The co-founder of smoothie-maker Innocent on Art Everywhere and why beauty matters.
You’ve plastered art posters large and small across the country. Tell us about Art Everywhere.
It was about trying to flood the streets with art. Fewer than 10% of people go into galleries so we thought we should take the art out to the people. These posters of 50 different pieces of art were on 22,000 sites, donated by the industry, from massive billboards to tiny taxi screens across the UK.
You and your wife came up with the idea. Why?
I used to walk to work along Goldhawk Road in West London and someone had put up a beautiful piece of art. I would stop and look at it. It gave life a bit of a bounce. There’s no commercial agenda. It’s an ad campaign for the beauty of art. We never expected to be taken seriously. But once we had got £3m worth of poster sites everyone got behind it with their cash, their support in graphics or app design, and their votes.
Where is your favourite site?
I was driving into London on the A4 flyover and saw a giant Tracey Emin with a love heart on the digital screens. It was fantastic. Posters are wherever people are: there are Hockneys in Huddersfield where my parents live. Ninety per cent of the UK will see 15 of them.
Where do you look for beauty?
I take spiritual nourishment from things all around. Of those that are man-made it is architecture as much as art. In the Pantheon in Rome, looking up through the building I was transported 2000 years. Innocent’s old office was a former industrial unit, with no windows. Now we are in a new building, Fruit Towers. It’s contemporary architecture, a temple of light, space and views. And the business has completely unfolded, it’s transformational, the energy is amazing – although I haven’t got a spreadsheet to prove it you can feel it. But I connect most with things that are not man-made, like an epic sunset on a beach somewhere.
How can architects imbue the city with art?
They can plumb art into the infrastructure of buildings and spatial design. And art should start with the building itself, it is there for beauty rather than hard commerciality. Design is for humans and we do respond to warmth and touch. Things that provide joy endure the most. In our world we want to create things with innate desire, so you want it even before you know what it is. I think that is very much comparable with architecture. It has to appeal to the emotional right brain and to the logical left.