Design patrons come in all shapes and sizes, but few have been as faithful as the Wellcome Trust, the medical research charity that funds research into human and animal health. It has used art and design consistently to dispel the myths that medical research is clinical and impenetrable, and to engage the public in scientific concepts that might otherwise be difficult to comprehend. It is no surprise to find it as the patron of the Science Museum’s Wellcome Wing, which uses experimental design to convey scientific principles.
To this end, it commissioned top architect Michael Hopkins to create its London headquarters, the Gibbs Building at 215 Euston Road, London WC1. The building boasts the hanging Thomas Heatherwick sculpture, Bleigiessen, made of 150 000 coloured glass spheres suspended on a million metres of stainless steel wire, which rises through six storeys, and there is a constant stream of exhibitions by eminent and emerging designers to draw people in.
Last year, the trust’s off-shoot, the £30m Wellcome Collection gallery opened in the space to explore ‘the history and wider meaning of medicine’ through exhibitions and installations. Its latest project was a competition for interactive design to enliven its website for visitors. Conceived for the collection by Ico Design with interactive network BD4D, the project demonstrates the trust’s belief in collaboration with the arts to get its message across.