It’s all in the details

Sophie Lewis

O2 Arena (Photo: Flickr)

When it comes to design, the attention to detail that artists, designers and architects put into their work can sometimes be missed in the grand scheme of things.

A prime example is the work of costume and set designers in the theatre.

The V&A are currently displaying some of their extensive Theatre & Performance Collection, giving everyone the chance to explore the history of the theatre and get up close with the sets, costumes and props which are often too far away for the audience to truly appreciate. You focus on the actors and their performance rather than the set and the costumes – so you wouldn’t be blamed for not realising that many of the smallest details are carefully thought out. Within the V&A exhibition, there are a number of costumes from Victorian-based plays, yet when you look closely you can see how, despite being set in the same era, each costume differs in small ways to reflect the particular decade in which the play was performed. From silhouettes to sleeve design, these little details are carefully considered to perfectly merge popular designs of the day with the age it is trying to portray.

But it’s not just in the theatre where there are little details which go amiss. The same can be said for the buildings that surroundus in the City of London.

Many iconic buildings and structures that we recognise in an instant have details within in them which are bordering on genius when you learn about them.

Take the O2 Arena for example. Originally built to mark the Millennium, it has multiple references to time ingrained into it: the 12 supports visible from the roof which represent each month of the year; the dome is 52m high, matching the number of weeks in a year; and the diameter is 365m, one for each day of the year (if you ignore leap years).

Blackfriars Bridge is another such example – have you ever noticed that parts of it are designed to look like pulpits in reference to Black Friars?


Blackfriars Bridge (Photo: Wikimedia)

There are countless details that go unnoticed around us. But once you start to look closely at things you begin to realise just how much time and through designers, architects and all manner of creatives put into their designs, and it’s really quite remarkable.