Posted Monday 14 November 2016
The secrets of an iconic London building designed by a renowned modernist architect were explored in a project led by Kingston University postgraduate curating students. Two Willow Road in Hampstead was designed by Hungarian-born architect Ernö Goldfinger as a family home and studio.
Built in 1939 and considered one of the finest examples of British modernism today, it was rumoured to have inspired the creation of Ian Fleming's notorious Bond villain Auric Goldfinger.
Now managed by the National Trust, the house was recently opened up to a group of nine students on Kingston University's MA Curating Contemporary Design course to help celebrate 20 years of the venue's preservation. The students were invited to host one of a series of evening events showcasing the building's unique architecture and history.
After carrying out research into the building's history, the students chose light as the theme of the event, inspired by the way Ernö Goldfinger had directed light in each part of the house in an attempt to affect people's spatial awareness as well as positively impact on their health and behaviour.
The project provided an opportunity for the team to showcase and test the curation skills they had acquired on the course, according to postgraduate student Chris French, who was part of the team. "Working on 2 Willow Road gave us a fabulous opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities to a range of industry experts, curators and studio designers," he said.
After hearing about the opportunity in early June, the group worked tirelessly on the project while also juggling final dissertation writing. "We were certainly thrown in at the deep end, but this gave us fantastic experience of how a professional curation project works," Chris said. "Having a team from such a wide range of nationalities and cultures – from China and East Asia to South America – also really benefitted the project, as we had such a rich diversity of ideas and approaches to draw from."
The event – called LateLight – was attended by a number of representatives from high-profile industry organisations. Guest speakers included Florian Ortkrass, founder of leading London design studio Random International. Mr Ortkrass spoke about notions of human perception, behaviour and physiology and described how these informed the studio's work on different light installations. MA Curating Contemporary Design student Kristina Anilane spoke about how Goldfinger had used a heliometer – a type of telescope used to measure the sun's diameter – to study light patterns.
A spatial installation accompanied a time-lapse film to demonstrate how light in 2 Willow Road changes throughout the day, as the sun moves across the sky.
The evening also included shadow puppetry from a further two students from the postgraduate curating course, Yuan Zhang and Dianting Jiang, whose illustrative storytelling demonstrating the use of light throughout the building.
Kingston University Associate Professor of Curating Contemporary Design, Jana Scholze, who oversaw the project together with her teaching partner from the Design Museum, Donna Loveday, said creating LateLight had helped the students acquire invaluable professional practice experience. "They were involved in the whole process from initial concept development, through the research stage, to creating the final art installations and co-ordinating all promotional activity," she explained. "LateLight gave our students a unique opportunity to curate a live event which will give them a definite edge with future employers."