Everything I design and make comes from a very honest place… I try to design with a sense of contemporary beauty – I don’t use ‘decoration’.George Singer
George Singer is among the most charmingly English people you could ever hope to meet. Entirely unassuming and eager to talk with real passion about his work: namely, the epic installations that are part-lighting, part-show-stopping sculpture and all beauty.
George’s career started not so long ago, when he designed and built a kinetic chandelier as the final project of his product design course at Central Saint Martins; an internationally recognised centre of design excellence in the heart of London’s Soho.
That design brought him to the attention of the Conran Group, who were looking for three centrepiece chandeliers for their extravagant, art deco flagship restaurant on Chelsea’s glamorous King’s Road: the Bluebird.
Right out of the gate, George was working on only the biggest of stages.
Recalling the early days of that first big commission, George is wistful: “I loved the job and wanted to do it full-time, so I decided to start my own company.”
God bless you, George Singer. It really is that simple, when you’re this good.
George’s quaint, quiet, old-fashioned Englishness belies his high tech, practical process. There’s no befuddled, back shed tinkering here.
George moves quickly from rough, initial sketches to 3D modelling in SolidWorks, which enables him to generate accurate photoreal visualizations and even animations for designs where movement is key, all presented to the client within the eventual space, without having to buy a single roll of wire or cutting up foamboard.
Once the design is finalised, George assembles his team to manufacture, assemble and install the design. That’s easy to write, but does takes quite a bit of time.
A great example of this process is one of George’s most iconic installations.
The Zephyr was undertaken for the Fairmont Hotel, a sprawling 5-star resort among Scotland’s world renowned links at St. Andrews. This 60m-long work is the one that George identifies as being most ‘him’; simultaneously high-tech design, functionality and execution used to create a dream-like, organic form. Some see a flock of starlings, some a school of tuna, a gathering storm or a roaring fire and all of it capable of being lit to any colour of the spectrum.
I’m very pleased with how beautiful it looks and I’m very happy we managed to create it using computer code-writing and fluid dynamics. It’s an interesting mixture of traditional building techniques and very modern technology.George Singer talking about the Zephyr
There’s a fantastic documentary that gives great insight into how George works and this remarkable project in particular.
I like to think I’m a bit like that: old-fashioned and very modern at the same time.
What makes it Sustainable?
Because it’s our kink, we have to ask: is it sustainable?
Unlike many of the designers we talk to, George’s approach to sustainability is not to go obsessively hunting for upcyclable materials. “I design installations where the material and the form are equal and work in harmony,” he says, with our very helpful emphasis added.
Sustainability to me means high quality, well-engineered products which are made in the UK and built to last.
We said it way back at the beginning: by designing to last and building with quality, durable materials, the overall sustainability of any design can be automatically enhanced. Disposability and near-term obsolescence will only balloon your footprint.
The other way that George didn’t even realise he was improving his sustainability was by his use of computer-aided design techniques for his mock-ups and concept work.
In the past, artists of large scale installations would create scale models out of ply-wood, foamboard or even carved wood. There would likely be multiple models at various scales, updated and changed through a number of variations as the final design is refined. At each stage there was more waste, more offcuts, more errors and more versions that just weren’t quite right.
Many designers still use these traditional methods. It may be because it’s what they or their clients are comfortable with, but in doing so they create so much waste!
By keeping his design and development process in the virtual realm for as long as possible, George not only maximises the number of pre-fabrication iterations he can generate – which will make for happier clients at the end of the day – but he also minimises the waste!
Designing the Hurricane
Another great example of this is the Hurricane Chandelier created for Southplace in Moorgate.
For this installation, George needed several hundred brass replicas of a child’s toy Hurricane fighter plane. With planning and previsualisation, the whole design – the size, style and number of Hurricanes needed; even the exact length of every suspending wire! – was all known before George engaged a model-maker to create a squadron of Hurricanes with lost-wax casting.
All with minimal waste.
With his recent successes, George is only getting busier. Currently working on commissions in London, the Middle East, India and China, George is taking his high-tech, low waste approach all over the world.
I get very inspired by artists and musicians who came from nothing and succeeded.
Well George, now you’re one of those too; the vast scope of your vision and the beautiful results all leave us excited to see where you take us next.