First impressions count for everything, a principle UK creative practice LAZERIAN responded to after being commissioned to create an inspiring centrepiece for a new £10million arts and media college campus. An innovation in sculptural, public realm furniture, FLOW provides a welcome to Clarendon Sixth Form College in Manchester, a workspace, a meeting point and a physical statement of the college’s educational mission.
Aiming to contribute to the three-way relationship between students, the college and the broader sphere of artistic practice, Lazerian’s Liam Hopkins developed FLOW by drawing the line of movement of six dancers. The process traced the performance and revealed a set of compact, visual data, which could then be clad in a virtual skin, effectively trapping the energy of the dancers that had otherwise been lost. Taking the design to prototyping and fabrication, Lazerian turned away from a cumbersome, literal ‘skinning’ of the form, instead looking at a lightweight, modular approach to creating a physical manifestation of the findings.
Liam Hopkins says: “FLOW’s references to movement gave us an undulating form, from which a hi-quality, time-sensitive and cost-effective manufacturing method needed to be developed to become viable. A component-based approach would offer a logistical solution when it came to transport and build, but by separating the design and letting the form flow through hundreds of individual elements, there was also a strong conceptual message for the college’s students of the whole being the sum of its parts. In a digital age of global collaboration, it’s an important principle for anyone with a creative spark who wants to fulfil their potential.”
Assembled on site and completed in October 2015, 300 individual slices of cherry-veneered birch plywood, a material of choice for the Lazerian studio and sympathetic to the interior fit out of Clarendon College’s new building, come together to complete a design that ebbs and flows, yet remains true to the performer’s rhythmic discipline and the physical limits of the human form. These inherent traits not only communicate the power of planned and purposeful artistic performance, but by tracing human movement, the process also made FLOW ergonomically viable by its nature.
As well as being the new home of FLOW, Clarendon College’s investment in its facilities for young people to explore modern creative practice includes state of the art laboratories, a 200 seat theatre, dance studios, media and digital art spaces, modern classrooms and social spaces.