Saturday Spotlight: UAL: The Power of Happiness

We are always excited to see art and design inspired by the Brunel family or the museum itself. We have therefore decided to spotlight some of the wonderful work that we get sent by the community we are proud to be a part of.

If you are interested in your works (or those of your child) being included in one of our spotlight articles, please message us via our social media accounts or send an email to hello@thebrunelmuseum.com titled Saturday Spotlight with a picture (or several), a brief introduction to the artist, and an overview of the piece (or pieces) pictured. We can’t wait to see what you send us! (We are also always happy to work with local educational institutions.)

Today our spotlight shines on twenty one final year students from BA Interior and Spatial Design, University of the Arts London.

The Power of Happiness

The Brunel Museum this year has been working with the students who have been thinking about how best to enliven our familiar plaza with thoughtful interaction and public engagement.

Students started the project in October 2019, led by their lecturers Colin Priest and Takako Hasagawa, by exploring human-centric ideas of re-engineering happiness alongside the treasures in the museum collection to propose imaginative scenarios for the future. Senior Lecturer Colin Priest said, “We have been keen to work with the museum for a number of years and it has been amazing opportunity to stir ideas on how this important heritage site can evolve”. The project started with a visit to the museum and a guided tour with former Director Robert Hulse, here students were introduced to the layered histories and upcoming plans for the museum.

Excited by this prospect, students embarked upon a series of research and design activities to dig deep into the landscape and the museum’s surroundings. Interior and Spatial Design student Elena Ancarani mentioned, “Working with the Brunel Museum has been inspirational as the welcoming spirit and knowledge of the volunteers has supported me in understanding and valuing the sense of locality in Rotherhithe”.

This culminated in an online presentation of work in May 2020 with students streaming from across the world to a panel from the museum including: Dana Skelly, Chair of the Museum Trustees; Jerry Tate, Lead designer & Architect for Brunel Museum Regeneration project; Sarah Kuklewicz, Museum Volunteer (Web and social media); Julian Ayre, Museum Heritage Manager and Fiona King, Heritage consultant, with student Irene Cerminara stating “feedback received certainly raised confidence in my project and in myself as a young designer”. Speculative projects from the students ranged from mobile public furniture to commemorative spectacles, wilding landscapes to community play-scapes for animal or human interaction. This wide range of ideas ignited conversations about how and why a museum cooperates with the city and its locality. Student Natsuno Katashima said, “The museum’s strong identity has definitely been a stimulation throughout the journey” with Xinjie Ye affirming, “For me, the most exciting part of the Brunel Museum is the museum itself”. Julian Ayre mentioned, “The student’s projects highlight the importance of keeping our minds open to new audiences as we move forward”.

From the outset, there was an intention to exhibit the work in the museum for either the London Festival of Architecture or the Thames Festival, but these plans invariably changed due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The exhibition of speculative ideas will now be available for public view in a showcase of work in July 2020 (link will be provided once the exhibition opens).

Work-in-progress images left to right, (top) Myriam Hara, Elena Ancarani, Abrar Tamboli, Irene Cerminara, Evgeniya Beruchashvili, (bottom) Phoebe Matthews, Natsuno Katashima, Litaphone Khatsavang, Ian Chu, Xinjie Ye.

Interior and Spatial Design Students: Abrar Tamboli, Aleksandra Sekula, Charlie Norris, Eisaku Kubo, Elena Ancarani, En-Fan Kao, Evgeniya Beruchashvili, Ian Chu, Irene Cerminara, Joseph Murphy, Lizhu He, Litaphone Khatsavang, Maryam Abasova, Myriam Hara, Natsuno Katashima, Phoebe Matthews, Sam Clarke, Shiyunyue Huang, Xianzi Luo, Xinjie Ye, Yuhan Gong.

Remember: If you are interested in your works (or those of your child) being in our spotlight article, please message us via our social media accounts or send an email to hello@thebrunelmuseum.com titled Saturday Spotlight with a picture (or several), a brief introduction to the artist, and an overview of the piece (or pieces) pictured. Sending an entry will count as permission for us to put what you send on our website and social media channels. We may edit any associated text. We can’t wait to see what you send us!

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The Brunel Museum