Innovative Architectural Design at Institute of Modern Art [English Only]

The new Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) opened in January 2007 to bring together the town’s contemporary fine art collections. Housed in a £14.2m landmark building by Erick van Egeraat Associated Architects MIMA features five exhibition galleries, several project and event spaces, plus a café and shop.

Designed by artist Andrew Miller in conjunction with Colin Williams Design, the dramatic retail store design, which forms part of the vast foyer, features an installation made with Corian® solid surface. Playing both an aesthetic and a practical role, Corian® solid surface in Nocturne was specified to create sculptural, angular display units and a service desk.

Andrew Miller explains: “I was commissioned by MIMA to create a permanent art installation in the retail area of the new building. I took initial inspiration from the architectural drawings and the angles where the exterior wall and hanging wall cross, which are both slightly off the angle of the glass façade.

“I wanted to make a space that could be used, but which also spoke of the artistic nature and purpose of the building. I wanted the geometry of this space to subtly reflect the surrounding architecture and also to challenge the perceptions of a normal retail space and to deal with it as a sculptural form. I worked closely with retail experts Colin Williams Design, the appointed design consultants, to consider all the functional aspects and to source materials. They suggested Corian® solid surface in Nocturne and it immediately appealed to me as it has a solidity that fit with the dense, black form with monolithic look I had envisioned.

“It also has a great reputation as being a very workable material and I liked the fact that it could be installed in a way that it almost becomes invisible where you join it. In practical terms, for a retail store design, the durability was also a factor.” 

MIMA’s director Godfrey Worsdale says: “We wanted a retail area that was also a work of art in its own right and which would be a continuum of the modern art experience. The end result is a fascinating and unique space that will add significantly to the visitor experience.”

Colin Williams says: “The marriage of art and design is a fascinating debate and this has been an intriguing and fruitful project. I believe that we have created a retail store design that works both commercially and artistically. With our knowledge and experience of Corian® solid surface it was the obvious material to suggest to Andrew, in that it would meet both the aesthetic and the practical criteria.”

Corian® was specified for display spaces, museums and galleries. Its design versatility and performance properties make it well-suited for high-traffic public environments that require innovative architectural design. Corian® can be found at the V&A, Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, Kelvin Grove in Glasgow, the Museum of Childhood in London, Hadrian’s Wall museum, and many more prestigious locations.

MIMA has hosted exhibitions for painting, drawing, ceramics, jewellery design, sound, film, mixed media, photography and sculpture, from the 1900s to the present, and features the work of internationally acclaimed artists. The building has a height of 16.5 m, a length of 30m and a depth of 20m.

Colin Williams Design is a creative consultancy dedicated to nurturing great ideas. Fifteen years of experience in all aspects of interior design and retail design is supported by expertise in graphic design, a full range of architectural services, and project management. Colin Williams Design has also designed the office and educational space at MIMA, advised on internal signage, and coordinated the procurement of furniture for the public spaces. 

Andrew Miller is an artist. Many of his previous projects have been in collaboration with architects and he is fascinated by how people use space. His works include a library at CCA7 in Trinidad and the bookshop of the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh.

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