conference

Decorating - New Science Park Conference Centre with Ice-Cream and Tea by Shaun Armstrong

Unilever and Goodman are global businesses, so decorating their new 54,000 sq ft building The Exchange at Colworth Science Park, with bespoke artwork was a fantastic commission.

This building complex features a state-of-the-art innovation hub and research facility plus conference facility supporting high-growth, innovative business in the health and wellness sectors, drawing in expertise from Cambridge and Cranfield Universities and the onsite research power of the Unilever Group. Unilever also sponsor The Unilever Series of high-profile art installations at the Tate Modern.

The plan was to use a mubsta Decorate solution to create a series of unique, abstract artwork pieces that would provide colour and dynamism to the open plan spaces, boardrooms and corridors but, in line with other mubsta projects, be the gateway to stories about underlying innovation and commercialisation heritage, without "branding" it as such. The images would be heritage driven but modern, unique and innovative.

Working directly with various onsite teams, exclusive access was given to their secure operational pilot plants for ice-cream and beverages to view the processes at work and create raw photographic material from which to create a Gallery of abstract pieces. It was important given the patents and intellectual property restrictions to build an  effective working relationship with each section, to avoid photographing certain pieces of equipment and to have all "raw" images content approved.

The processes viewed included trialing a new flavour of "Magnum" ice-cream, a new lolly making machine, tea extraction for a range of ice-teas, new brewing equipment and a visit to their own tea plantation. I also worked with one of Unilever's five global "Discover" facilities to select a few images from their scientific microscopy records.

The raw material was then graded, sorted and a Gallery of abstract bold works created using personal styles and techniques of digital enhancement. A core value of my work is that no distortion to the underlying structure of the images is undertaken so there is a valid link to the content and therefore the story that can be told or evolved. It is about a theme, a view, a selection and creative colour-work.

From the Gallery, the Directorate chose a number of pieces to be used in various spaces and a layout was agreed. In total 26 pieces of artwork were used and each will have an interpretive story to go with it; the feedback from those viewing the pieces so far has been excellent and they have promoted questions, dialogue and opinion in addition to their decorative power. The pieces are high-quality acrylic plus a dynamic covering to two sets of doors in the open-plan area.

The Exchange at Colworth Science Park