Caruso St John Architects

2008–2010
Location: London, GB
Client: Frieze Art Fair
Project Status: Exhibition Design

The tent that houses the Frieze Art Fair is more or less fixed by the area available in Regent’s Park and by the number and layout of the galleries. The task for the architect is to have ideas for the entrance and special areas within the Fair, so that each year has it own distinctive character. We designed the Fair for three years, between 2008-2010. Our starting point was to strip certain things back, removing the scrim ceiling, for instance, so that one can appreciate the repetitive structure of the huge tents, giving more height and sense of orientation to the interior. We also made the entrance face of tent 1 more transparent, so that one catches glimpses of the brilliantly lit interior when approaching the Fair.

A lot of our efforts have been concentrated on the entrance from the park, trying to make a real place where one’s anticipation of the Fair would be built up, where you could queue for tickets or sit on a bench and wait for friends.  Each year, this entrance sequence has been designed to accommodate one of the Frieze Projects, works by Jeppe Hein, Ryan Gander and Matthew Darbyshire. Another of our innovations was to make the Frieze sign into a freestanding structure. Each year the sign has gotten bigger, and higher, with 2010’s 18 metre mast being clearly visible from the north end of Park Crescent. The design of the VIP room has involved collaborations with different furniture companies in each of the three years, Established and Sons, Artek and Molteni. Kvadrat have also provided fabric for curtains and upholstery.