Designersblock have been camping in this disused pub “until September” for eleven years. Co-founder Piers Robers has even lived here for much of that time. The pub closed in 1994 and because it is the only example of Victorian architecture on the street, isn’t allowed to be knocked down. It is owned by the Geffrye Museum and Designersblock are looking after it for them until they reclaim it… in September. I am very grateful to Bud Moore for inviting me to have a look around.
It’s a fitting space for an organisation known for their design shows hosted in disused buildings – the contrast between the shiny new design and the age and patina of their surroundings being a big part of the appeal. The ground floor is still very pub-like (with a fully stocked bar) and is regularly used for parties.
It’s also used as a workshop, resulting in gorgeous geometric patterns like this one on the work surfaces.
It’s when you get upstairs that it starts getting really interesting.
Scratch that, when you get to the stairs! I loved the contrast in colour and texture going on here. Little did I know what was waiting for me at the top.
The first surprise is that there’s no roof! Piers and his girlfriend Sarah Lloyd ripped that out – and replaced it with glass. It leaks a bit, but the effect is incredible – the whole upstairs is flooded with light.
Upstairs, one room, used as a break-out room for parties and a set for product shoots, looks particularly ‘Designersblock’ - desirable design set against a back-drop of delectable decay.
Elsewhere, the years show themselves in layers. The word “patina” is overused, but here it’s epitomised. I love the wear of time and the patterns it leaves behind – so I was in my element exploring this space.
There’s a library – mostly used I’m told, as a queuing space for the toilets, but also for film screenings and of course, storing books. The little house-shaped storage space, in the bottom left of the picture below, caught my eye.
One the windows features what looks like a bullet hole, but nobody knows what it is or how it got there. It makes for an unusual view of Hoxton overground, a development that’s turned this quiet corner of East London into the backdrop for a steady stream of fashion shoots.
Another room has become home to Patrick Stevenson-Keating, winner of Designersblock’s New Designers associate prize in 2011 for his Quantam Parallelograph. His prize was exhibition space in London and Milan and the chance to work here at Designersblock HQ, which not surprisingly, he jumped at.
The space is also used for more product photography shoots.
I’m sure by this stage in proceedings it won’t surprise you to know that there’s a shed in the bathroom…
…or a slightly disturbing duck-man-creature dancing over the bath? Nope, me either!
And just to prove some ‘proper’ work does actually get done in this amazingly creative space, I have to include a few pics of the office space – despite Bud’s protestations about the mess!
There’s plenty of loveliness to be found within all that chaos!
And if that wasn’t enough – they even have a little courtyard garden, complete with stuffed bird.
Further reading for the especially geeky: