Framing the V&A Museum for London Design Festival 2010

Framing the V&A Museum for London Design Festival 2010


Artist and designer Stuart Haygarth, working with leading framing company John Jones, has created a striking installation on the grand marble staircase leading to the V&A’s Architecture galleries.

Creating evocative stories through objects and architectural features is central to Haygarth’s work, and this installation is no exception.

Haygarth created a cascade made with over 30 traditional and contemporary, bespoke frame mouldings, spanning in lengths of almost 20 metres each over the staircase, bringing this significant piece of the museum’s architecture to life and creating a dramatic landscape through which visitors can walk.

Over 600 meters of frame profiles were cut, mitered, joined, sanded and colored in a range of special finishes including gold leaf.



It comprises mitred picture-frame mouldings, provided by John Jones, the high-end London art framer (clients have included Francis Bacon and David Hockney). The frames are joined together and cut to form steps so they hug the stairs.

‘It has endless associations, from a catwalk to the Yellow Brick Road,’ Haygarth says. For one with such an idiosyncratic take on design, it is not surprising to hear his final, offbeat comment on his piece: ‘I see it as 3D graffiti on a very traditional marble staircase.’


The greatness of Haygarth’s work is not that he uses recycled materials, but that they become a by-product to the beauty of the piece – it looks like they were created to accommodate the piece, rather than the other way round.

The construction of the ‘Framed’ staircase at the V&A, in collaboration with Stuart Haygarth, took over 4 months for the team at John Jones to produce.

Starting from Stuart’s initial sketch, the John Jones team took measurements of each and every step of the staircase and produced an exact template to work to. Bringing in craftspeople from each of our specialist departments – woodmill, joining, sanding, finishing and installation – they set out a 12 week production plan, utilising a spare workshop at their premises in Finsbury Park.

The team enjoyed employing their traditional skills in a new way on this project – it tested the boundaries of all the departments.

“‘We’re extremely proud to be involved in such a fantastic project’  –  Managing Director Matthew Jones. ‘The whole team has got involved and the project has also received a fantastic response from our clients.”

Working with Stuart has been a great experience and enabled us to demonstrate the incredible capabilities of our talented team.’ The installation will be brought back to John Jones at the end of London Design Festival and we will work with Stuart to find a way to display it.

John Jones was established in the 1960s by the eponymous man himself – an East-End chancer fresh from working as an Evening Standard driver who found that he had an impeccable eye for framing – it’s remained in the family ever since. During its forty-year reign, the framers’ framers have consistently handled the kind of artworks that you’ve read about in textbooks.


John Jones has a long history of supporting emerging artists and contemporary art. Our passion to generate new opportunities for artists led to the development of the 3,000 square ft John Jones Project Space in 2007.

The space generated the potential for artists to realise large scale projects and exhibitions relieved from the pressures of commercialism, allowing room for experimentation and professional development.

About Stuart Haygarth

Born in Whalley, Lancashire, UK 1966.


1984 – 1985 Preston Polytechnic, Lancashire, UK – Art & Design Foundation course.

1985 – 1988 Exeter College of Art & Design, Devon, UK – BA in Graphic Design / Photography.


1988 – 1990 Photographic Assistant, London,UK.

1990 – 1991 Travelling the world.

1991 – 2005 Working as freelance Photographic Illustrator.

2005 – 2006 Working as freelance Designer & Photographic Illustrator.

2007 – 2008 Working as Freelance Designer.

Teaching Appointments

1995-2005 Visiting lecturer at Plymouth University Photography Department.

Starting in 2004 Stuart Haygarth has been working on design projects which revolve around the collections of objects. The objects are normally collected in large quantities categorized and assembled in a way that transforms their meaning. His work is about giving banal and overlooked objects a new significance.

Stuart Haygarth is well-known on the design scene for being at the forefront of today’s ‘upcycling’ vogue, transforming everyday, often overlooked found objects into things of unexpected beauty. The finished piece of work takes various forms such as chandeliers, installations, functional and sculptural objects.

‘Any object, however mundane, is a valid material to use,’ Haygarth says. But he shies away from the eco tag: ‘My work is more about giving overlooked things a fresh significance by putting them in a new context.’

Haygarth’s raw materials are all manner of flotsam and jetsam that he accumulates in large quantities. But he creates order out of this chaos, usually assembling his generally large-scale, site-specific pieces using only one type of object.

His Millennium chandelier of 2000, for example, was made solely of exploded party poppers found on London’s streets after the millennium celebrations. In 2006, for London’s Design Museum, he made a chandelier out of hundreds of prescription glasses, and in 2008 he created a bat house out of plastic sausage packaging in response to the declining numbers of bats in Britain’s cities.

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