How to transform the streets to bring more joy!

I believe colour and pattern can make a positive impact in the world!  The right colour can uplift mood helping people to feel more positive.  Pattern and imagery can help connect people to places and add meaning to placemaking.

Joyous Ground Graphics

Cobalt Collective, commission by V&A Dundee. Photo Credit Louise Kirby

One way to add more colour into the public realm is through adding ground graphics and colourful crossings transforming dreary tarmac streets into colourful ones! Look how joyful these are! Cobalt Collective in collaboration with with some community groups decorated the plaza around the V&A Dundee to create this colourful positive artwork.

Plaza by Cobalt Collective outside V&A Dundee. Photo credit Cobalt Collective

Examples of colourful ground graphics from around the UK

Camille Walala, 2016, London, commissioned by the Transport for London’s Future Streets Incubator Fund.
Photo by Better Bankside

“The aim of the Colourful Crossings commission is to explore how everyday infrastructures in the city, such as pedestrian crossings, are perceived and can be transformed,” said Better Bankside.

Stobswell Colourful Crossing 2021, Dundee by Louise Kirby, UNESCO City of Design Dundee funded by Sustrans Scotland.

I (Louise Kirby) created this design inspired by the local area taking elements from the historic architectural details, green spaces and public art after consultation with locals wanting more colour into the grey streets. You can see more about it and a blog about the whole process here

Eley Kishimoto, 2016, Brixton, London. Photo from Brixton Buzz

I’ve always loved this graphic iconic print design by Eley Kishimoto. It’s got great movement with the use of strong graphics in the positive and negative space. It looks great on the streets of Brixton, also in the variations of colours.

Graphic design by Callum Laird, Union Street, Dundee, UNESCO City of Design Dundee funded by Sustrans Scotland.
Photo credit David P Scott

It brings great joy to walk up and down through the colour of Union Street, Dundee to and from the V&A Dundee. I love the limited colour palette and bold graphics. Nice to see local businesses making use of the street, it reminds me of cafe culture on holiday! I look forward to seeing what happens next in this project to create a more permanent enhancement. I am really inspired by Dundee City Councils vision.

Craigie Compass by Bigg Design and Fun Makes Good, 2022, funded by Sustrans Scotland.
Photo by Bigg Design

Hamish from Bigg Design and Eleanor from Fun Makes Good created these cool ground murals called the ‘Craigie Compas’ to help with wayfinding in Perth, Scotland. Great to see the ground graphics used to help wayfinding, brighten up the area and the addition of fun signage giving it a 3d feel. You can read about it here

Practical Considerations

On ground graphics we have a limited colour palette. By using different colour combinations we can get varied results.  There are options from the material used to apply the designs depending on if it’s a temporary or longer term installation and what the purpose of the area is used for.  When designing a ground graphic in the public realm consideration and consultation needs to be in place for accessibility for all users’ needs.

They are a great way to inject a bit of fun, playfulness and joy!

Dundee cake inspired design in Puebla Mexico for UNESCO City of Design Dundee, designed by Louise Kirby.
Photo credit UNESCO city of Design Dundee

An example of taking a bit of Dundee to the other side of the world in Puebla,Mexico, representing UNESCO City of Design Dundee. You can read more about this project where students from Puebla painted my design and used design to highlight a safety issue on the roads you can read more about it here

I have a vision of the world full of colourful creative interventions to bring more joy to the spaces we play, live, work and travel through.  My aim is to uplift and connect people and highlight the positives by creating artworks that capture a sense of place which creates a sense of belonging.  I love to do this with my use of playfully applying colour and pattern.

I am ready to take on new design challenges and if you have a project, collaboration or commission in mind please get in touch hello@louisekirby.com or you can check some samples on my website to give you a flavour of previous projects.

Stobswell Shutter Arts

I’ve loved painting the shutter art designs on 3 businesses on Albert Street in Stobswell Dundee. All designs are inspired by highlighting the positives in the area.

It’s been a joyful experience with lots of banter from locals giving me positive encouragement ‘what you up to?’ and me replying I’m bringing a bit of colour and pattern to the area to brighten it up!

Here’s a flavour of what folk have said over the weeks I was painting: “You’re doing a braw job of this, it’s keeping you busy, it’s so cheerful “, “Amazing what a difference it makes”, “That’s smart”, “You must have good patience, it’s lovely!”, “Radical Colours”, “He’s fascinated with your swans”, “Are you painting the whole street?”, “I hope you’re getting paid for this, it’s lovely and making a real difference”, And to top it off ‘Eh Ken you’

Colour is really important to me and I believe it can change how a place feels, which in turn can change how people feel. I want the people of Stobswell to feel positive and uplifted. For these designs I used the same vibrant colour palette from the Pocket Parks I designed in 2021 on Craigie St and Eliza Street.

The Albert Bar

The Albert Bar design is filled with colourful patterns, shapes and colours taken from the local area, such as the row of 7 arches inspired by the arches of the windows of the Baxter Park Pavilion, zig zags from the public art sculpture on Princess Street and geometrics from the brickwork gable end on Craigie Street.

Initially I was only to be painting one shutter but I extended the design onto 2 other shutters to look like the squares were falling off like an old school video game and bouncing in the shape of a zig zag to echo the detail. I think having all 3 together gives a stronger impact and the zig zag directs your eye to the main shutter.  Great to hear The Albert Bar or should I say L’lbert is planning on upgrading their frontage and fixing their sign now that they have shutter art!

The Property Shop

The Property Shop design is inspired by the Swannie Ponds featuring rows of swans, leaves and rippling water to create stripes of colourful patterns. This design idea developed further as I was painting as I wanted it to be more engaging to the children that walked and wheeled past as the bottom section is at a good eye level for them. I added 2 larger scale swans and some boats to give a nod to the Dundee Model Boat Club. It was nice to hear “He’s fascinated with your swans” as a lady and wee boy passed daily.

Lucky House

The Lucky House bold circular design is full of decorative details on the inside and outside and I think the clashing red and pink just sing together.  I was keen to include red as it represents happiness, beauty, success, and good fortune in China.

Can you spot where the patterns come from?

Ornamental details from the Baxter Park railings and the ironwork on the rooftop of Morgan Academy, zig zags from the public art sculpture. Some of these elements are also seen in my colourful crossing on Eliza Street. (you can read more about it here)

While painting the Lucky House shutter a local said ‘That’s not an oriental design’ and I explained the meaning of the patterns which started the conversation and hearing the history about how the Morgan Academy railings were removed in the 2nd world war to be used for bullets. You learn something new everyday!

I wanted each design to look unique but also to work as a series. I think they make a stronger impact being positioned quite close together, just imagine if they went all the way up Albert Street!

This commission was part of an open call from Sustran Scotland who are encouraging walking and wheeling in the area. We approached business owners with possible designs to find out if they were interested. I created sketches and shared for feedback, then agreed suitable times I could paint that didn’t interfere with their opening hours. I got all layered up in my painting clothes. The designs were painted by hand and I used some stencils and I created the circle shape using the lofi method of a bit of string and chalk. Thanks to all the help from Stobswell Forum and Dundee City Council Community Officer to encourage businesses to take part.

We had a Celebration Day to showcase the shutter art where myself and artist Gordy Crawford did tours talking about our inspiration and process. This event was in partnership with the Stobswell Form, Sustrans Scotland, Dundee City Council, where fun chalk activities were happening on Craigie Street and info about the future regeneration plans.

I really hope that the shutters bring joy to the people of the area who use it. Let me know what you think or how they make you feel!

`You can find out more about my projects here

This project was funded by Sustrans Scotland, Pocket Places programme where local communities shape their neighbourhood and take a lead in making their local area a better place to walk, wheel, cycle – and live.

Art Shows the Way

ART Shows The Way!

New dementia-friendly art and design projects at three Perthshire sheltered housing units have been created to help residents find their way around the complexes while adding new positive character.

Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust (THAT) in partnership with Perth & Kinross Council has commissioned these creative art and design solutions at the Carpenter Court and Strathmore Street sheltered housing units in Perth and at James Court in Pitlochry

Developed using dementia-friendly principles, the artworks and enhanced design will help make navigation around the buildings easier for the tenants.  

THAT commissioned designer Louise Kirby to hold consultation workshops with staff and tenants looking at themes and colours that residents responded well too. Louise then devised different plans, each appropriate to the individual sites. The concept was to use imagery that was based around the changing seasons and nature, and reflected the established colour coding system for each floor of the Carpenter Court and Strathmore Street. Within the third unit at James Court Pitlochry these designs reflected tenants’ and staffs’ love of the local animals and landscape and provided positive images that brighten up the corridor.

Louise said: “I loved the challenge of using my design skills to improve how tenants find their way around and across these sheltered housing units. The buildings are very different in size and layout and so required different solutions, but the principle is the same. The design elements link and flow with the established colour coding to provide positive visual markers for people. This has been a great opportunity to see how my design can help people living in these complexes.”

Perth & Kinross Council’s Housing and Communities Convener, Councillor Bob Brawn, added: “These   are lovely images and we have been getting a lot of positive comments about them from both tenants and visitors, who are really enjoying the colour they’ve brought to the complexes. They are a great addition to all the units and our tenants and staff are really pleased with the outcome.”

THAT promotes the therapeutic value of the arts based programmes to enhance environments, quality of life, and promote social inclusion by empowering individuals to make an important contribution to their health and wellbeing.

For more information about the THAT project, please contact Karine Neill Development Officer THAT on 01382 835509 or if you would like to chat to Louise Kirby about enhancing your space contact hello@louisekirby.com