LOOK UP: Selfridges unveiled a bold new look at its Birmingham, England, store on Monday, with its curvy blue shape and large silver disk facade now covered by black and pink patterns designed by Osman Yousefzada.
The public art commission, entitled “Infinity Pattern 1,” covers more than 107,639.1 square feet and is a radical new landmark for the city.
According to Yousefzada, who is Birmingham-born and the son of Pakistani Afghan migrants, the concept of the pattern derived from “Her Dreams Are Bigger,” a film he made in 2019, in which Bangladeshi garment-makers imagine the lives of the women wearing the clothes they make.
“The work is entrenched in autoethnographic elements of migration, community formation and how they happen, interact and settle. The work reflects my personal story and more widely my ethnic history and some of the symbolism inherent to my culture,” he said.
“The structural infinity built within the design of this installation is a direct and contrasting response to the garment factory worker’s statement of the limitation within their life’s horizon. Instead, I’m proposing this antidote that conjures up an endless connectivity, new possibilities, countless new journeys,” he added.
The concept was chosen following an international competition led by Ikon, a Birmingham-based art gallery. It will be on full display until the end of the year and be dismantled gradually next year while the store undergoes major renovation until next summer. It’s expected to be completed just ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
Hannah Emslie, creative director of Selfridges, said this new work is “uplifting but also meaningful and deeply connected to the fabric and culture of the city. By changing the skyline — at a time when the city itself is changing — we hope to make the world brighter through creative expression, and the people of Birmingham even prouder of their iconic city.”
An in-store art exhibition, shop and art trail codesigned and co-curated with Ikon will run concurrently, showcasing new works by Osman, as well as pieces by Birmingham artists Hira Butt, Farwa Moledina and Maryam Wahid, while selling tote bags, blankets and vegan leather accessories all featuring the endlessly tessellating pattern.
Jonathan Watkins, director of Ikon, said the work “smartly conveys his ongoing preoccupation with the nature of cultural identity, a basic human need for belonging and the experience of migration, and these themes will be developed further through an exciting program of events taking place in-store as part of Ikon’s Migrant Festival in August.”