The Impact of Suspended Artwork in Modern Design

Public suspended artwork installations can enhance an urban landscape through colour, form, shape, a sense of playfulness and even storytelling.

Tensile has been involved in designing and installing cable suspension systems for several such projects – some temporary and some permanent.

Suspended art projects are unique, requiring a bespoke solution for their support structure. This can be a balancing act – it’s crucial the artwork is safely suspended overhead while remaining the visual focus.

The apparatus suspending the work needs to be robust and expertly engineered but also visually unobtrusive – virtually fading into the background.

Tensile’s suspended artwork project examples

Here are some practical examples of how this has been achieved.

Chiaroscuro – a story of migration to Sydney

As a series of colourful light cells suspended over Norton Street in Leichardt, ‘Chiaroscuro’ (meaning ‘light-dark’) tells a story of Italian migration to the area during the mid-20th century.

The installation was challenging due to the weight of the artwork. We used robust 6mm and 8mm stainless steel cables for the support system to get the required result.

The artists aimed to infuse colour, geometric form, and a sense of fun into the work. They certainly seem to have achieved all that – check it out here!

WeAVE of Colour – a community art project in Melbourne

This was a collaborative, temporary art installation consisting of decorative hoops of colour floating above the Acland Village Mall in St Kilda.

There were challenges in suspending the fabric hoops – including use of the street’s existing tram poles and structural and load constraints.

We overcame the challenges by designing a unique cable netting system from 6mm stainless steel wire rope – one that could also be easily dismantled later.

The installation certainly made a bold statement, adding layers of playful colour and movement to the street. You can see the images for yourself on our project page.

The Impact of Suspended Artwork in Modern Design / Tensile Design & Construct

Steam Mill Lane – giant hanging ‘jewels’ in a Sydney laneway

The suspended boldly-coloured metal artworks in Steam Mill Lane look like huge pieces of jewellery –hardly surprising since an award-winning jeweller designed them!

We suspended the pieces using 6mm stainless steel cables which attach back to nearby buildings. The largest of the pieces is 850kg in weight! And yet the supporting cables, while being strong enough to hold such a weight, are almost invisible.

At night, the lights concealed by the pieces provide a soft colourful glow to the laneway. It’s certainly worth checking out!

The Workshop – hanging plants in Sydney office building

Although not an artwork, this project demonstrates the versatility of Tensile’s suspended installation solutions!

The installation comprises a series of giant hanging planters, suspended from above inside a glass-roofed central atrium.

This was very challenging, as suspending heavy planters from a glass ceiling is not exactly an everyday task! To make it happen, we designed and installed a bespoke system for the job, consisting of a suspended transfer frame designed to prevent the planters from tilting.

The result looks pretty amazing – you can see it here.

These projects demonstrate what can be achieved with Jakob’s stainless-steel materials in the hands of a team of design and engineering experts. Give us a call if you have a suspended artwork project in mind.

The Impact of Suspended Artwork in Modern Design / Tensile Design & Construct

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