Dezeen Magazine

Michael Anastassiades installs bronze drinking fountain at the V&A that "lights up your whole face"

Michael Anastassiades installs drinking fountain that "lights up your whole face" at the V&A

London-based designer Michael Anastassiades looked to classical architecture when creating this reflective bronze drinking fountain, which is installed in the V&A's garden courtyard for London Design Festival.

Called The Fleet, the drinking fountain comprises a simple, fluted bronze column. A curved top creates a shallow bowl, which contains a concealed water dispenser.

The idea is that, as you lean over to take a drink, the curved bronze surface will reflect golden light onto your face.

"What we wanted to do is abstract the fluting into something contemporary," Anastassiades told Dezeen. "So we studied that whole idea, the whole ritual of drinking water, making a column with a bowl on top, but giving it a precious quality."

"The semi-reflective bronze is eventually going to acquire a beautiful patina over the years," he continued. "It is nice because it reflects the light when you drink from it so your whole face lights up."

Michael Anastassiades installs bronze drinking fountain at the V&A that "lights up your whole face"

The fountain's waterspout is concealed under the curvature of the bowl and the spout of water is activated by a sensor on the side.

"What is nice about it is that it looks abstract, then you start figuring out how it works when you approach it," he said.

The fountain was created for The London Fountain Co – an initiative headed by Brompton Design District curator Jane Withers and publisher Charles Asprey, which seeks to provide free drinking water in London and eliminate plastic waste.

"The Fleet drinking fountain is intended as a robust addition to the streetscape for refilling bottles as well as drinking," said the pair.

"Our hope is that these drinking fountains can be implemented on a larger scale in London and beyond, helping to provide the infrastructure needed to move away from plastic bottled water."

Michael Anastassiades installs bronze drinking fountain at the V&A that "lights up your whole face"

Anastassiades, who is best known for his lighting and furniture designs, was tasked with creating a "beautiful and functional" contemporary fountain that has a strong design language but does not add unnecessary noise to its surroundings, much like a traditional postbox or telephone box.

"It seemed a pity that in the UK, despite such an illustrious drinking fountain tradition, that the ones installed recently are mainly rather basic utilitarian models," Withers told Dezeen.

"We wanted a design that celebrated water and made people want to use it, a beautiful and functional fountain that could become a loved feature of the city in the tradition of the Wallace Fountains in Paris or Rome's nasoni."

Anastassiades hopes that users will consider the design to be "timeless, so you can't really figure out when it was created, like it could have been there forever".

Michael Anastassiades installs bronze drinking fountain at the V&A that "lights up your whole face"

It has not yet been confirmed whether the drinking fountain will become a permanent fixture at the V&A, but a second fountain is set be installed in South Kensington later this year and others are planned, which could be cast in different materials.

"Michael combines an extraordinary ability as a form-maker with a strong focus on technical aspects, which is essential for a drinking fountain design. His designs have a timeless quality that was ideal for our ambition of creating a permanent addition to the streetscape," said Withers.

"We wanted a family of fountains, with a model suitable for busy streets, one for parks that is a little more playful and where people can also offer water to their dogs, and a wall-mounted version," she added.

London Design Festival runs from 15 to 23 September. Other projects on show include an interactive installation featuring 26 colourful alphabet chairs and a nine-metre-high maze built from cross-laminated timber.