Our first project of second year Interior and Environmental Design was a group project called ‘Juteopolis’. The brief was to design an exciting contemporary exhibition on the theme of the jute industry in Dundee.
This was the first time we have had to work in teams on a project. It was quite difficult and I know a few groups didn’t find it enjoyable. I think I was quite lucky with the group of people I was working with. Although we had different opinions on certain ideas we managed to resolve our differences and have put together a final design that I am sure we are all pleased with. The main thing I found difficult about working in a group was trying to express initial ideas or understand an idea that someone else had in their head. However I think by communicating through sketches does help this situation.
The group members, Fawn, Cara and myself at Verdant Works, Esther (back left) is not in our group but "Hello Esther!"
To research exhibition design we went to look at the McManus gallery which is local to us and we also looked at other architects and companies who specialise in this area. One of my favourite exhibition designs was by Casson Mann entitled, ‘Great Expectations’. I have taken an extract from their website which explains a little about it:
Grand Central Station, New York, October 2001
The Design Council asked us to create a major new exhibition for the UkwithNY festival, which was to raise the profile of British products and services. The venue was Grand Central Station; a place people hurry through. We wanted to stop them in their tracks. We developed the idea of a banquet around an illuminated 50 metre long table, suggesting and encouraging conversation and dialogue.
I think the concept is very clever and I love the venue. Also I like the glowing light and the beautiful chandeliers. I think it looks like a really interesting exhibition the way the objects are displayed. This was one of our main sources of inspiration.
Our final design is based on the Past, Present and Future of Jute. Our exhibition shows a distillation process of how to make bio-diesel fuel from the jute plant and other possible ways that jute may be used in the future. We encourage people who come to the exhibition to take some jute away with them and make something to contribute to our exhibition, so with their work it is always changing.
Our exhibition space is dimly lit with the main lighting over the objects which are displayed in bell jars. We put the objects in the bell jars to make them look like specimens in jars - like they have in science labs - linking with the futuristic part of our theme. We have also used LED pressure sensitive tiles on the floor. Our messages and images from the past are on some of these tiles. We wanted the viewer to interact with the space and as the past is usually buried we wanted them to uncover it. By stepping on the correct tiles the viewer will find information about the past.
We tried to use sustainable materials in our design. For our main wall we have used raw oak from a local timber yard in Aberfeldy, cutting down on transportation. The bell jars we are using are recycled and the table in the centre of the room which displays the main objects is made of sandglass.
Another part of our project was to create an emotive object on the same theme, for Louise Ritchie. Our object came from thinking about the Dundee workers in the jute mills and how they came together to make the jute industry stronger and stronger. This links with the jute itself. The jute is weak in its raw form as individual strands but as it is processed and tightly woven it becomes strong.
The project ‘Juteopolis’ is now coming to an end. I just need to have a run through of what I’m going to say before the presentation tomorrow. Eek! Fingers crossed it all goes well.