Coalbrook’s showroom and co-working studio is inspired by the Industrial Revolution

Holloway Li have infused Coalbrook’s heritage with contemporary design codes

Stone staircase going down into basement with large boilers and grey metal flooring
The boilers and staircase in the basement
(Image credit: © Nicholas Worley)

Architecture and interior design studio Holloway Li were inspired by the mechanical codes of the Industrial Revolution for a new showroom and co-working space in London’s Clerkenwell. The Market Building, created for bathroom brand Coalbrook, encompasses the rich physicality of the era in an embrace of cast iron, brass and utilitarianist design.

Holloway Li nodded to the history of Coalbrook – which is named after Midlands town, Coalbrookdale, the location of the world’s first iron bridge – for the design which manifests itself in unexpected material pairings, resulting in a space which is both a showroom and a drop-in workshop, free to use for London’s design community.

Design units with machinery on display and two digitally crafted coloured resins (yellow and red) placed by windows in a room

Ground Floor- Resin Panels 

(Image credit: © Nicholas Worley)

Design units are created from brass tubing in a collaboration with Bard & Brazier, with bespoke joinery by Bard and Blackwood which sits alongside industrial casts displaying the products. The materials make an arresting foil for casts of brightly coloured resin, crafted from the digital models of Victorian bathrooms, and created in collaboration with a company who typically produce the sculpted interiors of a London bus. ‘The traditional form of the cast (with decorative cornice and moulding detailing, cast tiles and a sash window) is subverted by the materiality of the resin, which appears almost liquid,’ says Holloway Li creative director Alex Holloway. ‘The resin ‘dematerialises’ the form of the cast, at points appearing crystalline, ethereal or fluid depending on the viewer’s position and angle of light.’

In a subversive twist, it brings an arresting contrast to the ground floor, where they are set against what appears to be a background of industrial chimneys. And in the basement, the Coalbrook shower displays are framed against a backdrop of cast iron panels created with an Essex-based foundry, with chimneys and boilers the result of a collaboration with a new south London metalwork studio. The stone staircase leading down to the space, cut from a single block of limestone, is finished with rough edges, the result of being chiselled on site.

‘We explored forms and atmospheres which have a place in our collective cultural memory, whether as a result of live encounters or through references we have seen on film and television,’ says Holloway Li project lead designer Praveen Paranagamage. ‘These industrial forms are markers of a bygone era, and their power derives from their ability to conjure lost processes.

Working area with long brown wooden table and mathing cream and brown chairs in a room with blue walls, brown wooden floors and green pendant ceiling lights

Co-Working- Library View 

(Image credit: © Nicholas Worley)

Internal view of the large bronze coloured boiler in the basement

Basement- Boiler Internal View 

(Image credit: © Nicholas Worley)

Meeting room featuring black table with matching black chairs, White celiing lights with matching floor lights and window blurred window panel

Co-Working- Meeting Room 

(Image credit: © Nicholas Worley)

Upclose of the digitally crafted red coloured resins in a room by the window with a peek of a red london double decker bus

Ground Floor- Amber Resin & Short Chimney

(Image credit: © Nicholas Worley)


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.