Tuesday 04 Jun 2013


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Capitol Designer Studio (CDS) commissioned Lily Jencks and Nathanael Dorent to create a pop-up installation in Primrose Hill to show people what's possible using a porcelain tile. The client wanted the designers to create a 'destination' shop and some design buzz to bring people to the area, as local foot traffic alone was not sufficient.

There are two ideas within the installation: one is about perception - how one perceives distances and shapes and makes sense of this environment. The other is about how to display an object for sale: the designers wanted the space to be more than just a showroom selling tiles and to rethink the commercial transaction as something more creative.

The first idea was inspired by Op Art and Gestalt psychology. Pulsate creates a sense of reinforced perspective and as a result will draw people into the space. The pattern that is continuous on the floors walls ceiling and furniture, disrupts how your eye and mind make sense of the space, similar to an op-art painting.  Jencks and Dorent decided to use one system of tiles in one size and four colours. Based on a simple herringbone pattern, they applied it in three dimensions, to create something visible from the street and eye popping. To get the really vivid exciting pattern, they went from dark to light to dark in a gradient, like a pulsating wave, which is where the name comes from. Getting the pattern right according to the installation's variable geometry (and the other way around) was key. The pattern and the supporting structure are so tightly interrelated, there is zero tolerance for error - if the structure changed by even one millimeter, the pattern would not work.

The designers also had the idea of a shop not being only a functional space for consumption, but more about architecture and adventure. The floor, ceiling and walls are sloped, and benches are built into the structure, so you're never really sure what you're looking at and you can experience the space physically. People can sit and have a discussion, lie on the slope, or view the tile product.

The intention was for the shop to be a place where commerce will not only be about selling but about exchanging information. The resulting space will be a ‘cultural hub'.  On 21st March 2013 a nine month period of activity was kick-started, including lectures, product launches and fashion shoots.


Lily Jencks and Nathanael Dorent