My Cart


BEAUTY & THE BEAST - Getting Intimate with London's Brutal Architecture

Posted on

Love it or otherwise, the Barbican Centre is one of London's most notable architectural landmarks in the City. Exploring the geometric shapes that decorate the skyline, Gina Pipét’s latest collection takes its inspiration from London’s Brutalist icon - The Barbican. Here the designer talks about how she created her intricate patterns based on just a few simple shapes seen within this 80's residential fortress.


Barbican Center Pipet inspiration

Above: Circular fountains and stepping water gardens in the Barbican Centre.


Following a series of architecturally inspired designs based on European cities including Paris, Dusseldorf and Berlin this new collection of prints focuses on something much closer to home. For London based designer Gina Pipét, the inspiration for her intricate patterns were inspired by this towering residential fortress and it's popular cultural centre. 

Built on an area that was heavily bombed during the war the Barbican Estate was designed in the Brutalist style in the 70's by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. The multi level complex with multiple entrances, walkways and public spaces in addition to the residential housing blocks, towers and mews houses opened to the public in 1982 - taking several decades to build.

In addition to the residential estate, the Barbican Centre is used for the arts and entertainment, theatre and dance, visual arts, music school and creative learning.


Pipet Barbican Inspiration Image

 Above: Concrete half pipe water feature and vaulted roofs.

Inspiration for this collection came from the physical elements seen from different viewpoints within the grounds of the Barbican Estate. Using her own photographs, Gina started by dissecting and analysing the imagery into its intrinsic forms, isolating the shapes away from their original existence. The prevalence and continuity of just a small number of basic geometric shapes became apparent within the space. From decorative elements such as the elongated oval door push plates, slatted air vents, circular fountains and round fishbowl lanterns, to the semi-circle column details, the iconic vaulted roofs, and not to mention the impressive curved footprint of Frobisher Crescent itself. 


Pipet Barbican Inspiration Frobisher Crescent

Above: Detail of Frobisher Crescent's Barrel Vaulted Roofs

Pipet Barbican Inspiration Pillars

Above: Fish bowl lanterns and semi circle columns. 

"With camera in hand I explored the virtuous heights and sturdy blocks of the complex residential fortress. Looking inside and out I discovered many hidden aspects, all of which had been carefully designed into the fabric of the building. The pillars, the ventilation, hidden access panels – all necessary elements that have become integral design features." 


Pipet Design Barbican detail

Pipet Design Barbican detail 2

Above and below: Essential details seamlessly integrated in to the Barbican's buildings.

Pipet Design Barbican detail 3


What came from this initial exploration was a series of circles, arches and linear forms - motifs that became the starting points for each of the designs in the collection.


PIPET DESIGN Barbican Scarf sketch inspiration


"Creating a geometric design is a very precise and quite mathematical process. You have to be very meticulous and accurate to create a seamless and perfectly executed pattern. The end product is always very different from the initial sketching phase. The sketch book is a great way to quickly and freely work through ideas, plotting how the elements may work together. Once the basic notion of a design takes shape I then move to digital process, redrawing the elements and motifs that are then used for the repeating patterns within each artwork". Gina Pipét Designer


PIPET DESIGN Barbican Scarf sketch

Above: Initial border sketch for our Barbican Scarf.

From these starting points I observed the form and structure, considering the possible ideals that the architects themselves may have set out to achieve. I looked at ideas of repetition, quantity scale and magnitude. Placing shapes within shapes, scaling and overlaying, flipping and repeating.

Pipet Barbican Inspiration drawings 2

Above and below: Shape development and repetition. Converting CAD Design.

Pipet Barbican Design inspiration 3


Influenced by the likes of Op Art master Vasarely, Grigani, and M.C.Escher I have tried to create an element of intrigue and optical play within each print. Looking at the laws of grouping and arrangement when similar objects sit next to each other, as well as the negative space between shapes can often be more intriguing than the shapes themselves (Lauderdale). 



Each residential block of the estate has a visually different identity, but is unified by the geometric design elements within the architecture. As with the different houses, blocks and towers each print is uniquely named either directly from a very specific physical element, or as a representation of the ideals.

Pipet Barbican Curves

 Above: Roofs. Common elements linking the different housing blocks of the Barbican Estate.

Illusions of perspective and dimensionality (Storey), fluidity and continuity (Bon) rapid movement on the eye (Barbican Scarf), and questioning what is the foreground or background (Frobisher & Barbecana) are all concepts explored with the patterns, each from just a few similar starting points. Discover more about the prints and patterns named above in our blog post: THE BARBICAN PATTERNS - A Visual Identity of Their Own



From 09 Jan - 31 Mar 2018 You can see a selection of Barbican prints, patterns and accessories on show at Cult Vision Eyewear specialists.14 Goswell Rd Clerkenwell London EC1M 7AA.  Underground: Barbican.


Exclusive 10% discount for new members

Join our mission as we champion the latest in creative, sustainable design. Sign up now and enjoy 10% OFF your first order.