Inspired – Katherine Skellon

As a spatial designer working within the museum sector, my work has its own in-built inspiration in the objects and spaces museums bring to us.

My first job is to detect their inspiration within myself and the design challenge is then to unlockit in others.

A particularly strange way this can work is when the inspiration isn’t immediately apparent. When we first received the brief to redesign the Great Hall at the National Railway Museum in York, I thought, ’Oh no, not trains.’ Now I’m a complete convert and can’t wait to see it open. The drama of the trains (The Duchess of Hamilton!) makes that first reaction seem so childish – but then it’s really important to listen to your inner bored teenager and gauge what’s going to hook them.

When it comes down to developing a design, something I return to again and again is the sense of buildings as palimpsests containing layerings of stories accrued over time. Through inter-weaving interpretative media, the memory engrained within the structure is given expression – cue Carlo Scarpa’s infamous Castelvecchio Museum in Verona, Italy as an inspiration here.

Closer to home, my creative drive was nurtured through the chance to work directly into the fabric of Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral: a building sated with memories and history. The Oculus exhibit presents the cathedral’s rich history by seamlessly and innovatively blending with the classical space, and I highly recommend a visit.

Latest articles

Remembering Jon Daniel: 1966-2017

We look back on the life and work of the Design Week columnist, independent creative director and social activist “who helped put black participation on the political map”.