2014 London Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design



Project Overview

Tile Mile was a playful and engaging temporary installation at Clerkenwell Design Week 2014 that transformed the iconic Grade I Listed St John’s Gate into a space of infinite reflection.

For the short duration of the festival, the designers russ + henshaw used over 50sqm of parallel mirrors on the inner walls of the arched landmark, and over 7,200 tiles on the floor, to create the optical illusion of an infinite vibrantly patterned pathway extending beyond the mirrors and diminishing into the distance.

The Tile Mile inspired interest and intrigue; inviting the general public as well as festival goers’ to interact with the installation whilst reminding them of the beauty within the city fabric that they navigate daily. By creating something fun and unique on a busy thoroughfare in the heart of Clerkenwell, the installation opened up the festival to the general public and the local community.

Project Commissioner


Project Creator

russ + henshaw


Client: Turkishceramics

Client Representative: ING-Media

Architects: russ + henshaw
Design collaborative between Architects Lianne Russ and Philip Henshaw

Specialist Fabricator: setWorks
Manufacturing company specialising in making bespoke objects and environments

Structural Engineers: Constant Structural Design

3D Laser Survey: SES - Site Engineering Services Ltd

Tiling: Colin Barber

Project Brief

Tile Mile was conceived to celebrate both the products of Turkishceramics and reflect the built heritage of Clerkenwell.

The vision was to create an intervention that would place a focus on St. John’s Gate, a spectacular example of medieval design and engineering, and to innovatively showcase Turkish ceramic tiles.

russ + henshaw were influenced by Turkey's rich heritage of Iznic ceramics and used the principles of the traditional patterns to create a modern interpretation. The result was a vibrant and intricate 33sqm tiled floorscape composed of 16 triangular segments set out to reflect the ribbed vault overhead.

Large 6.0m high parallel mirrors on the inner walls of the arch reflected both the bold design of the floor and the double vaulted arch of the historic structure above, creating the illusion of an endless crypt like space reminiscent of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. Upon stepping into the arch, visitors and passers-by alike experienced the appearance of a multi-coloured pathway through a vaulted colonnade to a place and space beyond the mirrors.

Project Innovation/Need

From the original client brief, ‘to visually communicate how innovative and versatile Turkish ceramics can be’, Tile Mile developed into an installation that challenged perceptions of space and pushed the boundaries of traditional tradeshow design.

By appropriating the arch thoroughfare of St. John’s Gate, Tile Mile made design accessible to a wider audience and captured the imagination of people of all ages by placing the focus on the experience.

The tiled floor; a modern reinterpretation of traditional Iznic design, was unique as it incorporated four different patterns created using a single geometric tile format in order to demonstrate that by using a contemporary product creatively a diverse range of visual outcomes can be achieved.

Design Challenge

Tile Mile’s success relies on careful attention to detail and exacting fabrication and installation tolerances. The biggest challenge was the fact that the installation had to slot within a 500 year old Grade I listed structure without fixing back to the existing building.

The challenges related to this were overcome by collaborating closely throughout the design and construction process with engineers and specialist fabricators. This collaborative approach meant that russ + henshaw were able to resolve problems and find clever solutions to retain the idea’s simplicity whilst overcoming the logistical issues of the site.

The ambitious intervention had to be erected in less than 36 hours requiring the entire installation to be prefabricated in a workshop, and by using a 3D survey, was perfectly tailored to fit the idiosyncrasies of the arch structure.


To minimise carbon footprint, Tile Mile was completely fabricated in London within 12 miles of the site. The fabricators and their suppliers were London based promoting local enterprise and traditional craftsmanship.

With the exception of the tiles, all materials were locally sourced and the benefit of prefabrication meaning that all of the elements could be easily disassembled and returned to the factory for reuse and recycling.

This award celebrates innovative and creative design for a temporary building or interior. Consideration given to materials, fixtures, finishes, signage and traffic flow. 

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