Creative disciplines collide in this London townhouse
During London Design Festival 2021, a Palladian mansion has been transformed into a hub of creative disciplines – ‘Design House’ – showcasing the work of independent brands, artists and designers within the storied setting. Built in 1770, the structure has been stripped to its core, its peeling walls and patina beautiful contrasting with the work of contemporary creatives shown within.
‘Design House’ pops up on London’s Cavendish Square
The ‘Design House’ group exhibition develops over the building’s three floors, with dilapidated walls and raw architectural details offering a striking backdrop to the diverse designs. The building’s architecture invites visitors to discover the house’s spaces and works on display, moving between rooms and exhibitions without set rules or paths.
The ground floor features an inviting domestic setting presenting Sebastian Cox’s latest furniture offerings, beautifully crafted in wood and including dining, living and bedroom collections. Showcasing a variety of wood species, techniques and scales, the room feels like an eclectic living space beautifully exemplifying Cox’s artisanal reach.
One room over, Bangalore and London-based design studio Tiipoi presents the ‘Siment 2.0’ collection, a series of brutalist-inspired planters and vases referencing Bangalore’s urban water towers, while Ruup & Form’s installation features works by a group of makers and designers exploring how art, material, and the dining experience connect.
A cavernous space at the back of the building is taken over by 1882 Ltd, presenting ‘The Tangerine Test’, featuring Max Lamb’s ‘Crockery’ collection. ‘The Tangerine Test is a tool used to assure the excellence of a piece,’ reads a text from the brand, explaining the exhibition design’s chromatic choice. ‘If the object looks good with a tangerine, then it passes the test and it’s ready for display.’
On the first floor, Isokon+ unveils its first collaboration with British designer Jasper Morrison. A cantilevered chair pushing engineered plywood to its limits, the ‘Iso-Lounge’ references the brand’s origins and Marcel Breuer’s 1930s designs with a decisively contemporary identity. ‘There are not many materials you could do this with to achieve a practical result,’ says Morrison, referencing the chair’s cantilevered structure and plywood construction. ‘I think moulded plywood and Isokon skill in producing it were key factors.’
‘Looking for a Certain Ratio’ is the title of graphic designer Angus Hyland and illustrator Marion Deuchars’ combined display, featuring paintings by Hyland and painted stones by Deuchars. ‘Creative people have to find creative outlets,’ says Deuchars in an interview produced for the occasion by Adrian Shaughnessy. Deuchars started painting on stones and pebbles as a calming exercise during lockdown, partly inspired by works by Max Ernst and found materials she had been collecting over the years.
‘For me, the work started with doodling on holiday and reacquainting myself with painting,’ says Hyland about his bi-dimensional geometric compositions. ‘In a sense, the paintings are pure design. As a graphic designer, you are quite often not responsible for the content of the work you make, so I leaned into that idea.’
Part of the top floor is taken over by Sebastian Wrong, who debuts his Wrong Shop Projects with an inaugural commission to artists Gijs Frieling and Job Wouters (working under the FreelingWaters aegis). The collection features 18th and 19th century pine cabinets, stripped and painted by the Dutch duo in bold and colourful graphic motifs that mimic wood and marble with the additions of words, names and poetry. ‘I love this hybrid creativity between Jobs and Gijs, crossing over into other disciplines, making really strong work,’ explains Wrong. ‘This creative hybridism is what initiated The Wrong Shop nearly ten years ago, presenting a new space to showcase credible artwork from notable designers who can explore their creativity beyond the boundaries of conventional art and design.’
The final room is a display of Jochen Holz’s sculptural lighting pieces. Made of free-formed borosilicate glass tubing, the fluorescent pink lights are defined by scrunched up, almost organic forms, and presented in different compositions and scales across the room’s bare walls. Holz also worked with Attua Aparicio on a special table lamp featuring a ceramic base by the multidisciplinary artist. §