by Ayesha AdonaisAug 01, 2023
Tall leafy plants, simple shingle roofs, and the new electric car of the future. A simple, utopian world reminiscent of Minecraft's pixelated aesthetics. Simple shapes and bold colours populate the space of Shoreditch Electric Light Station as part of a spatial installation at this year's London Design Festival, created by MINI in collaboration with artist and designer Morag Myerscough. MINI is the automotive partner for this year's design festival and along with this installation—conceived to announce their new MINI Cooper Electric—has organised talks and events throughout the week, to explore the future of urban design and technology.
Other initiatives by MINI at LDF 2023 include The Urban Cabin, a research space designed in collaboration with architect Sam Jacob, a part of MINI LIVING, a long-term research project that explores the future of urban habitats; and Forests, an installation in the square next to Shoreditch Fire Station in east London, UK created in collaboration with architect Asif Khan, which uses plants to explore the relationship between private and public spaces within the city.
Described as 'a luscious urban world where tradition meets technology,' the installation at Shoreditch Electric represents the meeting of MINI and Myerscough’s shared values of innovation and the creative use of space. Myerscough, who grew up in the grim environment of Holloway, describes her vision as "aspirational, magical and a possible future for the city." "There are shared streets, shared cars, clutter removed and offering a positive future within a renewable context. I want people to feel uplifted by these possibilities. The plants are as big as the houses," she shares. Myerscough’s signature style presents a vividly immersive experience, a journey into a future where the grass is greener, and the future is electric. The juxtaposition of situating it in a 19th century electricity generating station adds a whole new dimension to the space at the design event taking place from September 16-24, 2023.
A sense of nostalgia permeates the immersive installation. From the title Nice to Meet you Again, which pays homage to the Classic Mini make seen in their newly launched vehicle, to Myerscough’s rural-inspired utopia. Offering an insight into the future envisioned by MINI, the utopian here is in reference to a place where the bucolic meets the urban. It represents hope, rendered so exuberantly in Myerscough's signature colours. For her design, Myerscough was inspired by the notion of a metropolis that is made by the people. In this vein, Nice to Meet You Again incorporates the vibrancy of cityscapes with the sensorial experience of the country.
Myerscough was perhaps the perfect contemporary artist to collaborate on this undertaking. She explains, “It’s as if MINI took colours from my palette and put it in their range.” Pinks, yellows and purples are layered atop the trademark greens, browns and blues of the brand’s cars, each playing off the other. Moreover, her ability to inject joy into urban and indoor spaces, and foreground a sense of belonging in the communities she works with comes through in emphasising the brand’s values. MINI’s initiatives at this year’s festival underscore their commitment to creating positive change within urbanscapes.
As the brand moves to be fully electric by 2030, visitors to the installation are invited into a possible future world that reflects a sense of optimism and MINI’s signature playful nature. Talking about the sensorial experience of her design, and how the lockdown served as inspiration, Myerscough relays, “(when lockdown hit) birds started singing and I thought, ‘Wow—this is what it would be like if we don’t have big lorries coming into the city.” Seasonal smells, pleasant chirps and a sense of countryside camaraderie fill the air at Shoreditch Electric Station. At least for a while. The installation is on view from September 16-19.
London Design Festival is back! In its 21st edition, the faceted fair adorns London with installations, exhibitions, and talks from major design districts including Shoreditch Design Triangle, Greenwich Peninsula, Brompton, Design London, Clerkenwell Design Trail, Mayfair, Bankside, King's Cross, and more. Click here to explore STIR’s highlights from the London Design Festival 2023.