Stunning sculptures create art from DNA

These stunning sculptures are a literal case of art imitating life. Find out how they were made.

DNA sculptures

These stunning sculptures are in London all summer

If you have the chance to visit the UK capital over the next few months, you'll first want to check out our Designer's Guide to London. But here's something else that's new and worth checking out.

Leading artists, designers and sculptors from across the world have brought to the DNA double helix to life in a series of dramatic sculptures across the streets of London.

Each of the designers, including Ai WeiWei, Thierry Noir, Zaha Hadid, Orla Kiely, Jane Morgan and twins Chris and Xand van Tulleken, was asked 'what's in your DNA?' and the results are a colourful mixture of intriguing and thought-provoking designs.

The base helix design for each of the 21 sculptures was created by London design practice SomeOne. The artists then took these base sculptures and created unique designs.

The DNA inspired art trail is being organised by Cancer Research UK to funds for the Francis Crick Institute, a world-leading centre of biomedical research and innovation due to open in 2016.

The trail will be live throughout until Sunday 6 September, with the sculptures then being auctioned at Christie's.

Spiral inspiration

DNA sculptures

SomeOne based the designs on the DNA spiral

"Francis Crick was an astonishing scientist, and is best known for his work with James Watson which led to the discovery of DNA in 1953," explains Simon Manchipp, co-founder of SomeOne. "When working to develop a series of sculptures to be customised by some of the world's leading creatives, we considered many different kinds of form, but we kept on coming back to the DNA spiral.

"The outcome is accurately based on the DNA structure. In fact, we 'clothed' the molecular construction to develop larger surface areas that would be more adept at taking on the artists' ideas."

The SomeOne team was briefed by scientists on the complexities and subtleties of the DNA structure, explains lead designer Max Longstaff.

DNA sculptures

SomeOne used 3D printing to create prototypes for the sculptures

"The human body is made up of trillions of cells," he explains. "Each one of these is packed with long, delicate strands of DNA which provides the hardwired operating instructions (or genes) for everything that cell will ever need to do. We translated these incredible natural designs into a series of rapid prototype 3D prints – ranging from the more literal to the lateral."

For more information on the art trail, see the Cancer Research UK website.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.