Tuesday, 26 October 2010

white night or white horses....

There are a few things that I find particularly exciting about the design process - the sketching, the thinking, but one of the best elements has to be the learning.

I find it such a wasted opportunity when designers (of any discipline) churn out ideas that have already been seen in another guise - surely we get our kicks from thinking up mad, weird and wonderful ways of doing new and exciting things? Maybe it is just me, but when I design I try and touch the moon - then figure out how I am going to build the damned ladder to do it.

Designing is challenging, and we should challenge ourselves (and our clients) every day.

But sometimes, no matter how much you plan, design, learn and invent, things can merrily gallop into your path, causing you to have a change of plan.

And so it is with our White Night proposal.

I planned for an ethereal, glowing and fluctuating installation, drifting and rocking next to the beautifully skeletal West Pier for White Night 2010 - this coming Saturday night. With the expertise and help of others I learnt about the rise and fall depths of the local tide, the natural drift, how to produce a double anchor system that would work with different wind directions, how to launch the boat, how to retrieve it, what a timed swell is and how it could cause our little boat a huge problem.

I learnt about the fishing boats of Brighton and why there aren't many about, the underlying structure (or lack of it) of the West Pier, and how great a high pressure front is and how nasty a low pressure front can be.

But knowledge can sometimes feel like a bad thing, hence the phrase 'ignorance is bliss'. And when I looked at the extremely complicated weather predictions for the West Pier area yesterday, the bits I had learnt showed me something I didn't want to see. A phone call to the wonderfully helpful and patient experts at the Brighton Seafront Office confirmed my fears.

Saturday night would be great if I wanted to do a bit of surfing at 1.00 am, with a 5ft swell over 12 seconds, but not so favourable for a little 1960's timber dinghy, full of wind generated LED's, next to a large and imposing metal structure.

'mini murmurations' will not float for White Night Brighton 2010.

Instead, she will be located on the beach (well above the high tide mark!) with her rods and LED's wafting in the breeze, albeit from a static base.

But Mother Nature is not to be messed with, and I would rather this than be swimming frantically out to the installation at the ungodly hours of the morning trying to stop it smash into the Pier. My risk assessment is complicated enough thank you.

So there we go - all have agreed that the low pressure looks ominous and even though I am a bit miffed, there is not much I can do. Instead, we will float her on another date when the gods of the sea are having a quiet snooze rather than the planned knees up this weekend.

Best laid plans...


  1. Absolutely amazing - whatever transpires (and I may have mis-read this post), all the best for Saturday night.

  2. Great to meet you at last and see the installation - it was worth hauling ourselves off the sofa for even if the starlings had gone AWOL.

    We called in to see the Brighton College carpark giant jellyfish on the way back. Completely mad (or as the Bedsock said "Very Brighton")!