London Grilling with Christian Spencer Davies
Today we’ve got an especially insightful and fascinating Grilling with London-based designer, Christian Spencer-Davies.
Founder of AMODELS, a prestigious architectural design company, Christian really lives and breathes a life of creativity.
“In brief, I studied industrial design engineering at the Central School of Art, about 100 years ago. From there I went on to work for Terence Conran as a design for about 4 years before deciding to change direction focusing on making. This naturally led to product model-making and eventually I found architecture which has become my passion. I founded AMODELS nearly 20 years ago and in that time we had completed over 3000 projects.
I have had the privilege of working with many talented model-makers though the years but I guess I’m the only one that’s been there from the start.”
Firstly, tell us a little bit about Amodels and the work you do.
AMODELS has been going for nearly 20 years and we specialise specifically in contemporary architecture model making, which ever so occasionally crosses the line into art and installation, particularly where exhibitions are involved, like, for example, the Venice Architecture Biemale.
Can you give us some insight into your most recent project, a cycling-themed art installation in Clerkenwell, for the Olympics?
Following our first solo exhibition in the DOMUS showroom and gallery during Clerkenwell Design Week, I was invited to suggest a possible art work installation for the wall opposite the gallery, which has the traces of a demolished house clearly showing in particular four fire places. After about a week’s consideration I had almost come to the conclusion that I couldn’t think of anything appropriate and suddenly it dawned on me that the Olympics is coming and I’m very excited about the prospects of Team GB in the cycling in particular. So I spoke to the client over a very nice lunch and said I would be delighted as long as I could it for the Olympics. They said yes. Game on.
What’s the most unique and challenging work(s) you’ve created, to date?
This was a very unusual installation for the Venice Architecture Biennale where we were asked by Will Alsop to make an engaging model/installation describing his masterplan for Barnsley imagined as a Tuscan hill town in the most provocative and exciting way. Our own goal was to simply make something striking enough that in the context of such a huge exhibition people would stop for more than three seconds to consider Barnsley. Our response, to cut a long story short, which is only possible because of our strong and close working relationship was to build a very large map with all the surrounding existing building, all in clear acrylic which was suspended above your head and then viewed through a series of 27 periscopes. In particular this gave it a very tactile and playful quality.
The nature of the architecture itself was also a quite extraordinary result of the collaboration between us and Alsop’s. Together we created sculptural objects to fill the masterplan suggesting eclectic variety of buildings.
Some of my favourite buildings became known as, the ferret, the mad cow, the chip shop and the battleship.
As someone immersed in the design of contemporary architecture, what do you make of East Village, as an architectural model and as London’s newest neighbourhood?
It seems very nice. I have been to a couple of lectures about the development and we have built models of the Chobham Academy by AHMM.
What is your favourite piece of London architecture (we won’t be offended if you don’t say East Village) and why?
I’m very excited about the Olympic Velodrome. Again, I’ve seen it described in great detail by various people involved at a couple of lectures and I have actually been there and experienced a bike race, and I must say that it is completely stunning and it also seems extraordinarily efficient. My only disappointment is not being able to get any tickets but I guess I’m not the only one.
What model installation pieces can we look forward to seeing, in the near future?
Quite simply, we almost never know what we’re doing in any more than two weeks time. So who knows? The other story that I probably haven’t told you is that in the spirit of my passion for cycling, the Olympics coming to London and the frustration with not being able to buy any ticket, I have decided to make my own venue to enjoy all the Olympic cycling and even the end of the Tour de France with my friends.
Click on this link for more information about this exciting project.