Born in London in 1986, Hannah Gourlay studied a BA in Fashion Design at Kingston University. Since graduating in 2008 she has worked as a multidisciplinary designer across fashion, product, graphic design and illustration. Hannah's work is inspired by geometry and proportion and she is interested in the relationship between fashion and architecture as well as the meanings and preconceptions attached to materials.
She has worked on briefs for fashion brands such as Max Mara and Brooks Brothers, interned with Aquascutum and has created a unique range of chinaware, using a range of her skills from concept to packaging. She hopes to expand into other creative areas and is looking at designing wallpaper and lampshades amongst other products.
Although a Fashion student, Hannah is very interested and inspired by public art. She particularly admires the work of Do Ho Suh, one of her favourite pieces being the ‘Staircase’. She likes the contradiction this piece has between the hard utilitarian structure of stairs, and the use of fragile fabric, which gives the impression of it floating in ethereal space. Hannah says she also finds the London art scene very exciting, where public art is everywhere, from trees wrapped in material, to Anish Kapoor’s forthcoming eccentric towering structure.
In designing the latest iteration of the Big 4 – Time to Breathe - Hannah wanted to create a brief moment of calm in a busy City, a moment to pause for relaxation, reflection and renewal. Her concept sees the Big 4 softly breathe, inhaling and exhaling slowly, at a similar pace to yogic breathing.
To create the installation, each section of the Big 4 is wrapped with a fabric from Dartex Coatings Ltd, more commonly used for NHS bed mattresses, but which in this case was chosen for its ability to stretch sufficiently and then revert to its natural shape. The breathing effect is created by electric fans, which draw in air from the outside. The fans are then turned off and the pre-tension of the fabric pushes the air out. The air is released under pressure from the tensioned fabric and the speed of the release will be controlled by slowing the fan speed down, rather like using a car’s engine to control its speed going down a hill. At night, the 4 will be lit from within to give a gentle glow.
Hannah said: “The Big 4 blends in with the glass and steel surroundings of the striking Channel 4 building and then it gently transmogrifies into playful balloon shapes, which reveal its fabric qualities. Working with Channel 4, FreeState, Atelier One and Architen and seeing the idea develop from my small, rubber-covered model, which I got my housemate to breathe in and out of, was so exciting! The process of having to comprehend the considerable technical and logistical challenges involved in making a 50ft structure ‘breathe’ has been invaluable.”
Hannah Gourlay’s website is at www.hannahgourlay.co.uk