Jason Bruge’s studio unveils an installation inspired by “nature’s signposts”.

Jason Bruges describes how his recent public work, Floral Guide, was shaped by the ‘choreography’ between plants and pollinators.

Jason Bruge’s studio has unveiled its latest public commission, an interactive artwork inspired by “nature’s colour-based signage systems”.

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

Studio founder Jason Bruges explains that the work responds to the proximity of the research and education facility Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. When the studio contemplated how people would flow through the public space of an underpass, the studio looked to nature for inspiration.

He says the studio regularly “takes inspiration from natural systems and how they work” and has previously worked with the idea of ​​photoreception as a signaling system of sorts. But for this project, the studio “zoomed in on pollinators” and took the opportunity to speak to some of Kew’s researchers.

“We looked for guidance systems for different insect species, but especially for bees, as there are 100 species of bees at Kew,” says Bruges.

He explains that Phil Stevenson, Professor of Plant Chemistry at the Royal Botanic Gardens, was instrumental in these discussions. An interesting metaphor they discussed was “a flower as a café,” which referred to an “addictive” chemical in nectar.

“The bees are kind of addicted [as if] to caffeine and back again and again,” says Bruges. The color of the flower will then change to show how much nectar is left, “real time signaling”.

Dubbing this process “choreography,” the studio explored how the installation could act in a similar way, changing “in response to the frequency of people walking by, like bees walking past flowers,” says Bruges.

The work consists of a series of modular components that are “arranged over the wall like a meadow of flowers”. Using dichroic glass to create the colors resulted in “very rich, wonderful colors,” Bruges says.

“It has great registration on the brick walls; We were very responsive to the space,” he adds.

The studio “often takes those insignificant, unloved spaces and gives them a little twist,” Bruges says. “We hope it’s something that the community will really like and respond to.”

According to Bruges, Floral Guide will be a permanent installation, as are 80% of the studio’s projects. Designed to last “20 years plus,” he explains, the modules are “designed to be repairable,” while visually, “it’s very important that they have that timeless elegance that doesn’t fatigue.”

Referring to the in-house team of “engineers, technologists, designers and artists” who designed the modules, Bruges says: “We design everything with the manufacturing processes in mind. We test everything to make sure it has long life cycles.”

For a project like this, the studio also creates a range of replacement modules “and even manuals,” he adds, so the customer can easily swap out parts – while the team is often tasked with maintenance as well.

Reflecting on the project, he says, “It’s a pretty simple concept in a way, but really intriguing.

“We’re always trying to shed some light on the natural world and our relationship to it — biodiversity and bees and how things get pollinated, those are crucial things.”

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

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

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