The annual Lord Mayor’s Show has been a major fixture in London’s cultural calendar for over 800 years. It has been referenced in Samuel Pepys’ diaries, the work of Shakespeare, and perhaps most famously in Canaletto’s paintings. James Bond even pays a visit to the Show in Ian Fleming’s novel ‘Dr. No’.

It was really exciting therefore to be invited to work with the charity Open City, in collaboration with Canary Wharf Group, to design a float for the 2017 Lord Mayor’s Show.

Open City are marking their 25th anniversary this year, and as part of the celebrations they had asked the public to vote for their favourite 25 buildings which featured in their Open House weekend. This annual pan-London event sees over 800 buildings across the capital, that are not normally accessible, open their doors to visitors. The public’s selection, which featured the Gherkin, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Royal Festival Hall amongst others, forms an important part of Open City’s branding. Each of the buildings has been represented as a green-hued 2 dimensional ‘icon’ which will feature in their printed materials, website, and even t-shirts. Combining this idea of iconic London buildings, along with Open City’s mission to make architecture accessible and ‘humanised’ was the starting point for our design.   

We also took inspiration from the rich history of combining architecture and costume. Notable examples include the 1931 Beaux Arts Ball in New York, which saw architects dress as their creations. Perhaps the most memorable was William Van Alen, who took on the guise of his Chrysler Building. We therefore turned each of the 25 buildings into a costume, to be worn by Open City volunteers during the parade. Costumes consisted of monochromatic laser-cut masks in the same shade of green as the new branding, and black waterproof capes (it is London in November after all!). The float itself featured a stylised city skyline, which formed a protective edge to the rear of a flat-bed truck. It travelled around the parade route while the volunteers created a number of live ‘capriccios’.

Location: London
Client: Open City + Canary Wharf Group
Value: £10,000
Status: Complete November 2017.