Decorum Explores: Clerkenwell Design Week

Clerkenwell Design Week is probably the most relaxing of all the design events in London. It feels more organic and little slower than the rest. As you wander out of Farringdon station and over to the heart of Clerkenwell you feel a slight wave of calm wash over you.

It’s probably something to do with the heavily pedestrianised areas, and almost definitely the abundance of trees, but it’s also the sense you get that this village-like area of central London is the urban heart of craftsmanship and design in its purest form.

decorum explores clerkenwell design week sebastian cox

Here at Decorum we are big fans of Sebastian Cox. We couldn’t wait to see his and Laura Ellen Bacon’s ‘Invisible Store of Happiness’. I made it one of my first stops upon my arrival and was overwhelmed by the scale of the final object.

Each component had been individually handcrafted and the intricate placement of these pieces formed a stunning aesthetic that perfectly complemented the story behind it.

Although not always a fan of conceptual design pieces, the simplicity and beauty of this one really drew me in.

decorum explores clerken well design week icon house of culture

ICON magazine played host to a range of luxury design brands at the ICON House of Culture. When I arrived (sheltering from the intermittent rain and hail) I fell head over heels in love with the venue. I’ve seen The Old Sessions House from the outside before, but to explore the undone interior and revel in the unmanaged décor was quite the experience.

Now under new, creative ownership, I’m curious to see how this beautiful building will be presented to future generations.

decorum explores clerkenwell design weekIcon house of culture gubi

It’s no secret that I have a bit of an obsession with Scandinavian design. GUBI are one of my favourites. I wasn’t at all surprised to see a diverse collection of new and existing products in a range of finishes that you can’t tear your eyes away from.

What did surprise me, in an entirely pleasant manner, was how well this incredibly contemporary brand (albeit featuring some original, older designs) suited ICON’s chosen venue. The luxurious velvets and marbles elegantly offset the plaster walls, creating a unique visual attraction in a sea of contract furniture showrooms.

decorum explores clerkenwell design week Vitra prouve raw 1

I’ve very publicly stated that I’m not a fan of clothing and interiors brands collaborating on furniture design. However, Vitra and G-Star RAW’s Prouvé RAW collection is different. Honest.

decorum explores clerkenwell design week vitra prouve raw 2

Over 70 years after their creation, the two brands have revived a range of office furniture pieces designed by Jean Prouvé. The project was initially commissioned to furnish G-Star’s HQ in Amsterdam, but it has translated beautifully into a signature product line. This is the sort of organic collaboration I can actually connect with on a creative level.

Once again, I walked away from Clerkwenwell with questions, opinions and wish-lists of products. In my opinion, that’s how design events should always leave you.

Decorum Explores: Casamatera

Casamatera is a unique project and design collaboration that caught my eye at this year’s May Design Series, with its well thought-out designs, inspiring story and international mission.

casamatera intro daily decorum

The project was born when Matera, a city in the Italian region of Basilicata, was nominated to become the European Capital of Culture 2019. The nomination triggered the Mapping Basilicata project, whose mission is to promote Italian excellence on an international scale.

Casamatera is the interiors arm of the project – a brand manufacturing furniture and home accessories inspired by the natural beauty and heritage of the Basilicata region.

casamatera basilicata daily decorum

An interesting aspect of the collaboration is that all the designs in Casamatera’s first collection were created in partnership with international designer-makers. These result in a fresh new take on Italian culture, interpreted through the prism of the Japanese, Russian and other backgrounds of its designers.

casamatera kitchen daily decorum

casamatera kitchen 2 daily decorum

Cave Kitchen, with its sleek form and organic finish, is by far my favourite design from the collection. The design is inspired by Basilicata’s caves, with their rough exteriors and contrasting rich interiors. It is a perfect combination of a polished, elegant look and the industrial style.

casamatera shelving 2 daily decorum

casamatera shelving daily decorum

casamaera shelving 3 daily decorum

The Agra Mater Pantry System caught my attention with its simplicity and flexibility of design – changing its use depending on personal needs and habits. Its design was inspired by the life of Matera’s inhabitants: using the city as one large house, a sharing space. The shelves can be fully customised with different types and sizes of containers – from vases and boxes to natural fridges – using the properties of terracotta to keep produce cool.

casamatera chaise longue daily decorum

Casamatera’s Chaise Longue is its their most eccentric design. It plays on the contrasts of natural materials found in Basilicata, from its bright, clean spaces to its large rock formations. While the huge pile of cushions might make the design seem intimidating, as soon as you sit on the chaise longue the cushions offer comfort and shelter, with the other part of the design balancing its weight.

Having launched in the UK only this week, I look forward to seeing the Casamatera collaboration grow. Who knows – maybe on my next trip to Italy I’ll be exploring Basilicata myself.

Little Luxuries: Bellerby & Co Globes

When Peter Bellerby made the seemingly straightforward decision to buy a globe for his father’s 80th birthday, little did he know that he was at the start of an amazing journey of discovery that would ultimately lead to a new business.

When he began his research, Peter was disappointed to find that his choice appeared to be limited to mass-produced modern political globes or delicate, impractical antiques. He discovered that the vast majority of globes on the market were inaccurate and poorly finished. So he decided to make his own. ‘How difficult can it be to make a ball and put a map on it?’, he thought to himself.
Well, pretty difficult, as it turns out…

Peter

What followed was an incredible learning curve during which Peter discovered that maps are riddled with errors and perfect spheres are, in fact, rarely perfect. Teaching himself how to ‘gore’ a globe (apply the triangular sections of a map) took 18 months to perfect, but with great persistence and precision Peter mastered the processes.

Livingstone globe

Britannia floor-standing globe

Now, several years on, Bellerby & Co is recognised around the world for its expertly crafted globes, which are handmade using traditional and modern techniques by a small team of globemakers in Peter’s beautiful North London workshop.

Bellerby & Co workshop

Bellerby & Co workshop detail - mini globes

Detail of globes being painted

The painstaking detail and exquisite craftsmanship that goes into the creation of Bellerby globes make them real investment pieces, much like a painting. They would make a wonderful and no doubt much treasured gift for jet-setters, adventurers or map enthusiasts.

Globe with personalised engraving

They can even be personalised with an engraving of your choice.

We love it when a personal interest or passion develops into a successful business – and what a shining example Bellerby & Co Globemakers is of this. Bellerby globes now grace homes, businesses and yachts around the world; they’ve even had supporting roles in TV productions and Hollywood movies!

The full collection of globes can be seen here. The mini desk globes can be bought online and can also be found in Harrods. Read the full story of how Bellerby & Co came to be born on their website – it’s an inspiring tale of determination and hard work.

 

 

Decorum Loves: Brutalist architecture

Brutalist architecture was a movement that made its first deceptively cold appearance in the 1950s, remaining prevalent until the mid-1970s.

Recent late night Internet trawling (not to be confused with trolling) has revealed to me that the term ‘brutalist’ has slightly more elegant etymology than I previously suspected. Its origins are, ironically, in the beautiful and sophisticated language of French. ‘Béton brut’ translates as ‘raw concrete’ and this is how Le Corbusier (another one of my heroes) referred to this striking building material.

Subsequently, prominent English architecture critic Reyner Banham adapted the French wording and christened the movement ‘new brutalism’. Et voilà! Brutalism as we know it was born.

Daily Decorum Loves Brutalist Architecture  Hayward Gallery 1

In order to combat my personal architectural indecision I took to social media to find out what the design voices of twitter love in London.

Daily Decorum Loves Brutalist Architecture Hayward gallery 2

Recently launched architecture and design digital magazine, The Spaces, nominated The Hayward Gallery as their top pick. Constructed as an addition to the Southbank Centre arts complex, The Hayward Gallery was built by Higgs and Hill and opened on July 9th 1968.

Daily Decorum Loves Brutalist Architecture Trellick Tower

Echoing my cries of adoration, photographer Nick Miners chose residential Trellick Tower, a block of flats in North Kensington designed by Ernö Goldfinger and commissioned by the Greater London Council in 1966. All 98 metres of the tower were completed in 1972 and it is now a grade two listed building.

Daily Decorum Loves Brutalist Architecture Barbican

Modernism commentators This Brutal House went with the crowd pleaser of the bunch. Undeniably beautiful, The Barbican is one of the defining features of the City of London. Containing the Barbican Arts Centre and the Museum of London, The Barbican is a residential estate built on land devastated by the Second World War.

Designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, the complex was built between 1965 and 1976.

Daily Decorum Loves Brutalist Architecture Welbeck

If you’re as guilty as the rest of us of not always looking up at our surroundings, you might know Present and Correct’s choice of brutalism better for the incredible burgers served in the Meat Liquor nestled on the ground floor.

Not a block of flats or a public gallery, the NCP car park on Welbeck Street, just off Oxford Street, is one of London’s unexpected treasures.

Burgers and brutalism are my favourite combination. I’d highly recommend taking a walk around London to check out the architecture, making sure you make Welbeck Street your final stop.

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