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The Decorators is a multidisciplinary design collective founded by Suzanne O’Connell, Xavi Llarch Font, Carolina Caicedo and Mariana Pestana.
Combining the disciplines of landscape architecture, interior architecture and psychology, The Decorators work on spatial design projects that aim to reconnect the physical elements of a place with its social dimension.
As a socially engaged practice they put conversation at the heart of their design process. Driven by the principle that people make places, they create spatial opportunities for social interaction. Through collaborative frameworks that involve many actors, The Decorators imagine alternative futures for everyday spaces.
Their clients include local authorities, housing developers, museums, curators and brands, and their work ranges from context specific community engagement strategies, public realm landscapes, exhibition design to interactive interiors.
Their work in public space is known for its creative approach to community engagement, driven by a concern for finding inclusive ways to create animated places in disconnected parts of a town or city. As a result they have developed a methodology that is about building on the social history and culture of a site to create new experiences that can prompt interaction or shape communal memory.
Amongst their public space projects, Ridley’s turned a derelict square in Ridley Road Market in London into an open kitchen that celebrated the produce of the market and its traders, Chrisp Street on Air developed a programme of events that brought the hidden culture of Chrisp Street out into the public and civic space of the market, Hackney Circle recruited nine local businesses and organisations in and around a public square in East London interested in working to make their businesses more welcoming to older residents.
Why we are excited about Public Age by The Decorators
With Hackney Circle we explored how the high street and the everyday shared public spaces of a neighbourhood could be used to enable intergenerational interaction and bring activities for older people out of community halls and resident care homes and into the public realm.
Evaluation of the project demonstrated that involvement in the Hackney Circle helped members feel that Dalston Square was more accessible, showing the potential this kind of initiative has to help build relationships and connections between older residents and the social and cultural spaces of their neighbourhood.
We have since been looking for an opportunity to develop the work we began with Hackney Circle and the Public Age commission presents the perfect opportunity. In our changing towns and cities, where development seems to be carried out mostly for the young and mobile, it is important to continue work with older people that increases their use of and visibility in public space and enables them to tell a positive story of ageing.
We are also very excited to have this as our first commission in Ireland as Suzanne O’Connell, one of the co-founding members, is from Dublin.