Where the trouble began

If anyone were to ask me what my influences were, after I’d finished laughing I would probably come up with the usual – Piranesi, Gilbert Scott, Borges, Calvino, Banham, Soane, Paolozzi – but the shameful fact is that perhaps the single biggest influence on my whole trajectory so far has been Pieter Brueghel’s uber-famous image of the Tower of Babel. So perhaps it’s not so surprising that the thing that struck me hardest about Vaux le Vicomte (1) was not the harmonious proportions of the house, nor the geometrically calming effect of the garden, nor even the weirdo video-waxwork exhibits inside (on which more later) but these:

I guess they’re 19th century: there’s a whole cabinet of them in the basement kitchens of the chateau, and they are just magical. Some recall The Tower (and I picture them shivering into ruin, like the Tarot card), others look like exotic bits of machinery out of Metropolis;

like oilmen’s drill bits or car gear transmissions. At least one looks like a submarine data cable, its delicate fibre core surrounded by shark-proof high tension wire and corrosion-proof cladding.

Really, between the Brueghellian sweep of the power station cooling tower and the foursquare citadels that haunt my dreams you really don’t need to know any more about me as a designer than can be found right here. And at last, and belatedly, I understand my truer, deeper calling.

I was born to make jelly moulds.

1) of all right then. Vaux le Vicomte:


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