Sabine Marcelis unveiled a collection of ten swivelling marble seats scattered across St Giles Square, commissioned by London Design Festival 2022 to bring the public space to life. In its 20 years, London Design Festival has made it its mission to make design accessible through dynamic installations that encourage the public to discover and interact with design. 

‘The biggest change in the past 20 years has been the audience: there’s been a profound change in their knowledge and enthusiasm for design: it reinforces doing public design stuff,’ says festival director Ben Evans. ‘But visitors [to the London Design Festival] are not all design enthusiasts, they are people who come across it, and we can introduce a design story to them, and trigger something.’

Marcelis’ installation certainly fits the bill: the ‘playground of seats’ features rotating chairs in two-tone marbles defined by candy hues, adding a new layer to the square. 

Sabine Marcelis London Design Festival installation

Sabine Marcelis marble seats at London Design Festival

The aim of the installation, Marcelis notes, is to inject the square with colour and movement. ‘It’s a space of transition, with different entrance and exit points connecting the underground, commercial areas, hospitality, as well as historical sites. I wanted to keep that feeling of movement and transition but simultaneously allow a moment of rest and interaction in this square.’ 

The relatively new square sits behind the recently restored Centre Point, a space of transition, whose monochromatic, grey palette inspired Marcelis to experiment with a plethora of colourful marbles. Her chosen palette features a mix of travertines, quartzite and marbles, with colours ranging from green, red, yellow, blue, to purple, each heavily textured. 

Sabine Marcelis marble seats at London Design Festival, detail of marble

‘This project, as with most of my work, is a celebration of materials,’ comments Marcelis, who in her career has often created striking colour effects with resin, glass and natural stone. ‘I wanted to respond to the space by injecting a bit of colour and fun into this urban environment. Deliberately choosing a natural material in a range of colours, I wanted to create a strong contrast with the surrounding architecture and the man-made material palette.’

The seats are presented in pairs and encourage play and interaction. ‘Sabine developed something that is robust and tough, but has a movement to it and it’s been great to see people come and interact with them,’ continues Evans. 

‘Being an interactive piece, it welcomes audiences to decide how they would like to experience the space,’ adds Marcelis. ‘It could encourage strangers to interact with each other, for friends to sit together or even allow people to create a moment of pause for themselves.’ §