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Designer Sebastian Conran has created an outstanding work of art crafted from the nose of Concorde. The sculpture, aptly named ICON, has taken years of work, vision, persistence, experimentation and triumph culminating in piece that celebrates man’s conquering of supersonic flight through British design and engineering ingenuity.
Voted the number one British design icon of the 20thcentury by visitors to the Design Museum and viewers of BBC television’s ‘The Culture Show’, Concorde’s design, its conquer of supersonic flight and its internationally recognised ‘drooped nose’ tilted nose have long been remembered in British history.
The story of ICON starts in 2006 when the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge sold a Concorde nose and visor assembly to raise funds for the museum. The nose was from arguably the most important Concorde airframe, the sixth airframe, which was used for the most comprehensive ground-test programme ever mounted for any civil aeroplane. This series of the aircraft was subjected to fatigue testing that for the first time included the heating and cooling of the complete airframe to represent supersonic flight. These tests proved to engineers that the supersonic aircraft would be suitable for commercial use, and in 1976 Concorde embarked on its first commercial flight from London to Bahrain.
At seven metres long and three metres high this Concorde nose provided a huge challenge to transport, handle and store. Working with a specialized team the nose was restored back to its former glory and it quickly became apparent how fascinated the general public were by Concorde’s rich history. As a result the project swiftly progressed from what was a simple restoration to the creation of a piece of art – a sculpture for public display.
Sebastian Conran was brought onboard in February 2007 to create a stunning and thoughtful piece to inspire for generations to come. Known for his passion for design and with an inherent creativity and imagination with both product and engineering design, Sebastian creates things of beauty and functionality. The development of the Concorde was an important piece of Sebastian’s childhood and teenage years; encouraging his love for aircrafts and engineering. This enthusiasm culminated with leading the design team at Conran & Partners who had been commissioned by British Airlines to design the last interiors of the Concorde fleet.
Weighing in at 5 tonnes, the ICON sculpture is a considered piece, intended to be graceful but with the raw energy and power associated with the residual memories of Concorde’s supersonic flight. Highlighting the different dimensions of this sculpture, a combination of mirrored and matt surfacing on the piece fully showcases the shape of the design. The highly polished steel base on which it stands, reflects an Iconic image of the nose and its surroundings, basking the nose in light and the reflections change constantly as one walks around the piece, providing the observer with several prospective of the piece.
After many months of work, involving a team of highly skilled craftsmen, an aerospace engineer, Sebastian’s own trusted design team and over six weeks of hand polishing, the result is a sculpture boasting dramatic shapes and forms to be admired from every angle.
ICON will be on public display at Royal Ascot, Tuesday 18– Saturday 22June 2013
Visit www.thestoryoficon.com to find out more about the sculpture.