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Designing a Future Piano

I am looking at how the piano, a historic and iconic instrument, can be made to fit more appropriately into our modern lives. It seeks to retain the acoustic grand piano with all of its richness of sound and its impressive, monumental stance, whilst also making it a less cumbersome instrument. We aim to radically rethink how a piano works and looks.

In October 2017, ten years after having the idea, I got funding from Innovate UK, to undertake detailed design/engineering work on a really new kind of piano. My project will be familiar to all of you who have seen my piano-endeavours over the last decade but this took my idea onto a whole new level, working with outstandingly creative and technical people to bring it closer to becoming something real. I led a team including Keechdesign UK, Jigsaw Structures, the National Composites Centre and piano builder extraordinaire, David Klavins (his super-light UC piano will be known to some of you and, through pianist Nils Frahm, you might also have heard his impressive pianos at the other end of the scale). Keechdesign UK are a leading London-based design company led by talented brothers Tristram Keech, former Design Director at Conran & Partners and David Keech, who was the first non-Japanese designer to join Yamaha’s creative team in Hamamatsu. Jigsaw Structures are Tim Evans and Chris Vaissiere, experts in how to put different materials together and finally, the National Composites Centre is like a dream aeroplane hangar of materials possibilities where, just maybe, my piano might get built one day… 🙂

We talked to around 70 people to get views on existing pianos, what it could be, the constraints it currently has (especially musically or logistically).

The team has now focused and, with Jigsaw Structures and David Klavins, we are hoping that 2019 might see the build of our first lightweight prototype.

Please just drop me a line, tweet, etc with the #futurepiano if you’d like to be part of this conversation.

Library of Water, Iceland: a residency

Freezing to boiling, falling, melting and everything in between, Iceland is about water. Looking at it, being in it, being awestruck by its many magical and hugely powerful forms. It surrounds, heals and enters your thinking, making you fluid with the environment; everything that exists because of it, in it, is all of history.

I had an amazing artistic residency in Iceland with my 5-year-old son in the summer of 2017. We were invited to stay at the incredible Library of Water in Stykkisholmur, a building transformed by artist Roni Horn and commissioned by Artangel, which looks out to the serenely gorgeous and translucent Icelandic sea. Upstairs, Roni Horn’s installation of glacial columns and volcanic words inspired us while we played chess, whilst seeing the utterly mind-blowing sights of Iceland (here, my new favourite place on earth: the ‘ice lagoon’ Jokulsarlon) transported us through the raw landscape to muse on a geographical time scale.  Thanks to Frida Ingvarsdottir for enabling me to have this experience and I look forward to seeing how it comes out in my work.