British design store Habitat has just opened a new 'laboratory of ideas' above its branch on London's King's Road. Titled 'Platform', the gallery will be a springboard for creative innovation and thinking, hosting thought-provoking exhibitions, discussions and talks.
The new venture is not about pushing product. 'The works on show won't necessarily be sold by Habitat in future,' says Platform's curator (and Wallpaper* editor-at-large), Suzanne Trocmé. 'The emphasis will be on process rather than finished pieces.'
First up is Framed, an exhibition of photographs by architect John Pawson that make up his new book, A Visual Inventory. Lining the gallery's walls are portraits of the places, patterns and forms that have inspired his built works. 'Through his snapshots, we see how he thinks, not what he does,' says Trocmé.
Future programme highlights include the satisfyingly named 'Brit Pot', which will look at the designers that are reinvigorating the UK's ceramics industry. Among the works in the show, launching on 14 July, will be a new collection by Max Lamb, titled 'Crockery', for which he has worked with clay for the first time. And, in the build up to September's London Design Festival (Trocmé has been one of its curators since 2009), Platform will also be launching a call for entries for an exhibition of designs from the Commonwealth.
The gallery intends to host informal Wednesday night 'lates', opening its doors from 6.30pm to 8pm for people to drop in for chats, creative confabs, and a glass of wine. Just last night artist Duggie Fields dropped by, as did Robert Pulley (Principal of West Dean College) and Jacky Lambert (chair of the University of Oxford's China Centre), for some lively conversation.
Launched by Terence Conran, Habitat revolutionised the British furniture market when it opened in 1964, but times have been tough of late, with the brand closing swathes of its stores last year and being purchased by a new company. So it is pleasing to see it embarking on a new, forward-thinking venture and acting as a catalyst for creative thinking.