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Shapes of Edinburgh

January-May 2023

Project in collaboration with Sophie Clark, Chen Jiajie & Li Yuanming

The University of Edinburgh


Brief: Design a trophy to be used for the University of Edinburgh CAHSS staff recognition awards

This project started as a contest. We got to propose a trophy design, and as our concept was chosen, we were given the funds to manufacture the 11 trophies to be used for the awards.

Our trophy was designed to represent the fact achievements are rarely individual, and we need to celebrate those who help us on our journey. The smaller glass component can be removed and gifted to someone else, encouraging gratefulness, and highlighting values of community and support. The design of the glass blocks is created from landscapes of Edinburgh, using the eclectic nature of this city as a symbol for the diversity of the university’s community.

Trophy 9_edited.jpg

When considering what we could do, we started by outlining what the values of the college were, and what stood out to us most was notions of community, support, and people coming together and giving back. This inspired the 'functional' side of our concept, and the idea of giving part of the trophy away. We also took inspiration from our experience living in Edinburgh, and we all mentioned how we loved the strong diversity of the city (urban and natural spaces, modern and older architecture, etc.), and we realised this had strong symbolic potential, which lead to the aesthetic for the trophy.


We decided glass would showcase the overlapping skylines really well, despite being aware it would be a challenge to cast 22 pieces of glass in the given timeframe. Wood then felt right for the base, as it complimented the glass whilst staying more neutral.



Step 1

As we wanted to use lost wax casting for the glass components of the 11 trophies, we needed many copies of the parts in wax. We started by getting detailed 3D prints of the two parts. We then made silicone moulds of them, which we were able to use repeatedly to create the waxes.

Step 2

We then plaster casted the wax pieces, and steamed the wax out of the plaster moulds. These then just had to be left to dry out, so they could be ready for glass casting.

Step 3

Once the glass was cast, we broke the moulds, cleaned and polished the pieces. We then created stencils and used them to sandblast the name of the specific award and the name of the winner onto the bigger glass piece.

Step 4

The wood bases were bandsawed and the footprints for the glass pieces routered out. All the fits were checked, and once we were sure everything was fine, the bases were finished with a layer of white wax. Finally, the glass pieces were glued to their respective base pieces.

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