This morning (24 October), Bloomberg’s enormous new European headquarters opened in the City of London to great fanfare, with London mayor Sadiq Khan and the building’s architect Norman Foster speaking to hundreds of gathered press. Officially the most sustainable major office development in the world, occupying 3.2 acres – a whole block near St Paul’s Cathedral on the site of a Roman temple – and after ten years in the making, it goes without saying it represents a huge investment for the company, not least in the artists they commissioned to add to the project.
The list of artistic collaborators includes Olafur Eliasson, Michael Craig-Martin, Arturo Herrera, Isabel Nolan, Cristina Iglesias, David Tremlett and Pae White, who created new pieces designed to complement and respond to the architecture. An existing work by Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell is also on display.
Michael Craig-Martin made 12 pieces under the title Lexicon for the interior – pop-coloured enlargements of everyday objects that span three floors. Many have been bisected to split across floors, for example a giant yellow watch that can be seen conjoined from a “sweet spot” on the building’s central spiral staircase.
“There’s variety of how they react to the space,” Michael said at the launch. “Some of the images go up, some go down, a door handle goes horizontally. All the people who will be here will be those working here every day. There won’t be visitors. So I’m quite sure these will end up being used as signage by the people who work here. People will say, ‘Oh I’m on the second floor, right near the watch. I think that’s perfect. Each thing is individual, but it makes sense as a single work.”
At the heart of the office, at the base of the spiral stairs, is an undulating metallic “pool” by Olafur Eliasson. This is one of two visually similar pieces by the artist, titled No future is possible without a past, the other installed on the ceiling at the building’s entrance. Made of polished stainless steel and designed to reflect the bustling office around it, Olafur says he came to the title “knowing this would be a future-oriented building built on the site of a Roman temple, and I thought of the relationship between the two”.
He also looked to depict economic models for society. “The activity in [this building] is an economic machine, which is very much about predicting the future. Water is hard to predict. In this building people will be trying to control what can appear to be uncontrollable. Who knows what the markets, the currencies, the situations of the future will be?
“The economic models we build our society on are about inclusion and caring for the least resourceful, trying to create a system to allow people who have less to have access to more. Then if we look to the future where there seems to be a polarisation in the economy, a postmodern era where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, the idea of bringing the past narrative and the future together, I think, is a relevant point. The title could also be about which values we act upon when we try to control the future.”
At the press conference, Michael Bloomberg said that the artistic investment throughout the project was based on the idea that “the arts help cities thrive”.
- Territory Studio on making organic, lo-fi graphics for Blade Runner 2049
- Evan Cohen’s illustrated characters work together to travel through the panels of his comic
- Tadas Karpavicius's risky opera catalogue creates "fluidity and an organic feeling"
- Wang & Söderström create digital art you want to reach out and touch in new exhibition
- Joe Mrava and Austin Ledzian tell the story of the modern-day female farmer
- Photographer Lukas Korschan got on the wrong boat, but made a great series out of it
- Pee on this Ikea print ad, and if you’re pregnant, you get a crib half price
- The rebrand for Russia’s tourist board uses Suprematist geometry laid out as a map
- The Guardian unveils redesign across print and online
- Coca-Cola reveals custom typeface, TCCC Unity, inspired by its modernist heritage
- A first look at Uber and NASA's new flying vehicle
- Uniqlo and Marimekko collaborate on bold and expressive new collection