Fourth Plinth: Contemporary Monument was an exhibition at the ICA showcasing maquettes of 21 different proposals for the empty plinth on Trafalgar Square, from artists including Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Marc Quinn, Thomas Schütte and Jeremy Deller.

As part of our new relationship with the ICA, we were invited to take charge of the design of the exhibition in every level: graphic communication, signage, a brochure and our first foray into architecture.

One of the main features of the original site of the fourth plinth is the different viewing points that it allows: there are stairs on one side of it, and two different levels on the front and back. To bring the sense of these different levels to the gallery, we designed a modular structure with steps that reminded us of stairs. This allowed us to offer multiple viewing points but also to control the viewing experience; the maquettes have different dimensions so we could place the bigger ones on lower levels and the smaller ones on the top steps, thus levelling them. The surfaces are finished in coloured mdf with mitred edges in a nod to the architecture of the square, and the metal wireframe keeps the structure visually light. These structures continue on the floor providing a restriction area that allows the maquettes to be protected without encasing them.

A particular aspect of the Fourth Plinth programme is the public debate it generates, and this was reflected in a room in the centre of the gallery. On its walls, there was a timeline showing the evolution of opinion and the press coverage throughout the programme alongside key events in London’s public life during the period. Separating this material in its own room provides an opportunity for the visitors to view the artworks without interference from the noise of opinion, at the same time offering a complete context for the maquettes.

Similarly to the design of the structures the graphic identity used a stylised rectangle with 45° angles. This image can be read as the view from the top of the empty plinth as much as one of the building blocks that surround the square.

This image was used throughout the promotional material from ads to invites and exhibition catalogue. The latter is designed as two publications bound together, a monochromatic version with essays and historical background, and a larger booklet in colour presenting the maquettes.