When being asked to design this Covent Garden gate, my instant thought is ‘What is the history of the given site?’ Having studied the brief and the accompanying literature, my gut reaction was right, to focus the design on the name’s sake of the new development and its linked history as an old brewery. It was important to us that this Covent Garden gate is able to stand alone as an independent piece of art, whilst at the same time portraying a story that links back to the site and the commissioners.
We have been developing a style over the last couple of years of using laser cut designs into steel plate and attaching hot forged metal details arranged using geometry. This creates a lovely contrast in the metal’s textures.
Machine v’s handmade, something we are very drawn in by, sharp clean-cut machine cut lines against hand hammered forged metal details, giving a fresh approach to the craft, honouring the traditions of blacksmithing but also moving it forward into contemporary design. This style also suites our way of designing; where we focus on the image rather than technicalities first, Some might say this is a tad backwards, but I would bare to differ.
The Covent Garden Gate design therefore represents the simplified stages of brewing; from the stylised barley forms at the bottom, moving into the oak barrels and finishing with the effervescence of the finished product at the top.
The Covent Garden Gate was made from a mix of laser cut Corten steel and overlaid forged elements in mild steel and stainless steel. This mix, of modern and traditional techniques of fabrication, works very well in the scenario where a new development is being created, within a historic building environment. The forge work techniques used are the same as when the original brewery was operating (and before) and the laser cutting is contemporaneous with the modern building technologies. We used the ‘Yards’ logo as a transition from the barrels to the bubbles, a nod to the development.
All the forged mild steel elements were either galvanised or metalized (hot zinc sprayed), before being finished in a dark royal blue graphite finish. This dark finish is offset by the orange Corten laser cut steel behind. There are also forged elements in stainless steel. The stainless steel is electropolished to give a very bright finish. The very bottom barley details are also heated to reveal their array of iridescent temper colours.
This combination of mixed metals provide a beautiful contrast and depth to the Covent Garden Gate. As there are three different steel grades in use, and to give a more detailed finish to the gate, all connections between the forged elements and the Corten plate are mechanical, as either rivets, pins or screwed.
We teamed up with Chris Bramall at CB Arts Ltd and his team over in the lake district. We have known Chris for a while and have been keen to work together since a working on a large public art commission design, that feel through as the development didn’t receive the planning permissions required. Chris has a great set up for exceptionally large pieces of work and an excellent structural knowledge something this gate needed.
They were very cleaver with the way they executed this without interfering with the design, it created a wonderful sense of depth which was a great addition to the final look of the Covent Garden Gate.