Sir John Sorrell, chairman of London Design Festival, has called upon his friends at London’s top cultural institutions to collaborate with some of the world’s most prolific designers to create a ‘Legacy’ piece in American red oak that will be shown at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, in collaboration with Benchmark Furniture.

A log-shaped beehive with legs that has been scorched black and engraved, designed by Marlène Huissoud for Sir Ian Blatchford, Director/Chief Executive of the Science Museum Group. The red oak has been varnished inside and out with propolis, a dark resinous material produced by bees to seal gaps in the hive; this protects the timber and attracts bees with its scent.

Sir Ian Blatchford commissioned Marlène Huissoud to create a beehive to feature in a new permanent gallery at the Science Museum focused on the future of agriculture. Whilst doing some research for the new gallery, Ian came across a research project focused on the habits of bees and the reason behind their decline in population. When meeting with Marlène, who is not only a designer whose artistic outlook is rooted in the natural world, but also the daughter of a beekeeper, a beehive seemed like the obvious choice.

“Bees are on my mind, and when this London Design Festival opportunity arose, it seemed like a provocative and surprising idea to present a beehive to the public in the new gallery. You expect to see lots of machinery in a science museum but not something so profoundly organic.”, – Sir Ian Blatchford, The Science Museum

Growing up in the French Alps as the daughter of a beekeeper, nature is something that has always been close to heart to Marlène Huissoud and central to her work as a designer and artist. When designing the beehive for Sir Ian Blatchford, Marlène wanted to break away from the traditional, house-like beehive, and create something more organic.

“I wanted this insect habitat to reflect nature. This hive looks like a log and harks back to one of the oldest techniques for beekeeping that exists, because it is also a refuge for wild bees, somewhere they can make a home in the wild. I didn’t want it to be all about making honey – this piece is about helping bees to live.” – Marlène Huissoud

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Legacy project commissioned by American Harwood Export Council, in collaboration with Benchmark.

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Beehave_Marlene Huissoud_Sir Ian Blatchf

©Petr Krejci