A Musical Masterpiece: ‘The London’ Grand Piano

In a remarkable collaboration, Based Upon, the London-based creative powerhouse known for its imaginative and emotive works, recently joined forces with Steinway & Sons UK to give life to ‘The London.’

This unique artistic adaptation of the Model B SPIRIO|r grand piano exemplifies a delicate touch in preserving the acoustic magnificence of Steinway & Sons pianos. Drawing inspiration from the heart of London itself, this extraordinary creation serves as a tribute to the vibrant city where it resides.

A Musical Masterpiece: 'The London' Grand Piano

The Essence of Based Upon

Based Upon is no stranger to embarking on poetic journeys with their works. Their creations are more than mere art; they harbour multi-layered narratives that reflect profound connections between the pieces and their origins. Each creation emanates the highest level of craftsmanship, ensuring they transcend time and become timeless heirlooms that carry the essence of family history and cultural heritage.

For ‘The London,’ Based Upon looked to the leaves of the London Plane Tree, a species synonymous with the city’s central locations, including The Mall, Berkeley Square, and Regents Park. The veins of these leaves mirror the intricate pathways of London’s streets, and they have been meticulously cast in brass to form the piano’s music desk. Under the lid, the leaf is gracefully poised in mid-motion, as if captured by the wind. The topstick, on the other hand, takes the form of an abstract Plane tree branch. The piano’s hinge elegantly showcases London’s skyline, inspired by Based Upon’s firsthand experiences along the banks of the River Thames.

A Musical Masterpiece: 'The London' Grand Piano

The Heart of ‘The London’

At the core of ‘The London‘ is Steinway & Sons Model B, crafted by skilled hands in their Hamburg factory and revered by pianists as “the perfect piano.” Measuring 6 feet 11 inches, it strikes a harmonious balance, boasting Steinway’s cutting-edge technology, SPIRIO|r – the world’s most exquisite high-resolution player piano capable of live performance capture and playback. SPIRIO|r opens up new horizons for enjoying music at home, enabling seamless recording, performance editing, music sharing, and a playback quality that is both precise and nuanced.

After nearly two decades of artistic endeavour, Based Upon, co-founded by twin brothers Ian and Richard Abell alongside Alex Welch, has received commissions from the world’s most eminent individuals and prestigious brands. Driven by a shared appreciation for Based Upon’s philosophies on preciousness, alchemy, and intrinsic value, these patrons have entrusted the studio with creating remarkable legacy pieces in bronze, other metals, and Based Upon’s exclusive materials.

A Grand Success: ‘The Manhattan’

Preceding ‘The London,’ Based Upon’s collaboration with Steinway & Sons bore fruit in the form of ‘The Manhattan.’ Commissioned by a client in New York, ‘The Manhattan’ is a testament to the studio’s dedication to preserving the essence of the Steinway & Sons grand piano. Through meticulous observations and considerations, every aspect of the instrument’s sound, tone, and dynamic resonance was respectfully retained.

A single, graceful gesture envelops the piano, paring it down to its most minimalist state. The music desk pays homage to the piano’s soundboard intricacies, and the hinge mirrors the iconic Manhattan cityscape, as if glistening in the Hudson River. The vast lid of the Steinway & Sons piano features a mesmerizing artwork, depicting an interpretation of Manhattan’s night sky.

A Musical Masterpiece: 'The London' Grand Piano

Based Upon’s partnership with Steinway & Sons is an extension of the studio’s initial venture into the realm of pianos, following the sell-out success of ‘The Baby.’ These highly sought-after creations, now gracing some of the world’s most prestigious private collections, were an adaptation of Based Upon’s ‘Twist’ series, a sculptural form inspired by the Golden Spiral found throughout nature and the cosmos.

The question, “Is this based upon a Steinway & Sons piano?” became a common refrain, ultimately leading Based Upon to fulfil this desire and establish a collaborative relationship with the creators of the world’s finest pianos.

For Based Upon, value transcends mere cost or market price; it becomes an attribute that is unique to each commissioning individual, family, or institution. Embracing their pioneering philosophies on preciousness, Based Upon aims to transform objects into vessels of enduring legacy value. They firmly believe that legacy value is a personal and intangible concept, one that carries immense significance.


In the words of Ian Abell, “We explore provenance, materiality, and emotional resonance to merge narrative with form and function. This privileged, alchemic journey of creation leads us to define legacy value for clients, including the world’s most esteemed companies, and private, discerning families and individuals. It has been an honour to work with Steinway & Sons.”

The collaboration between Based Upon and Steinway & Sons UK has yielded remarkable creations that stand as a testament to their commitment to craftsmanship, artistry, and the enduring value of their work. ‘The London‘ and ‘The Manhattan’ are not merely pianos; they are harmonious expressions of artistic and musical excellence, destined to captivate generations to come.

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