London-based Paul Cocksedge is the designer behind the London Design Festival’s Landmark Project for 2019. In 2004, he founded the Paul Cocksedge Studio with fellow Royal College of Art (RCA) alum Joana Pinho and since then his profile as one of the world’s leading designers and artists has led to him collaborating with the V&A, Sony, BMW and more.
This year he’ll be creating a dramatic and interactive giant piece in Broadgate’s Finsbury Avenue Square, we talked to him about the inspiration and creation of Please Be Seated… (Paul will also be joining us for a Q&A on Tuesday 17 September – book your free tickets here.)
What’s the concept for Please Be Seated and how did it come about?
I was approached by Broadgate, a neighbourhood co-owned by British Land, to create an installation which fuses innovation and technology. This is a result of their ongoing commitment to design patronage, particularly in the public realm and we love working on projects in London as our studio is based in Hackney, so it’s always a pleasure to work on something in the city.
What’s your inspiration for the project?
I was inspired by the brief and the area of Broadgate. I went to Finsbury Avenue Square where the installation will be located within the Broadgate campus and observed its occupants and visitors to ensure that my design will serve them practically as well as inspire them aesthetically.
Every aspect of the design is tailored to its environment as well as the function it serves. The curves raise up to create backrests and places to sit with space for people to walk under or pause and find some shade. It occupies the square without blocking it and in fact it enhances it.
“I hope that people will feel comfortable interacting with it, that they'll come and sit on the curves during their lunch break, that children will play hide and seek after school, or that people stand under the curves for some shade on a sunny day.”
Why did you want to work with scaffolding planks?
Everything I design must have a purpose and this installation is no exception. For me, it’s all about the relationship with materials. We are taking old building planks, gathered by high-end British interiors company White & White, who have been fascinated by the idea of recycling scaffolding planks for some time and repurposing them to create the piece. I hope people will be inspired by thinking about where the planks come from and how they have been used.
What will happen to the wood after the installation is over?
Everything I design must have a purpose and this installation is no exception. We want the material to come the full circle and be recycled by White & White after dismantle.
What tools and techniques have you used?
We often dream of the impossible and try to make it happen. We worked with structural engineers at ARUP (including Alice Blair who's worked on projects for the London Design Festival before and helped with the realisation of Rock On Top Of Another Rock – an art installation for the Serpentine Gallery) to bring the structure to life. Not only do they facilitate our ideas, they help to evolve them and that input is essential.
How does the installation work with the surroundings?
Every aspect of the installation is tailored to its environment as well as the function it serves. The curves go upwards to allow people to walk through them and the downward curves create backrests and places to sit.
How do you expect your audience will interact with this installation?
I hope that people will feel comfortable interacting with the structure, that they will come and sit on the curves during their lunch break, that children will play hide and seek after school, or that people stand under the curves for some shade on a sunny day. The more the installation plays a positive role in Broadgate’s public life, the more I will see it as a success!
What are you looking forward to seeing at this year’s LDF?
Apart from people’s reactions to Please Be Seated, I’m looking forward to seeing the programme of talks and events that happen around the festival. Young creatives who get inspired by what they see, people making connections with like-minded people. Adam Nathaniel Furman’s installation for Paddington Central will be interesting too.
Where to find Please Be Seated
Hard to miss, this impressive structure will be in Finsbury Avenue Square, EC2A 2EH, for the duration of London Design Festival (16-22 September) and beyond. Sat between Liverpool Street Station and Moorgate, Broadgate offers some of London’s best street food, bars and restaurants, plus a public art trail, so while you’re here, make sure you explore.
Broadgate and the London Design Festival
For the third year running, Broadgate is home to LDF’s landmark installation. Last year, Finsbury Avenue Square became an urban playground with Alphabet by Kellenberger-White, and in 2017, Exchange Square hosted Camilla Walala’s Villa Walala, a colourful, inflatable, tactile landscape.
British Land, joint owner of Broadgate, is the Headline Partner of London Design Festival and principal supporter of the British Land London Design Medals, celebrating those who have made a significant contribution to the world of design.