Digital Double - Jason Bruges Studio


As part of the GREAT Britain campaign, Jason Bruges Studio worked with Benchmark to create a digital version of the iconic Number 10 door for one morning in February


Blueprint

All Photography: Amy Parton

There is one door that is more famous than all the others in the UK - the black, highly glossy, six-panelled entrance to Number 10 Downing Street. In fact, there are actually two Number 10 doors - a spare is kept in storage and regularly swapped with the bomb-proof, steel original during periods of housekeeping. And, for one brief morning in February, there was also a third door, this time an ingenious, blink-and-you'll-miss-it art installation designed by Jason Bruges Studio.

This playful, facsimile door, created with West Berkshire-based furniture manufacturer Benchmark, captured movements inside Number 10 and translated them as silhouettes and low-resolution animations on the outer surface of the door. One example included Number 10 resident Larry the cat stalking past, while another showed a policeman coming to answer the door.

A bespoke digital veneer made of photodiodes and LEDs lines each side of the door at Number 10
A bespoke digital veneer made of photodiodes and LEDs lines each side of the door at Number 10

The project is part of the GREAT Britain campaign that aims to promote and showcase the best of the UK internationally. 'We were really trying to find sites or opportunities that would be globally iconic and someone mentioned the door,' says Jason Bruges. 'At the time, I thought, wow, how likely is that going to be?

But, it was really interesting to see how the hybrid of technology and craft worked together. That's something which makes it quite British - that twist on the traditional.'

Jason Bruges tests out the door for himself
Jason Bruges tests out the door for himself

A bespoke, digital veneer, comprised of photodiodes and LEDs, on each side of the painstakingly crafted, replica door senses the amount of light and shadow inside Number 10. A Raspberry Pi - a credit card-sized, single-board computer nominated for the Design Museum's Design of the Year 2013 - then processes that information and plays back a low-resolution image on the outside of the door. 'You can't actually see the material behind the surface, it just looks like the same glossy paint as the rest of the door,' says Bruges.

The door stood in place for just one morning in February and took 10 minutes to install.
The door stood in place for just one morning in February and took 10 minutes to install

'When it's off, it sits right back and looks like the real thing - a very nice replica - but the next moment, it's like this breathing, living thing.'

Number 10’s cat Larry tries to see what all the commotion is about

Following its whistle-stop debut, the installation will next appear at the Great Festival of Creativity at Shanghai's Long Museum in March, before forming part of a year-long touring exhibition of specially commissioned GREAT creations that will include a one-off Aston Martin and a set of portraits of the Queen by David Bailey to promote British business, tourism and education abroad. This, along with being on the UK Trade and Investment's Creative Taskforce, is already proving to have an effect on Jason Bruges' own work, with projects coming up in North America, China and the Middle East. Back, closer to home, however, the residents of Number 10 may be regretting that the installation wasn't there for a little longer. Adds Bruges,

The door in action — Larry the cat stalks past
The door in action -- Larry the cat stalks past

'Some of the staff at Number 10 were really excited by it and took it as a compliment. They even jokingly asked if we could leave it there!'





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