Getting all tessellated! – Birkett House Hydrotherapy Pool mosaics

For the last year or so we’ve been working as the Interior designers for the Birkett House special school new build scheme in Leicestershire. Our client is Leicestershire County Council with the main contractor as Willmott Dixon Construction.

A key part of what we do are the engagement processes we like to develop with a school in order to understand how they tick so that our design can be part of the transformative outcomes for staff and pupil.

One of these projects has been an inclusive mosaic project for the hydrotherapy pool that encouraged every pupil and lots of staff to produce a mosaic tile to help energise the pool area and contribute to a sense of ownership.

The overall concept was that the mosaic tiles would be arranged in a pattern similar in concept to the Lego urban art interventions and the tessellated super graphics being used in other places around the school such as the circulation areas. The background thinking to this is that pupils on the autistic spectrum respond favourably to logical repeated patterns which in turn contributes to a calming environment.

We created a template for the mosaics based on the 250x500mm standard white pool tile. This was the template that the school used to set out their mosaics. After some initial worries that we wouldn’t be able to produce enough tiles; the school eventually generated over 150 mosaic sets – more than enough!

We ran inset training workshops with the staff and also supervised some of the pupil workshops to ensure that we had a consistent approach. The task itself particularly suited children on the autistic spectrum as it requires accuracy, gluing the tiles precisely within the lines, and an ability to develop abstract patterns.

One member of staff working with complex needs children with limited motor skills devised a particularly creative approach on how to engage her class. Children painted their design onto the mosaic template which was then duplicated by members of staff as the final mosaic pattern. This was a very good solution to the challenge of enabling every pupil to contribute to the scheme.

mosaic scheme

lego urban art

birkett house mosaic workshop

Tarkett ‘Floor Is The New Playground’ part 2

As promised here is the second instalment to the ‘Floor Is The New Playground’ challenge hosted by Tarkett.

Just a quick recap;

The premise of the competition or shall we say challenge was that designers would submit their designs in order to remain on top of the pile. As I played with the patterns and submitting; one other designer’s name kept popping up; René Wissinck (Follow on Twitter with @AtelierArgos) from Atelier Argos based in the Netherlands.

This was going international. Via Twitter we started to exchange ideas and encouragement and then – I would argue as all designers like to do – decided that here lay an opportunity to collaborate. Isn’t that a great vindication of what social media can do to bring people together.

René suggested that one of us could start a pattern, screenshot it and send it to the other to then complete and submit. A sort of graphic game of tag if you like. Now we’re talking design collaboration. Another vista of infinite opportunity opens up.

So René and myself decided to take the game up to a new level. We each set eachother a challenge by developing a pattern and then sending just a portion of the design to eachother. The aim was we would then both complete a design and compare the results.

Not content with that we then decided to start put the patterns into 3D models so as to render the patterns into flooring designs. By this point we were beginning to see how the quick online game could be turned into a practical tool for flooring design.

René agreed to do the design ‘heavy lifting’ and worked hard to generate the model and visuals. Naturally he took it a step further and created a complete environment – the new virtual ‘Floor Is The New Playground’ exhibition hall.

Into this space he assembled many of the designs that we had both developed. Some were placed on the floor whilst others became part of a virtual exhibition.

So where do we go from here?

Well the game brought myself and René together as designers and we’ve really enjoyed the collaboration. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take it even further into an actual project collaboration.

FITNP virtual exhibition

FITNP virtual exhibition

FITNP virtual exhibition

FITNP virtual exhibition

Cantoo is Tarkett’s ‘Floor is the new Playground’ winner

Recently Tarkett launched their ‘Floor is the new Playground’ (http://bit.ly/1X6OzEs) online competition. This was a call to architects and designers to show their creativity and design their own flooring pattern using a rather nifty browser app that allowed you to arrange floor tiles in a pattern and then submit the resulting design.

Well what’s a designer to do in these circumstances but answer the call and take up the challenge!

My initial patterns were a little tentative. Then the creative brain kicked in as I realised that the app allowed tons of freedom to play with pattern making. Quite apart from being able to change the colours of tiles, rotate and duplicate; you could also cut them up into new shapes and then later randomize the pattern with pre-set mirror and flip type actions. A world of endless possibilities opened up. Further patterns were submitted. Then the bug really kicked in…. having slavishly arranged the tiles by locking them next to eachother I noticed that you could overlap them to create even more configurations. This time even more pleasingly random.

The premise of the competition or shall we say challenge was that designers would submit their designs in order to remain on top of the pile. As I played with the patterns and submitting; one other designer’s name kept popping up; René Wissinck from Atelier Argos based in the Netherlands. This was going international. Via Twitter we started to exchange ideas and encouragement and then – I would argue as all designers like to do – decided that here lay an opportunity to collaborate. Isn’t that a great vindication of what social media can do to bring people together.

René suggested that one of us could start a pattern, screenshot it and send it to the other to then complete and submit. A sort of graphic game of tag if you like. Now we’re talking design collaboration. Another vista of infinite opportunity opens up.

We’ll let you know how we get on.

Oh a postscript – Tarkett announced a winning design for the competition and incredibly it was Cantoo. How fantastic is that!

The judges comments were as follows;

It has this mix of the classic and contemporary at the same time. The color mix is not too contrasted, but it is really well balanced. There is something interesting in the way we sort of recognize patterns within the patterns. Something of cement tiles, yet not completely. Finally, we recognize in this layout something of contemporary art. It could be a cubic or abstract painting…by Klee or Delaunay. The layout is an interrogation of what defines simplicity (we can talk about just triangles) and complexity (intricate arrangements). And in conclusion it looks like this is the kind of pattern you would never get tired of.

tarkett-winning-pattern

Floor is the new Playground

tarkett-lvt4

tarkett-lvt6

tarkett-lvt7a

tarkett-lvt9