Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Grand Design Live 2014 - Kevin's Green Heroes

Just a quick note to let you know that I've been selected as one of Kevin McCloud's Green Heroes which means I'll be showing at Grand Designs Live in Birmingham, Details can be found HERE
I will be showing four brand new pieces, made in my new Margate home, hope to see you there

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Last Few Days at James Decor, Cliftonville, Margate

 Around a year ago when searching for a new home i noticed that James Decor in Cliftonville Margate was up for sale due to retirement. It has now sold.
Automatically recognised as a building of some note yet it failed to make an appearance in a local conservation report in recent years. Built as a grand car showroom and office space in a once glamorous high street, it still retains many of its original features in remarkably good condition. Now the shop is almost cleared it would only take a lick of paint and a few period hanging lights to be mistaken for the day it was built. This is definitely one of the best preserved showrooms in the country...
above: a picture of the car showroom when first opened hangs on the DIY shop pegboard wall
below: the interior today with the shop inventory almost sold out

OPEN - but sadly not for much longer
call THANET 24216
 Today, the original external Brass, Bronze and Mahogany framed windows and doors are still in place with elaborate marble and plaster details breaking the shopfront...
 large windows facing all pedestrian walkways/road sides for maximum light and visibility, the red painted boards (above and below) have been used in recent years to protect glass from vandalism, modern roller shutters would have damaged the fronts.

 What does the future hold for this beauty?
Since construction the property has serviced three main businesses, originally a car showroom, then a Gas and appliance showroom/shop who added the dark oak panelling wrapping around the ground floor and since the 1980s it has been home to the James Decor DIY store.
James Decor moved to the property from a former location in Sweyn Road (see below), Now a second hand shop. They moved to the new location partly due to the large customer car parking area to the side of the showroom, But as the property came up for sale i felt that this car park might spell the end for this beautiful building as the site is a developers dream come true when levelled. 
 So as another nail hits the coffin for independent hardware stores, its not all doom and gloom for 292 Northdown Road as the new owners plan to refurbish rather than rebuild opening a veterinary surgery with customer parking so hopefully the building gets to fight another day with the new owners....

 Above: James Decor added modern perspex signage to earlier metal framed light box locations
Below: original mahogany double doors with fan light and brass/bronze details 

 the superb ceilings are in amazing condition, hopefully they survive with the new owners...

 independent hardware stores, a very rare find on the high streets today...
 ...not much left...

 above, my first and last ever 'Selfie' in the private office security door
 ...you can't get an off-cut of plywood in B&Q for 30p !

 ...Fantastic Plastic...Fantastic Prices...

 ...many hand painted signs that will soon be gone forever...
 ...back door to the carpark. I didn't know the shop for very long as I'm new to the area but it's still sad to think that this will be the last time I see this interior, please look after it... 
James Decor - 292 Northdown Road
(almost) gone but not forgotten

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Pattern & Texture Study : Street surfaces in Cliftonville

 Since relocating to Margate I've spent a lot of time developing a crick in my neck gazing at the sky and the architecture. On todays walk to the shops i decided to look down, recording my journey over the wild menagerie of floor surfaces. If i had thought about it i might have worn something other than my work clothes, but here it is, todays walk in Cliftonville, as recorded on my iPhone. Real camera needed.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Cox tubular steel furniture. Meeting Mr.Cox / New acquisitions

Andrew Cox with a selection of one-off furniture prototypes
followers of this blog or my work might know that i'm a british tubular chair geek. Sometime last year, Adam Hills of Retrouvius called me, "I've got someone you might want to meet".
After years of assembling an archive of the british tubular steel chair industry i was always led to believe that no manufacturers archives were in existence. until now.
Adam arranged a meeting for me with Mr Andrew Cox (seen above), third generation Cox of Watford Limited, manufacturers of transport seating & metal furniture and in my mind, the leading and far superior name in tubular steel furniture. For many years the Cox family stored a large collection of production samples & prototypes in a number of barns. Adam Hills has found a safe home for many larger pieces but Mr.Cox very kindly invited me to select a number of pieces for my own archive. I can safely say this might be the best hoard I've ever found.
Every piece given is unique to my collection, designs that I've never seen before, designs that never found their way into catalogues. I will be recording every item in the coming months, the majority needs major restoration due to years of barn storage but every piece is unique and incredibly rare. I hope to publish a book and exhibit the collection one day. 
for this blog post i am just showing a few of the pieces you can see surrounding Mr.Cox in the picture above...
 above/below: (chair on left) i thought i had just about every variation of frame design made, but then along comes this very short version, also discovered in a 'sledge' leg base design. Unsure if this is an attempt at a childrens chair, the adult scale and lean to the backrest suggests it may be an adults beach or lawn concert chair.

 above/below: This is perhaps this most important and rarest piece in my collection. When Mr.Cox (Andrew's father) announced that he was having a child, the factory made him a cot. made from the same tubular steel used to make chairs and what ever could be found in the Watford factory.
below: By the same school of thought that a rare plywood leg splint is coveted by the Charles Eames collector, a Cox stretcher is surely the holy grail of all Cox designs to me. however, the design may seem fimilair to Londoners, many hundreds were recycled after the war to replace iron railings removed around churches, you can often spot them around modernist council estate green areas.
during the war, the Cox factory workers skills & machinery aided the war effort producing tubular steel stretchers with a grid mesh infill. as with many Cox pieces, these were designed to interlock and stack together tightly.

above/below: large table, unsure if this is a dining or work table, great simple cross stretcher design, one of many table variations discovered
...this is just a very small sample of the pieces found, much more coming soon. Thank you to Adam Hills at Retrouvius and Andrew Cox for his outstanding kindness and support.