The art of social distancing: Stella Artois supports pubs’ safe reopening with smart street art installations


With just one day to go until the country can at last reunite over a socially-distanced beer, Stella Artois is looking to ensure the moment is a safe one – through the power of smart street art.

It is installing a huge 28 x 14 metre artwork at the heart of the Old Truman Brewery in London, using a combination of geometric shapes and contrasting colours to help visitors safely maintain social distancing without the need for physical barriers.

Elements of the design are being shared with 1,000 pubs and bars across the UK to support their covid-19 measures as they finally welcome back customers.

The artwork has been developed by Stella Artois with Studio Number One, the team of world-renowned street artist Shepard Fairey – best known for the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster and Andre the Giant OBEY designs.

The work borrows techniques used in op art, urban planning, architecture and design to manage people’s movements and make keeping socially distant obvious and easy, without the use of off-putting physical barriers.

It features a careful combination of circles, flowing lines and bright, contrasting colours, set within a representation of a woman toasting with a beer, creating a design that is both functional and artistic – transforming an otherwise featureless space into a vibrant place to linger safely over a drink.

The colour-contrasted circles accommodate different-sized groups, allowing individuals from different households to meet in adjacent circles, with larger areas for several housemates to share a beer together.

And while the circles are precisely spaced to maintain social distancing, the range of sizes and flowing lines around them create a sense of freedom and movement – avoiding the stark feeling of being on a grid or the sense of disconnection found in other safe-social designs.

The Stella Artois initiative comes as changes to licensing laws mean many pubs are looking to convert outdoor spaces into al fresco drinking areas. The campaign hopes not only to make such places safer, but also ensure customers actually feel safe, while minimising measures that some may feel unwelcoming.