images Peter Guenzel
words Riya Patel
A former hydraulic power station in Wapping, east London was the setting for the 2012 graduate review – Icon's annual selection of promising design graduates from schools around the UK. The 14 projects were innovative studies in a range of practical and social issues; including a fictitious restaurant, a folding sewing machine, odour-absorbing clothes hangers and a new process for making furniture by wrapping wood with threads.
Now home to the Wapping Project arts centre, run by director Jules Wright, the Victorian power station is still filled with the heavy-duty pumps and machinery of its heyday. Until 1977 the station supplied power by steam and then electricity to parts of south London via the Tower Subway, a tunnel under the Thames that was built in 1869 originally to shuttle passengers underground between the riverbanks.
This month, the Wapping Project is bringing the city a glimpse into the working process of Kris Ruhs – the US artist best known for creating the eclectic Milan design hub 10 Corso Como with publisher Carlo Sozzani. Ruhs, described as a "magpie-maker", likes to work with discarded materials for his products and spaces. He will occupy the Wapping Project's Boiler House until 14 October.