WHAT WE DO

LINKING OLD AND NEW

we bring together the best of the best

These sweeping stairs are now the central focus of a Grade II-listed home in Marylebone, London.

This was a collaborative project between architects Waind Gohil + Potter, structural engineers Webb Yates, and PipSqueak. To deliver this unique centrepiece, we commissioned experts in fields as diverse as welding, museum display-lighting and leatherwork.

 

PipSqueak are "inventive, resourceful, collaborative and highly competent."
[James Potter, partner WG+P Architects]

The lightest of touches
The lightest of touches

A prime requirement for this project was that the new staircase made as little contact as possible with the walls of its Grade II-listed home.

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Complex curves
Complex curves

We had the plywood stair treads custom made to match the client's oak floor.

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Work in progress
Work in progress

Getting this staircase into place was an eye-of-the-needle job, so top-grade assembly welding was needed.

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Leather for the stair rail
Leather for the stair rail

We brought in one of the country's leading leatherworkers to create the perfect result shown here.

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PERSONAL STORIES

new lamps from old

One of our recent jobs sounded like a line from Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp: creating new lamps from old. 
"I have two old street lights that I love," our client explained. "I've even found Victorian cast-iron wall-mounts for them. The trouble is, I need more lamps and mounts to match them. Eight more, in fact." Architectural salvage companies across the UK had drawn a blank, which was when PipSqueak got called in. 

The original lamps were, of course, made of cast iron. For the eight reproductions we chose aluminium instead - so the new lamps and mounts weigh 60% less than their 19th-century parents. This means they can be fitted to a larger range of walls without extra support.

Traditional sand-casting gave our new lamps and mounts a perfect Victorian look, despite the modern material. Once finished and hand-painted, even we could only tell them apart by hefting them!

A perfect finish
A perfect finish

The highest-quality CNC machining gives the crisp edges we need for the fonts here.

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The original plaque dates from 1912
The original plaque dates from 1912

Now inextractably engulfed by the roots of its tree!

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Marking place and time
Marking place and time

A plaque created to outlast the Pin Oak tree it marks.

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3D-printed plaque prototype
3D-printed plaque prototype

Nothing beats being able to hold and see a real object.

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FANTASTIC PHENOMENA

we bring the impossible to life

"Pumpkin Man" - a fairytale giant built to survive all weathers for six weeks and then vanish without trace  

 

Many of PipSqueak's commissions are for sensitive sites, so we are used to working in and around listed buildings and historic monuments. It's still a treat to be faced with a challenge like this one: to design and install the massive centrepiece for an autumn display at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Kew is one of only 17 World Heritage Sites in England. Among its glories are its trees; many precious and rare. No installation can disturb or damage their roots - just one of a host of considerations we had to take into account in our design, which used reversible ground anchors.

Part of Pumpkin Man's instant appeal to the public was that we designed him to be installed overnight. At the end of the festival we did the same trick in reverse, so by dawn he had vanished without trace.  Magic!

Dead Blow
Pumpkin Man

Striding across the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Pumpkin Man was an ephemeral vision built to be removed without trace from this extraordinary and fragile World Heritage Site.

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Dead Blow
SolidWorks render of Pumpkin Man

This render was not only vital to show our client, but also so we could consult with the expert who grew all the pumpkins for this extraordinary sculpture - including a massive "Atlantic Giant" variety for Pumpkin Man's head.

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Dead Blow
Floodlit, he's even more dramatic!

From this angle you can see the supports which we designed to support each individual pumpkin: to survive six weeks on display it was essential that their skins remained undamaged.

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Nasmyth hammers in action
The seed of a great idea...

All Pipsqueak's projects grow and develop, but Pumpkin Man is one of our most extraordinary. He was also exceptional in that after the display was over, his frame was recycled, his ground-anchors removed and reused, and the pumpkins eaten!

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PUBLIC STATEMENTS

we make landmarks that tell stories

At its best, public art should be utterly rooted in its chosen site, telling a story that belongs to its people and place.


To bring sculptor Robert Erskine's work "Dead Blow" to life in Openshaw, Manchester, we teamed up with skilled local metalworkers. They were more used to making JCB parts than fine art but were excited to be part of a project paying homage to the Nasmyth steam hammer, which was created in Manchester and powered the Industrial Revolution.

One of our tasks was to design the sculpture in such a way that it could be entirely manufactured and assembled in a workshop just a few minutes' walk from where "Dead Blow" is now proudly on show.

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Dead Blow
Dead Blow

It was important to reproduce the scribbled surface of the artist's original sketch.

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Dead Blow
Dead Blow

is Robert Erskine's sculptural homage to the Nasmyth steam hammer.

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Dead Blow
Dead Blow

Installing public art of this size is not a task to be undertaken lightly!

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Nasmyth hammers in action
Nasmyth hammers in action

Developed in Manchester, James Hall Nasmyth's hammers made the Industrial Revolution possible.

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