The Fluke

In the work of Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, the Fluke is an anomaly; it is a sculpture and not a product. The initial attraction to the project, which was a commission by the London Design Festival, was primarily because of the location. The site is part of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich in London, Sir Christopher Wren's great Baroque masterpiece. It sits a few metres from the bank of the Thames and is very significant in Britain's maritime history. Because of this Edward and Jay wanted to create something that would stand as a celebration of the language of marine anatomy and nautical design engineering. Barber & Osgerby have long been fascinated by what they term ‘hidden design’: engineered forms that enable swift movement through air or water, whether the hull of a sculling boat or a vertical tail plane from an aircraft.

  • Date / 2007
  • Material / Cor-Ten Steel

The name ‘Fluke’ derives from the lobe of a whale's tail and was really the nearest thing to a built manifestation of ‘hidden design’. It mixed the nautical and aeronautical, creating an object that, in a sense, looked as though it could both fly and move through water.

Four metres in size and made of Core-ten steel, the sculpture rusted and became less of a celebration of dynamic form and more of a lament for a long-gone period of British manufacturing and engineering history; a giant anchor, left behind long after its ship had been scuttled or dismantled for scrap.