Expanding Space

a workshop with 3D Designers Charlotte Kingsnorth and Will Yates-Johnson


Expanding Space

A workshop with 3D Designers Charlotte Kingsnorth and Will Yates-Johnson

Challenge: to create the largest space from the smallest package.

Charlotte and Will, practicing designers based in London, set a challenge to lower sixth art students in Headington School: to construct the biggest space from the smallest package. Using very thin mirrored plastic sheeting called ‘space blankets’, employed by NASA and marathon runners for heat retention, I explored what space might mean, as well as how to create so much from so little. The day began with a simple exercise in pairs to create a large cube with a hole in one side. Taken outdoors, wind filled the cubes until full, when the pair crawled in and closed the hole. Hey presto! A space is formed. In the afternoon, we dived headlong into the challenge, finding locations to inhabit in and around the art department. The workshop ended with each pair performing a magic trick: transforming their small, lifeless package into a large and exciting space.

Create the largest space from the smallest package.

On the start of the day, we are given different materials to explore, including paper bags and foil blanket. Foil blanket has some very interesting properties. It is light, small, thin and translucent. It comes in a tiny packet yet lays out flat and large. I think some of the disadvantages of this material is its rigidity and strength, which makes foil blanket not a preferred material to build structural objects or space as it is not flexible and does not holds weight nicely. It can be creased easily yet it is extremely difficult to tear it from its original state.

We are then grouped into pairs in order to create the largest space from the 6 packets of foil blankets given. I am paired with Betty, a friend in my art class. As there are 6 sheets of foil blankets, we figured out we could make a cube as it is made out of 6 identical faces. But, the blankets come in a rectangular shape, which is not what we want. Therefore, Betty suggested first connecting 4 pieces of them together creating a hollow prism, then taping the remaining 2 on each side of the prism, creating a shape that some-how looks like a dumbbell. We then cut a hole in the middle of it allowing air to goes in to create a space/tent like shape. Taking our creation out in the field and actually trying to let the wind blow in, we discovered the hole is too small and it is very challenging to keep the whole thing stable. Thus, I immediately increase the size of hole in order to create a larger entrance for the wind to enter. Another issue is that small holes kept appearing as we didn't tape the pieces together perfectly. Betty and I help each other to cover the holes with tape. This solves the problem temporarily, as the wind gets so strong later it damage the whole creation, ripping it apart.

Explore through wrapping, inflation, draping, joining and tension.

After the first experiment, we are asked to create a more complexed and different space, either independent or create within a specific room.


Will Yates-Johnson - Will is a multidisciplinary artist and designer whose work occupies a space between art and science. He graduated from MA Design Products at the Royal College of Art having previously studied architecture at the University of Nottingham. Notable works include his break-and-remake project Polyspolia and two recent permanent installations for the Science Museum.

Charlotte Kingsnorth is an industrial artist, melding together the practical and the fantastical. The objects she produces demonstrate her preoccupation in materiality and biomorphic forms. In 2012 she graduated from the Royal College of Art and set up Charlotte Kingsnorth Studio. She has since worked with clients including Bill Gates, Fendi, SHOWstudio, Christies, and continues to develop work which is widely acclaimed, published and exhibited internationally.

A workshop provided by www.storeprojects.org