Leaving no trace at LDF 19: The making of the Life Labyrinth

Credit: Andy Stagg

At this year’s London Design Festival visitors were invited to experience a meditative walking experience: the Life Labyrinth. Designed to be 100% recyclable, this is a leading example of an installation created to leave no trace.

Located right outside Westminster Cathedral, the Life Labyrinth was set out as a destination for creative contemplation, reconnection and positive intention amidst the hustle and bustle of London life.

The installation was commissioned by London Design Festival, designed by PATTERNITY, supported by Victoria and Victoria Westminster Business Improvement Districts, and brought to life by Materialise Creative Design.

One of the objectives of the brief was that the installation could be recycled or repurposed afterwards. When it came to sourcing sustainable materials to meet the brief, they discovered Tarkett’s iQ Optima flooring and surface covering.

Here, Tarkett’s Technical Director, Ross Dight, shares some behind-the-scenes insights into the making of this innovative and sustainable design.

Credit: Andy Stagg

Credit: Andy Stagg

Credit: Andy Stagg

Credit: Andy Stagg

How did you first get involved in this project?

"Materialise Creative Design reached out to Tarkett as they were looking for a sustainable surface covering to bring PATTERNITY’s design to life. They had spotted one of our recyclable iQ ranges at Milan Design Week, and thought it would be a good fit for the job.

"As part of their design brief, t​hey needed a material that would be durable enough to withstand the outdoor weather conditions, flexible enough to be bent and stretched over the framework structure and stylish enough to provide a finish that would appeal to the architecture and design audience attending.

"The product also needed to complement the surroundings. The bold design was created to reflect the brickwork of Westminster Cathedral and the communal seating pays homage to the geometries of the Cathedral’s architecture.

"Most importantly of all, they needed to be sure that whatever product they picked could be recyclable at the end of the show. Too often, installations end up thrown into general waste following the event, and they wanted to avoid this at all costs."

What was the solution?

"Our homogeneous iQ product suited the brief perfectly. The installation requirements meant we needed a product that would form perfectly around the benches.

"We worked in close collaboration with the talented team at Material Creative Design, exploring various options within the iQ family. In the end, we chose the iQ Optima collection due to its extreme durability, superior wear and bold colour palette which satisfied all of the design requirements. With the level of intricacy required for the precise cutting, wrapping and forming around the benches, the credentials of this product supported a seamless installation.

"With over 60 years of eco-innovation and sustainability, all products in Tarkett’s iQ collection are designed in accordance with the principles of the circular economy to contribute positively to the environment and people’s well-being.

Credit: Andy Stagg

Credit: Andy Stagg

Credit: Andy Stagg

Credit: Andy Stagg

"The flooring is 100% recyclable and phthalate-free and contributes to better air quality by generating very low VOC emissions – up to 100 times below the most stringent European regulations.

"The iQ products are also suitable for Tarkett’s own recycling program, ReStart®, whereby clean leftover material is collected through partnerships with collection networks, before being processed in one of Tarkett’s internal recycling centres. This made it the perfect solution for the LDF installation."

Were there any challenges along the way?

"The team had to work fast to get the installation ready in time for London Design Festival. Our Technical & Installation Advisor, David Brown, led the installation with a third party contractor. The team’s expertise ensured a very smooth and seamless installation process.

"Grooving and heating on each corner/edge was the most intricate part of the process, but once we found our rhythm it was then ensuring we hit the deadline... which, of course, the team did."

Were you happy with the finished piece?

"The team is extremely proud of the final outcome and it’s fantastic to see Tarkett playing such an integral part in creating such an immersive experience for visitors throughout LDF 2019.

"And the story doesn’t end there: we are working on plans to showcase some of the elements of the Life Labyrinth at our London Showroom in the not too distant future. So, for anyone who didn’t make it to LDF, there will be a second chance to experience the installation - albeit, on a slightly smaller scale!"