Sam Martin

February 22, 2022

Senior Project Manager Sam Martin, talks about his experience working on the Courtauld Connect project.

The Blavatnik Fine Rooms at The Courtauld Gallery Photo © David Levene

Factory Settings worked closely with the Courtauld Connects in-house team and the Architects Nissen Richards Studio to develop and refine the exhibition fit out for the Courtauld Connects project. It became clear from the outset that the key to the success of the project would be perfecting the process for engraving the exhibition text onto the Corian panels, which were chosen for all of the wayfinding and contextual graphics. As such, Factory Settings conducted several rounds of samples, focussing on the detail in the engraving and the method and consistency of the infilling of the text, with a number of different products. The initial concept was to fill the text with a hard resin, however it became clear that this would not be viable given the intended text size, and so it was finally settled upon to utilise a hard melted wax, that would flow freely and set quickly into the relatively small text. 

Corian wayfinding panels at The Courtauld Gallery 2021 ©Gareth Gardner

It was also crucial to ensure that the extensive brass metalwork, that was required for all of the ancillary signage and object label holders, was consistent, excellent value, and rapidly available in the event that there were changes to the overall scheme. As such Factory Settings CNC milled and folded the brass sheet in-house, not only streamlining delivery, but also offering excellent value. 

Seating within the Blavatnik Fine Rooms at The Courtauld Gallery Photo © David Levene

The final element of the project was the extensive oak joinery used for seating and also display surfaces. Producing these involved some complex machined profiles that were not commercially available. However Factory Settings were able to machine them in-house to the exact parameters specified by the design team. The crucial nature of Factory Settings handling the majority of the fabrication processes in house became clear as the COVID-19 Pandemic unfolded. The sampling and development process had been ongoing since 2019, however as the full project unfolded, and the base build was interrupted by the delays caused by the pandemic, Factory Settings were able to continue production, and adapt their programme to ensure that the project was still delivered. The minimal reliance on external parties ensured that this was seamless, and ensured that the project could be delivered to the original budget.

Overall the project is an excellent example of the quality and productivity that can be achieved with an open and well specified development period, that is sympathetic to not only the design intent, but also the capabilities and limitations of the chosen materials. Factory Settings are well placed to balance these two sometimes competing forces, by maintaining and developing their extensive in-house capabilities. The final installation for the Courtauld Connects project is a testament to this considered approach to project development and implementation.

Sam Martin

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