Casson Mann sidelined from Expo design team?

Changes to the design team working on the British pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo 2010 could have resulted in the sidelining of Casson Mann.

Together with Heatherwick Studio, Casson Mann made the joint winning pitch to build the pavilion in July last year, and was to lead its video content (DW 26 September 2007).

Now, however, the extensive video aspect of the project is being created by Philip Dodd, former director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, and Leigh Gibson, director of arts at the British Council.

While it is not clear what ensued, Casson Mann has not accompanied the rest of the Expo design team on a trip to Shanghai this week. Along with Casson Mann and Heatherwick Studio, the original symposium of design groups working on the pavilion included Atelier Ten and Adams Kara Taylor.

Heatherwick Studio maintains that this is because the trip is to work on engineering and architectural elements of the build, rather than exhibition content, and denies that Casson Mann has been sidelined. Casson Mann declined to comment.

‘This isn’t a project that remains static and as you can imagine there are a lot of different interested parties that will become involved along the way,’ says Sally Cohen, development manager at Heatherwick Studio. ‘Casson Mann’s speciality is exhibition design, not content creation.’

At the beginning of this year, Applied Information Group joint creative director Malcolm Garrrett started consulting on the pavilion’s interactive element. ‘We are waiting to see what happens with that,’ says AIG managing director Kasper de Graaf.

Casson Mann’s original idea for the pavilion shop, which involved mechanical arms dispensing ‘tribal party bags’, has also been taken off the table.

‘I would be very concerned if the ideas that were put together in the first few weeks of the project were still there two and half years later,’ says Cohen. ‘Until the content is fixed the people working on it will change, and perhaps even after that point.’

Further details of the final design of the pavilion are emerging. The 100 000 5m rods that will be closely packed to create a vast, four-sided video screen are to be made of acrylic, measuring about 2.5cm in diameter.

The pavilion’s video content will be unveiled in September.

Content designers: Leigh Gibson, director of arts at the British Council; Philip Dodd, former director of the Institute of Contemporary Art; and Malcolm Garrett, joint creative director, AIG
Project director: Janet Rogan, British Consul-General in Tel Aviv and a fluent Mandarin-speaker
Financial backers: Barclays, GKN, British Petroleum, Astra Zeneca (£500 000 each)

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