SDAWARDS FINALIST: Its Alive! Sculpture embodies digital data from LSM

The Agency of Design are finalists in the Commercial Interior Surface category in the Surface Design Awards 2017, with their amazing digitally augmented sculpture, ‘Living Atlas’.

Living Atlas is a sculpture that reveals the hidden beauty in Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM) day-to-day business. LSM are one of the world’s top specialist insurers, insuring everything from artwork to aircraft.

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The LSM team set a challenging brief; Create a sculptural and adaptable embodiment of LSM’s vast quantities of ever-evolving global data. The piece will occupy the 5.7 x 2.8m wall behind the level 21 reception of their headquarters at 20 Fenchurch Street.

The Agency of Design delivered. Through the abstraction of the Earth’s surface into triangular facets, live and historic data can be explored with a new kind of three-dimensional pixel. This leads to a ‘living’ surface, inviting the viewer to explore LSM’s data with an aesthetic that blurs boundaries of what we perceive as physical and digital.

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Corian panels were digitally cut and carefully hand finished to create the faceted 3D surface. Animations and textures magically appear by using a high-resolution projector exactly mapped to the faceted surface. The physical surface looks beautiful and complete with or without projection; meeting a key requirement to be able to ‘switch off’ data.

Animations were conceived through a series of creative workshops with the LSM exposure management team, helping to foster a sense of ownership and collaboration over the piece. The Agency of Design built completely custom software to bring these ideas to life, something which became a massive creative and technical endeavour.

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Final animations included hundreds of flight paths, millions of insured locations, and 100 years of storm path data to name but a few. It also features a ‘current storm’ animation that references a web-based dataset of live GPS storm locations.

The physical surface was designed in conjunction with the animation code using custom developed parametric CAD software. The Corian fabrication was completed by Cutting-Edge who also used a custom parametric software to get particularly sharp vertices on the facet edges. Previously thought to be beyond the limits of CNC, this piece may be unique as machines cannot normally be operated in this way.

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About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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