Paul Cocksedge studio

The ‘impossible’ living watercolour

You may well have seen the latest work by designer Paul Cocksedge in connection with new London shopping Mecca, Coal Drops Yard. The new boutique shopping space in King’s Cross has an exciting range of niche design shops – including the flagship headquarters of Tom Dixon – and has opened just in time for the Christmas rush. Paul Cocksedge Studio has been involved to celebrate the opening there of fashion brand COS, the studio has installed Orbits, a sculptural piece which draws contrasts between natural and manmade materials, featuring six pieces of rock suspended by flexible hoops of light.

Paul Cocksedge

For colour-lovers however it is another piece of Paul’s work which is most fascinating – though sadly it is a concept piece only at this point. It is his studio’s proposal for the UK pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, which has been shortlisted as part of a competition organized by the UK government. The designer himself describes his concept of a ‘living watercolour’ as “impossible”. The piece would be made from thousands of layered translucent glass discs, which cast colour onto the walls, floors and spectators in the pavilion, changing moment-to-moment by shifts in the sun and sky.

Paul Cocksedge studio

It is the latest in a long line of design pieces by the studio that are interested in colour and shifting chromatics. His 2014 piece Palette, for example, commissioned by London Design Festival, used overlapping coloured discs to celebrate the historic connections between Britain and Turkey, using colour representative of both country’s flags – a smaller-scale version of the living watercolour idea. NeON, from 2003, played with the colour and light possibilities of a set of suspended, handmade glass vessels filled with natural gas and charged with current. For now Coal Drops Yard is the best place to see some of his work in the flesh – but as for the proposed impossible living watercolours… we’ll keep you posted.

All images by Mark Cocksedges, courtesy of Paul Cocksedge Studio.

Ros Anderson


Ros Anderson is an interiors journalist and blogger who has worked for The Guardian, Elle Decoration, Ideal Home and many more. In 2009 she co-founded cult interiors blog My Friend's House with Jill Macnair, as a place to write about design in a more honest, spontaneous and humorous way.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist