New Tower of Babel reflects London consumerism

A new piece at the V&A suggests a hierarchy in British society

The latest installation to hit the V&A is a six metre high reworked Tower of Babel crafted from bone china and thousands of London shops.


The artist Barnaby Barford photographed over 6,000 real London shop fronts to create the masterpiece, cycling over 1,000 miles to visit every London postcode.


The piece is on display from Tuesday 8 September 2015 and can be found in the museum's Medieval and Renaissance Galleries until 1 November 2015. The tower is part of the esteemed London Design Festival, 19 - 27 September 2015.


The photographs have been created as ceramic transfers and then fired onto fine bone china to depict each 13cm tall store, of which there are 3,000.


Barford placed derelict store fronts at the base of the tower, with more exclusive boutiques and luxury shops as it reaches its pinnacle. Each of the unique ceramic pieces will be available to purchase through the V&A Shop, with more affordable prices at the base and rising with the tower.


The idea was to reflect Britain's pastime of shopping, suggesting a correlation of fulfilment through consumerism with the biblical Tower of Babel's attempt to reach heaven.


Describing the installation, Barford said:

'This is London in all its retail glory, our city in the beginning of the 21st century and I'm asking, how does it make you feel? I am overjoyed to be exhibiting in one of the world's greatest museums; it is fantastic to have the opportunity to explore our contemporary society in such historic surrounds.'


Alun Graves, Senior Curator of the Ceramics and Glass collection at the V&A says of the work:

'The Tower of Babel is an act of curated commerce. It's about retail as a pastime... shopping as a means (or not) to attain happiness. How we identify ourselves as consumers. Ultimately it's about who we are, and where we position ourselves in the extraordinary metropolis that is London.'


Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, V&A
When: 8 September - 1 November 2015
Price: Free

Read more:

Sweating walls concept: The future of air conditioning?

Sandcastles on Mars

Jet-inspired chair deemed 'bulletproof'

Working on something exciting? Submit your project to Design Curial.

Submit project to DesignCurial

Compelo Ltd Registered Office: John Carpenter House, John Carpenter Street, EC4Y 0AN, England. No: 06339167.Copyright 2019 Compelo. All rights reserved.