Public Art Designed by London-Based Artist to Greet, Inspire Visitors at the New Norman Public Library Central

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Normanites seeking knowledge within the walls of the new Norman Public Library Central will find inspiration at its doorsteps with a striking, roughly 45-foot sculpture Unbound designed by Paul Cocksedge out of London, England that will greet guests and celebrate Norman’s proud tradition of education and learning. 

The sculpture will be installed in late July with a dedication set for 5 p.m. Thursday, July 25 at the Norman Public Library Central, 103 W. Acres, Norman. Cocksedge will lead an artist talk discussing their process and inspiration for the piece the evening prior at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 24 at MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 122 E. Main, Norman. Both events are free and open to the public. 

Unbound is constructed of bright, anodized aluminum, rolled into paper-like sheets elevated by the invisible wind. The art piece makes a visually striking connection between the Oklahoma environment and the Norman Public Library Central, where it will be located. 

Cocksedge felt that paper was the perfect subject for this public art project to illustrate that relationship, aiming to inspire the community and the readers and learners crossing into the library’s threshold. 

“This piece connects with paper as an invention that changed the course of human history. Our sculpture pays homage to the millions of pieces of paper in the Norman library, but also emphasizes our changing relationship with them,” he said of the inspiration for the piece. “The tangibility of turning a page has always been at the heart of learning – however, that’s something that’s evolving as paper is supplemented by screen. That changing relationship makes this piece relevant not just for its obvious connections to the library, but as a milestone that marks the turning point of paper’s role in our lives.”

Cocksedge was selected out of 204 requests for qualification submissions, which were generated from artists and designers from across the globe. Three finalists — one of which came from Norman — were asked to create design proposals, and Cocksedge was chosen by the selection panel composed of stakeholders from the Pioneer Library System, City of Norman, Norman Arts Council and design team behind the Norman Public Library Central. 

Cocksedge is well practiced in this scope of project. Previous clients have included the City of Milan, City of Lyon, London Design Festival, BMW, Sony, Swarovski and more. Examples of his studio’s work can be found at www.paulcocksedgestudio.com.

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The piece’s design and manufacturing were coordinated by Flintco, LLC with engineering by Kirkpatrick Forest Curtis PC. Matherly Mechanical completed the fabrication locally and assembled the piece on site with a boom lift using three-dimensional coordinates to carefully place all 262 sheets over a 7-week period.

The selection was approved by the Norman Arts Council Board and the Norman Public Arts Board in April and the Norman City Council approved the contract with Paul Cocksedge Studio on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. The library itself is set to open in late summer to early fall.  

This is the third public art project made possible through the Norman Forward 1% for Art Program, led by Public Art Manager Debby Williams. Mark Aeling’s SPLASH was installed at the Westwood Family Aquatic Center, 1017 Fairway Drive, in December 2017. James Johnson’s Prairie Wind was installed at the East Branch Library, 3001 E. Alameda, in June 2018. 

More about Paul Cocksedge

Internationally acclaimed British designer Paul Cocksedge has developed a unique reputation for a thoroughly original and innovative approach, underpinned by research into the limits of technology and materials.

His catalogue of work spans design products, architectural projects, installations and sculptures, all infused with the sense of simplicity, joy and wonder that has come to characterise his work.

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Cocksedge studied under Ron Arad at the Royal College of Art, and was nominated for Designer of the Year by London's Design Museum in 2004, just two years after graduation. He established Paul Cocksedge Studio with Joana Pinho in the same year, and the practice has participated in design festivals around the world, adding playfulness to technologically ingenious sculptures and installations (Drop, Bourrasque and SestoSenso), as well as permanent structures – such as the Living Staircase for Ampersand, the state-of-the-art creative office development in Soho, London. Cocksedge's ever-popular interactive piece KISS has travelled across the globe, from Milan to Shanghai, and in 2016 he created a light installation for London's Sir John Soane's Museum, which immersed visitors in a golden glow.

Pushing the possibilities of materials is a recurring theme in Cocksedge's work, with his Freeze series made from metals that wouldn't otherwise adhere seamlessly bonded together using freezing temperatures. His studio has also developed a unique range of products, including the award-winning bluetooth speaker The Vamp®, and the innovative Double O bicycle light.

Cocksedge presented his first solo show, Capture, at the Friedman Benda Gallery in New York in 2013, returning to the gallery in 2015 for a second major exhibition entitled Freeze. At Milan design week 2017 he showcased a collection of concrete and glass furniture – EXCAVATION: Evicted for Friedman Benda in collaboration with Beatrice Trussardi – made from material extracted from his own studio's foundations.

In 2018, Cocksedge was shortlisted to design the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, chosen from a longlist of over a hundred other entries. Other notable recent projects include designing Swire Properties' VIP Lounge at Art Basel Hong Kong (2019), and creating a light installation for fashion brand COS's Coal Drops Yard retail space (2019). As part of an extensive list of ongoing projects, he is working on a major public installation for London Design Festival, commissioned by British Land, Broadgate and made using recycled scaffolding planks, as well as completing a 45-foot outdoor sculpture, inspired by our changing perception of paper, for the Central Norman Public Library Branch in Oklahoma, USA. His 33-metre long sculptural sun shade, created for the Oman Botanic Garden, is also nearing completion. 

Cocksedge has collaborated with a wide range of partners, from major brands such as British Land, Swire Properties, Arup, Swarovski, Fendi, NHS, BMWto private clients. His work is included in museum collections around the world, including the V&A, MoMA and Vitra Design Museum.

Accolades include: Wallpaper* Design Award for Best of Big Chill for Freeze Desk, Design Museum Design of the Year nomination for Double O bike light, Moët Hennessy PAD London prize for Best Contemporary Design Object, Homes & Gardens Product and Innovation Designer for The Vamp, German Design Council Awards to BMW for Sestosenso, Elle Decoration British Design Awards nomination in the Best British Sustainable Design Category.