Recently we were approached by Leeds City Council to be a part of the design team behind a new installation for Leeds Train Station.
Following the success of the British Art Show 8, there has been some really exciting cultural and visual public art pieces springing up around the city of Leeds and we were super excited to be invited to be part of this one, which was commissioned by Leeds Bid.
The brief was to create a visual welcome to the city that celebrated the culture and diversity of Leeds. This was to be located in the entrance of the Train Station, on the main concourse, which is a highly visible space with thousands of visitors daily.
We worked as part of a team of Leeds-based Design Studios, Illustrators and Artists which consisted of Ourselves, Hungry Sandwich Club, Kristyna Kaczynski and Idiot's Pasture, and was led by Something More.
After multiple workshops and idea generation sessions, we agreed that the piece needed to be highly visual and have instant impact. We also wanted the installation to be a celebration of the city and have the potential to be constantly changing, updating as the city grows.
The final proposed idea was to create a typographic structure of the word 'Leeds' which was a confident and bold welcome to the city. We decided that each letter form would also double up as a blank canvas for artists to display their work, with the opportunity of this being updated regularly to provide new art that can be themed around big events in the city.
When designing the letterforms themselves, it was key that each letter had a lot of internal surface area. This was to maximise the size of the canvas that the commissioned artists could work with. After lots of different stages of design with the whole creative team, we settled on a bespoke typeface that had a 'bloated' treatment. This treatment allowed us to be able to remove the cuts in the 'E' and 'S' as well as the counter in the 'D', which in turn provided the maximum amount of surface area whilst retaining readability and legibility of the word 'Leeds'.
We wanted the letters to be placed in a 'scattered' formation within the main concourse of the station in order for the installation to become a natural part of the overall space. We wanted people to engage with the piece by walking in between the letterforms and even sitting on them. This meant that the physical form of the letters needed to be visually engaging but also structurally sound.
In the end, and with help from XKX Projects and Something More, we decided that the outer shells of the letterforms would needed to be formed from Steel to be robust enough. As this was a public art piece, we decided to apply a white powder coating finish on top of the steel to provide a clean, blank canvas for the art as well as smooth inviting surface for passers by to touch, sit on and interact with.
The clear polycarbonate sheets were attached to the inside of the letterforms with small Metal lugs. The sheets were printed using clear vinyl film which allowed for parts of the design to be opaque, emphasising the interactive value with the passing commuters.
The 5 contributing artists (including ourselves) created the initial pieces of art to be displayed in the letters and worked to a brief entitled 'Celebrate Leeds', where we each visualised what was great about the City, and what it means to us.
You can read more about the project on the Windows of Leeds website. A massive thanks to everybody involved with this project and we were delighted to be a part of it.
Fabrication and Installation was by XKX Projects.