"Performance art" is how Jason Bruges describes Digital Double, the replica of the door at Number 10, Downing Street that goes on show in Shanghai next month as part of UK Trade & Investment’s Great campaign.
When you run your hand – or any object – across the inner side dots of light appear across the sleek black front, taking the shape of whatever is behind and following its movement. Hence the Downing Street cat, Larry, was captured strolling behind the door during a temporary installation at the Prime Minister’s Westminster residence last weekend.
But it is also an object that combines state-of-the-art digital technology and traditional craft. Created by Bruges’s team with furniture-maker Benchmark, the door takes on the exact proportions of the Downing Street door, except the original is made of steel and the replica is of composite set within a tulip wood frame. Interactive LEDs embedded into the door bring it to life when prompted by movement.
Sam Hoey, working now for Benchmark having previously been part of the JBS team, says the door "turns shadow into light". The challenge was to make a black door with sufficient translucency to let the light generated by movement show through. "It took a while to get the right [materials] sandwich," he said.
With its blend of woodcraft techniques and technological innovation, the door’s job is represent the essence of British creativity. Described by Bruges as apolitical, the door to Number 10 is perhaps one of the best known doors globally and the replica sums up the strengths of the nation.
"The brief was to come up with something iconic, but with a twist," said Bruges. "We were asked to create something interactive, but made on purpose for the Great campaign." The door certainly achieves that.
It is destined now to represent Britain across the world. It makes its debut as part of the Great Festival of Creativity in Shanghai’s Long Museum on 2-4 March, before embarking on a tour of 14 other countries.