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– Written by Ellen McConnell – May 24, 2023

SketchUp and Steve Messam Redefine Art at Clerkenwell Design Week 2023

In a captivating collaboration that pushes the boundaries of design and architecture, SketchUp joins forces with renowned British artist Steve Messam

Known for his large-scale inflatable artwork, Steve Messam will showcase his exceptional public art, designed using SketchUp, at the St. John’s Gate of the Order of St. John—an iconic architectural site at the heart of Clerkenwell Design Week.

Steve Messam’s installation ‘Gateway’ at Clerkenwell Design Week

The installation, named ‘Gateway’, stands tall at 6 meters in height and stretches 15.5 meters in length. Composed of 27 enormous hand-sewn spikes in a striking blue textile, Gateway belongs to Messam’s ongoing art series that captivates historic architectural sites while provoking viewers to reconsider their environment through its enigmatic form and size. Messam’s ambition with this installation is to provide visitors with a remarkable experience, shedding light on the historical structure in a profoundly impactful manner. The installation invites contemplation and exploration, encouraging observers to engage with the interplay between its geometry and the esteemed heritage of the site. 

Steve Messam’s installation ‘Gateway’ at Clerkenwell Design Week
Steve Messam’s installation ‘K2’ at Clerkenwell Design Week

Gateway, forms a part of a wider collaboration during Clerkenwell Design Week, with three other inflatable sculptures which have been attached to existing iconic London phone boxes. Two of these sculptures are created from red textiles and wrap traditional red K2 phone boxes, while the third black K6 kiosk is wrapped in a pink inflatable. When considering the phone box as a key part of the landscape character, Messam asked ‘what do we do when they have no practical purpose?’

Steve Messam’s installation ‘K2’ at Clerkenwell Design Week

SketchUp has been an essential tool in Messam’s creative process for nearly fifteen years, empowering him to visualize and refine his grand installations within their intended contexts. SketchUp’s autonomy and user-friendly platform have granted Messam the freedom to embark on ambitious projects while effectively translating his and his clients’ imaginative ideas into tangible three-dimensional space.

Steve Messam shares his perspective on SketchUp, stating,

 “On my first encounter with SketchUp, I was left with the sense that the tool worked in a similar way to how I thought. From the very early days of using the platform, it has helped me through my creative process, reaching end results quickly and with ease.”

In addition to the mesmerising installation, SketchUp will feature an Airclad pop-up space where visitors to Clerkenwell Design Week can explore SketchUp’s desktop and iPad tools for professional design work. Attendees will have the opportunity to discover millions of pre-built, real-world objects in the 3D Warehouse—an extensive repository that facilitates rapid model development and aids in solving design challenges.