festival offerings have now spilled on to the streets of Covent Garden, bringing design to new and unexpected audiences.
Seven artists were commissioned to create exhibits to be suspended above street level in the trendy shopping village of Seven Dials, and the works each reflect the history of the local area.
“We chose this village as the backdrop because not only does it have a truly inspirational history but it also is one of London’s true hidden gems,” says Dezeen magazine's Marcus Fairs, one of the project organisers.
The Birds of Seven Dials, Dominic Wilcox
Wilcox’s piece references Dickens’ description of Seven Dials as a place "where many bird shops and bird cage makers could be found".
The installation features 20 birdcages of different sizes, shapes and designs hanging in an arch, each left open to symbolise the memory of the bird shops and birds long departed from the street.
Catchpenny Quackery, aberrant architecture
Eighteenth century Seven Dials resident James Catnach was the first producer of London's penny pamphlets and song sheets, but no-one else would touch his hard earned coppers in case of infection springing off the metal.
He came up with the idea of boiling the coins in potash and vinegar so that they became bright once more.
Drawing on this true story, Catchpenny Quackery consists of 18 large metal pennies hanging individually within a larger frame.
Each metallic coin features a unique symbol to advertise the "quack" products and services that used to be offered in Seven Dials.
Dial, Paul Cocksedge
Cocksedge’s interactive installation aims to create a sense of intrigue by suspending a large floating telephone number between two buildings.
Those curious enough to ring it will be answered by a celebrity voice that will guide them on a visual and aural mini-adventure through the area, with proceeds from the call going to Barnardo’s.
Gitta Gschwendtner, Arial Escape
By the early 18th century each of the seven apexes facing the Dial Monument housed a pub, and their cellars and vaults connected underground to provide handy escape routes for the area's shadier residents.
These tunnels provided the inspiration for Gschwendtner’s surrealistic construction, using seven ladders to link two windows on Earlham Street and create an escape route across the road and beyond.
7 x 7, Faye Toogood
Also hanging above the heads of passers-by, is Faye Toogood’s series of 49 outsized workers’ overcoats, each hand-painted and treated with resin.
Representing the trades within Seven Dials which have shaped the area since 1740, the coats reference the brewer, the wig maker, the puppeteer, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker.
When Thomas Neale first designed the Seven Dials layout, the original names of each of the streets leading to the monument were different to what they are today.
Vic Lee's range of flags feature the historic addresses, which he has displayed so as to meet in the centre point, much like the Seven Dials monument and the streets surrounding them.
The flags have also been inspired by the different types of characters that have lived in the area with inscriptions such as “ragamuffins and herberts”.
Malouin’s giant installation of bunting, made from transparent PVC, was designed to celebrate and highlight the Seven Dials area and its landmarks.
Uniting to form a ceiling, the sixty bunting lines lead the way to the Seven Dials monument, via some of the area's historic houses and buildings.