Jason Bruges Studio unveils installation inspired by “nature’s wayfinding”

Jason Bruges describes how the “choreography” between plants and pollinators informed the studio’s latest public commission.

Jason Bruges Studio has published its latest public commission, an interactive artwork that takes cues from “nature’s color-based detection systems”.

Located in an underpass between Brentford Stadium and Kew Bridge, the project is a commission for sustainability-focused developer EcoWorld London.

The founder of the studio, Jason Bruges, explains that the work responds to the proximity of the research and education institution, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. Thinking about how people would flow through the public space on a subway, the studio looked to nature for inspiration.

He says the studio is “regularly inspired by natural systems and how they work”, and has previously worked with the idea of ​​photocomposition as a signaling system. But for this project, the studio “zoomed in on pollinators”, and took the opportunity to speak to some of the Kew researchers.

“We were looking at wayfinding systems for different types of insects, but especially bees, because Kew has 100 species of bees”, says Bruges.

He explains that Phil Stevenson, professor of plant chemistry at the Royal Botanic Gardens, was instrumental in these conversations. An interesting metaphor they discussed was “a flower as a coffee shop”, referring to an “addictive” chemical within the nectar.

“The bees are kind of addicted (as it were) to the caffeine and they keep coming back”, says Bruges. The color of the flower then changes to show how much nectar is left, a “real-time signal”.

Describing this process as “choreography”, the studio looked at how the installation could similarly act and “change in response to the frequency of people passing by, like bees passing by the flowers”, says Bruges.

The work comprises a series of modular components “arranged across the wall like a flower hedge”. The use of dichroic glass to create the colors resulted in “amazing, deeply saturated colors”, says Bruges.

“It has a great registration on the brick walls; we were very responsive to the space”, he says.

The studio often takes these unloved liminal spaces and gives them a bit of a twist”, says Bruges. “We hope that it will be something that the public will really like and respond to”.

Floral Guide will be a permanent installation, as 80% of the studio’s projects are, according to Bruges. It is intended for a lifetime of “20 years plus”, he explains that the modules are “designed to be changeable”, although it is very important from a visual point of view that they have this timeless elegance that never fails tired”.

Speaking of the internal team of “engineers, technologists, designers and artists” who designed the modules, Bruges says “we design everything in a way that is sensitive to the manufacturing processes. We test everything to make sure it has long lifespans”.

For projects like this, the studio creates several spare modules “and even manuals”, he said, so that the client can easily replace parts – and the staff is often retained to take care of maintenance as well.

Reflecting on the project, he says, “It’s a pretty simple concept in some ways, but very interesting.

“We’re always trying to shine a light on the natural world and our relationship with it – biodiversity and bees and how things are pollinated, these are vital things.”

The permanent installation is now complete, located at Kew Bridge Gate, London, UK.

All images courtesy of Jason Bruges Studio, photos by Sandra Ciampone.

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