Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners
Fusion is a travelling exhibition by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners which unveils ten of the forgotten details which make buildings great.
With an international title that conveys the same meaning in many languages, it aims to underline the importance of collaboration in Grimshaw’s practice. Born out of the practice’s in-house industrial design department, it features 18 free-standing aluminium cases, each portraying the working processes that exist behind Grimshaw’s finished buildings or products. Projects on display range from the celebrated Waterloo International Terminal to the headquarters for the Western Morning News and the Financial Times Printworks.
“The spirit of Fusion is to show how we work, the collaboration and teamwork that exists between clients, architects, manufacturers and designers, all coming together,” say Eoin Billings and Duncan Jackson of the architect’s industrial design department.
Both the exhibition and the catalogue are a celebration of manufacture, a nitty-gritty inventory of nuts, bolts and light fittings which are ultimately the stuff that makes design work. The exploration of the processes that go into creating something so mundane as aluminium arms that hold together a bus shelter’s glazing is not only a reinstatement of the importance of details, but also the acknowledgment of ancient techniques such as lost wax casting. “We look at old and new techniques in manufacturing,” explains Billings. “The exhibition is aimed at architects and designers to show how things get made and [as a consequence] it opens doors.”
This middle ground, the connection between design and manufacture, is often overseen by architects and designers. Billings mentions Arad as an exception, as someone who is curious about materials and processes and will use them for his own designs.
The exhibition has also had the merit of creating a bespoke product. The aluminium flight cases are now produced by Mabeg as an exhibition system called Mobile, self-contained in travelling boxes which come with their own shelves and lighting system by Zumbtobel. “The exhibition is a useful exercise in making for Grimshaw & Partners,” says Jackson. “It travels easily and it’s educational.” Billings adds: “What we are doing is taking it back to the craft. Buildings are not made by robots; there is a human element there and if you understand it, you appreciate it.”