by Jerry Elengical, Samta NadeemSep 23, 2021
East London-based multidisciplinary artist and designer Yinka Ilori has flooded the pedestrian crossings of London with an exuberant array of colours as part of his ‘Bring London Together’ initiative. Commissioned as a Landmark Project under the London Design Festival 2021 programme of events, the series of street art installations is also part of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ‘Let’s Do London’ tourism campaign, animating 18 pedestrian crossings with vivid hues and patterns throughout the city. The project was developed in partnership with the London Borough of Camden as well as the Bloomberg Philanthropies Asphalt Art Initiative - which supports arts-driven street design interventions that improve traffic safety, revitalise public spaces, and engage local communities. Ilori’s playful designs herald the return of festivals and events to the United Kingdom’s capital this autumn, after the pandemic last year.
The initiative transformed 11 pedestrian road crossings on Tottenham Court Road, six crossings in the City of London, as well as The Queen Street pedestrian plaza as part of this year’s London Design Festival. Bold shades of blue, orange, purple, pink, and green have replaced the regular black and white stripes of the crossings, creating accessible spectacles of public art that enhance the visibility of the creative industry, which was disproportionately affected by the events of the previous year.
As per the festival organisers, the creative industry will play a prominent role in the recovery of London’s economy - cementing the city’s status as a melting pot of global design and art. To this end, the overlapping lines and circles that are featured in the motifs of the colourful crossings, convey the new relationships and sense of interconnectedness that has infiltrated the public spirit of late, as seen in projects such as the visual identity and public installations created by Pentagram for the London Design Festival. This year’s event features 10 Design Districts, including the Shoreditch Design Triangle, King’s Cross Design District, Brompton Design District, and Islington Design District, besides curated exhibitions such as the London Design Festival V&A Museum event hub.
In an official statement, Sadiq Khan comments on the project saying, “London is the culture capital of the world, and Yinka’s bright and bold pedestrian crossings represent our city beautifully. They show off our vibrant creative spirit and are the perfect way to launch the autumn season of the ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign.” Khan adds, “There are so many great festivals, events and activities taking place in the capital in the coming months and we are ready to welcome and entertain visitors from across the UK and around the world.”
‘Bring London Together’ also involves an element of community outreach, having invited volunteers to paint the Queen Street pedestrian area over two days during the London Design Festival 2021 dates (September 18-26). In addition, an array of events and digital offers, to be held at Tottenham Court Road in the coming months, will further engage the local community, encouraging them to appreciate and interact with the street art on display. Furthermore, as a means to inspire and advance the next generation of creative professionals in the city, Ilori collaborated with students from the University of the Arts London, giving them an opportunity to benefit from his wealth of knowledge and experience and sharpen their skills while working on their first public commission. Among the budding talents involved, graphic art designs by Annabel Maguire, Sophie Cornish-Keefe and Eliot Everton were used for the graphic installations throughout the City of London.
Reflecting on the project, Ilori mentions in an official statement, "I am incredibly excited to be part of this Landmark Project in London as part of the London Design Festival and the ‘Let's Do London’ initiative. At a time when we all need light and joy, I hope my installation brings people together to create joyful and harmonious moments that live in their hearts forever."
Click here to read all about STIR at LDF, a STIR series on what to look out for at the London Design Festival 2021.