Bespoke Winner 2020
Designer – Studio Marlene Huissoud
Maker – Benchmark Furniture
Client – Science Museum London as part of ‘Legacy’ for LDF 2019
Wood supplier – Morgan Timber
Species – American red oak
“A very different design ethos.”—Corinne Julius
A shambling beastie, trotting amiably through the grounds of The Science Museum, The Beehave by Marlene Huissoud is a haven for wild bees. Commissioned as part of the London Design Festival’s Legacy project by Sir Ian Blatchford, director and chief executive of the Science Museum Group, The Beehave is a stirring reminder of wood’s value to all forms of life.
Carved from American red oak that has been scorched black and carved to resemble fur, The Beehave has been varnished inside and out with propolis, a resinous material that bees produce to seal gaps in their hives. The Beehave’s propolis protects the timber from disease, as well as drawing bees towards the habitat. The daughter of a beekeeper, Huissoud is a font of knowledge about the insects, and her care and consideration for her “clients” is apparent throughout the design’s execution – a witty remix of the fallen logs that bees make their homes in the wild.
“I wanted this insect habitat to reflect nature,” says Huissoud. “This hive looks like a log and harks back to one of the oldest techniques for beekeeping that exists, because it is also a refuge for wild bees, somewhere they can make a home in the wild. I didn’t want it to be all about making honey – this piece is about helping bees to live.”
A charming, gregarious form, The Beehave provides an accessible route into understanding bees and their behaviour, as well as raising awareness of their alarming decline in population. Yet in addition to its role as a piece of public communication, The Beehave stood out as a successful piece of furniture or architecture (depending on one’s scale) in its own right. Tellingly, it is already home to a thriving colony of wild bees. This, the judges decided, was the ultimate testament to the design: “The Beehave is a fully functioning beehive, not just a sculptural piece.”