Studio Loo is open for the Artists’ Open Houses in Brighton!

Yes – you may have heard us banging on about how we are open for the Artists’ Open Houses this May in Brighton, with our very special selection of design, graphics, illustration and homewares, but if you haven’t, we are open… why not pop along?

More details, map and stuff here…

AOH 2015

 

no public landscaping? just wheel one out…

There is so much that we missed when we were in Milan recently for the Salone del Mobile – and we are still discovering loads of exciting things that just skipped past without being seen… One such project is the rolling garden by the A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio, which saw moveable gardens literally roll into Milan to create pop up areas of public landscaping.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio, urban garden, Expo Gate Milano, Salone del Mobile, Why not in the garden?, urban garden, modular garden

Constructed from bases featuring old bike wheels, the colourful frameworks of ‘why not in the garden’ featured bench style seating and a variety of plants which could be simply and easily reconfigured into a range of configurations according to the need of the space.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio, urban garden, Expo Gate Milano, Salone del Mobile, Why not in the garden?, urban garden, modular garden

Plus, majority of the plants were edible, which is one of our personal obsessions – bringing the edible back into the centre of public landscaping rather than the usual municipal planting suspects.

Click to enlarge image A4A_whynotinthegarden_07.jpg

The real success of this little pop up though is the incredible flexibility it brought to the centre of Milan, with people congregating in different ways according to the pattern the rolling gardens were laid out in.

We are gutted that we missed this one!

(images via Inhabitat)

FAVILLA – to every light a voice – an innovative lighting installation by Ford and Attilo Stocchi

There have been many points in my life when I have wished that I spoke another language properly – mostly to make travelling easier on the embarrassment stakes, but sometimes because by not understanding, you realise that you are missing out on something quite special. And so it was when we saw a press preview of the Ford lighting installation, Favilla (to every light a voice) at the Salone del Mobile this year, which was formed of two, interlinked experiences.

FAVILLA external 2

The exterior installation was special, with a ghostly model of the new Ford GT being brought alive by all manner of projections, renderings and effects – many of which are used within the design stages of car production, with a great soundtrack to match.

FAVILLA external 1

Running for a couple of minutes, the GT was mesmerising with its changing skins of colour and pattern.

FAVILLA external 3

But, it was the internal installation, based in the same, black box structure that really stole the show for us. ‘FAVILLA – to every light a voice’ showcased the science of light and was curated by architect Attillo Stocchi in collaboration with Ford, examining and highlighting the way light moves in an immersive experience.

Waiting outside, we heard small rumblings of the installation and were soon gathered into the space – 27 of us – each standing on a small, white, numbered spot on the floor.

Plunged into darkness, a beautifully deep Italian voice began the narration as sections of the geometric internal panels were lit in shades of white, changing into forest patterns – perfectly supported by a stunning musical score. Patterns changed to soft light, clouds to fire and spotlights to fragmented light through the crystal which hung silently in the centre of the space.

FAVILLA internal

This was easily one of the most beautiful installations we had ever experienced, despite not understanding any of the narration, which is where the regret was felt. How much more powerful would the installation have been if we had understood? It was already incredibly moving, and after reading the English translation, perhaps even more so.

FAVILLA internal 1

As architecture fanatics, the structure itself was also a real statement, with the solidness of the black box exterior contrasting hugely with the Milanese buildings around, but the interior was particularly successful. The geometric forms of the panels in the building enveloped you in light and projections – making you feel like you were standing in the centre of a gemstone. It was both enclosing and spacious – plus, the decision to only let 27 or so people in at any one time meant that you had room to look around you and experience the whole installation.

FAVILLA internal 2

“A successful design requires more than pleasing aesthetics – it needs to connect with consumers, speak to their aspirations and pleasantly surprise them,” said Moray Callum, Ford’s Vice President of Design. “This installation takes visitors through an unexpected discovery process that perfectly reflects Ford’s philosophy that design is an emotional journey orchestrated around the customer.”

And this is exactly what the piece was. Truly beautiful and emotional- even when you don’t understand Italian…

See below for a behind the scenes view of FAVILLA…

(Photos by claire potter, video courtesy of Ford)

*** SPECIAL REPORT *** Ford showcases design innovation in Milan…

A few of you noticed that it was a little quiet here on The Ecospot these last couple of days – this is because we have just returned from a trip to Milan to see how Ford is pushing design innovation, and exactly how they fit into the Salone del Mobile festival…Ford GT stand 2 And this is an interesting point. Traditionally, the Salone del Mobile has been described as ‘the global benchmark for the home furnishing sector’, which does not really fit with the automotive sector. However, as we all know, design is multi-faceted and many areas flow into the next – including inspiration.

Ford stand

So, it was very interesting to see how Ford, who were the first automotive company to exhibit at Salone del Mobile in 2013, approach the subject of design philosophy and product design.

Of course, any car is the sum of multiple designers, iterations and decisions, but could the general philosophy of the design be applied to completely new sectors? This is the challenge that Ford set their global design teams. ‘Create an object with thought, not just styling that can be delivered with an efficient use of materials – using the philosophy of the new Ford GT interior design as inspiration’.

All-New Ford GT

126 proposals were returned from the in-house Ford Design team, ranging from a sandwich to a guitar – 10 of which were selected to be shown at the 2015 Salone del Mobile exhibition in Milan.Ford GT stand 3

So – why is this an important and interesting exhibition? As Moray Callum, Global Vice President of Design at Ford explained ‘we are not permitted to show the new Ford GT on the stand, but we are showing how stretchy and creative our designers are, along with an insight into the depth of design work that goes into creating any product’

Ford GT guitar

This refreshing and alternative way of representing the design thinking and concepts is also shown in the beautiful Ford FAVILLA installation that we will be featuring on The Ecospot later this week.

Back on the FORD stand, it was interesting to see the similarities in the designs themselves – although each piece was distinctly different, there was a common ‘thread’ that tied them all together. This could be described as the ‘design language’, but each piece had clearly been developed from the same philosophy. Clean, balanced, functional, highly detailed and in some cases, specialist.

Ford GT sailing yacht

This is why the collection, which ranged from the guitar to an LED clock (our personal favourite piece), a Foosball table to a chair, a racing yacht to a racing helmet were so successful…

In the question session, we asked the Ford Design team about whether any surprises were discovered within the submitted designs:

‘even though we will not be actually making these products in real life, we have discovered more about the passions of our designers and the breadth of their creativity, which will certainly feed into how Ford designers, design in the future’ explained Moray Callum.

Ford GT LED clock

And this is key. Design without passion is just not right. Something does not quite fit – and we are all becoming more and more sensitive to those types of design that are a little bit ‘designing for designs sake’. But, design with passion and real creativity? That is always clear – and there are great examples of how passionate designers think on the Ford stand this year.

***see the Ford Stand at Salone del Mobile – Fiera Milano Rho, Euroluce Pav. 13 until 19th April 2015***

(all photos by Claire Potter – video and GT interior courtesy of Ford)

Weekend words – life is good…

Life is good

2014 recap – September – the narrative of the Jerwood…

September and May are always two of the busiest months for us at the studio, with the Brighton Festival and the London Design Festival, but we managed to have a day off – and we went to the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings…

first published 8th September…

Sometimes it is good to do things on the spur of the moment, and yesterday was one such day. The sun was shining – the last hurrah of summer – and so with nothing else planned, a trip was hatched to visit Hastings, and specifically, the Jerwood Gallery which had an exhibition by Quentin Blake – a personal childhood hero.hastings Jerwood 6Even though I had not visited Hastings for a very long while, I remember far back in the depths of my architecture education when I became obsessed with the tall, pitched roofed net houses on the Rock-O-Nore road. There was something about the honesty of their construction, both in terms of orientation, structure and materials that made them incredibly appealing. Like stretched sentinels they stand over the Old Town beach, with the fishing boats and fresh fish huts below. I loved them.

hastings Jerwood 4So when I found out a while back that the Jerwood would stand within touching distance of my beloved net huts I was a little wary. Without a deep connection to this site, the new building could stick out like a very modern and very sore thumb. However, when I saw the resulting building on the pages of architecture blogs and the design press in 2012 I was delighted. The building looked sensitive yet unapologetic and well, fitted.

hastings Jerwood 7But – architecture is something that you experience, not read about. A well composed photograph will tell you so much, but it is not until you are in any space that youdiscover the delights of the building as well as areas which perhaps do not work as well. Noise, smell, light, how the building copes with few people, masses of people. How the building feels in its skin and its surroundings.

I was not disappointed. HAT have created a delightful building. Passing the fading ‘No Jerwood’ signs on Rock-O-Nore Road towards the gallery, it felt a little sad that a few of the local residents felt this way – and enough to keep the signs up well after the gallery’s opening.

hastings Jerwood 2

The immediate appearance blends beautifully with the surrounding net huts – the monolithic building is certainly wider, but being clad in black shimmering iridescent tiles both the literal cues and the poetic cues to the fishing buildings and heritage are apparent.

Hastings Jerwood 1And the building is exceedingly clever. It is always a personal marker of a great building when I become obsessed with the structure and details perhaps a little more than the objects that the building contains. Details and junctions between flooring, the slatted walls looking up towards the rooflights, the cor-ten steel signage, the oak handrails that already feel polished, the shadows cast across the concrete floors…

hastings Jerwood 3But, one of the areas that I was most impressed with was how the building dealt with its location. The net huts surrounding the building are not hidden. They suddenly appear, framed within floor to ceiling windows in galleries – so much so that their height and scale can be fully appreciated in a way that is not possible at ground level. The building at the top of the East cliff lift is also framed and celebrated too, along with the low timber clad fresh fish huts at the rear of the Jerwood.

hastings jerwood 5Even in the courtyard area, the net huts sit nicely above the lowered fence line and talk to the oily Jerwood tiles beside beautifully. Like distant cousins, but with a similar family trait. Pitched rooflights on the top of the Jerwood also mimic the roof lines of the huts, creating another line woven in the contextural success of the building.

The art, is of course, wonderful. Interesting, well displayed and beautifully lit. But for me, the building is the real stunner.

(Photos by claire potter)

2014 recap – July – the Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts…

We were delighted to visit the beautiful Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts in July – both for the type and the architecture…

first published 1st July 2014…

Last week we trotted up to the rather beautiful village of Ditchling, which sits on the northern side of the South Downs just above Brighton to attend a lecture by Simon Garfield about type. As well as looking forward to the lecture, we were also itching to see the buildings of the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft.

ditchling museum of art and craft We were certainly not disappointed. The architecture was absolutely beautiful with the Grade II listed cart house and original building being stunningly connected with a new addition by Adam Richards Architects. A really sensitive adaptation of the existing in an honest way, using traditional materials has resulted in a space that is not only contemporary in feel but one which also feels very much in respect of both its location and heritage.

ditchling museum of art and craft

Exposed rafters in the cart house, which acts as the entrance, shop and cafe show the original structure of the building beautifully, plus the numbered tour of the elements are a clear and minimal way to engage visitors with the architecture.

ditchling museum of art and craft

The exhibits and collections at the museum are rooted with the artists who are connected with Ditchling, plus there is a substantial type influence, as Eric Gill, the designer of the Gill Sans typeface was a resident of the village. All signage throughout the museum is in the typeface, with both lettering and symbols used to great effect.

ditchling museum of art and craft

There is also a significant amount of both lettering and print based exhibits from all ages, all displayed with sensitivity in a variety of interesting ways.

ditchling museum of art and craft

The Ditchling Museum of Art and Crafts is not a huge affair, but it is bursting with clever architecture, character and heritage, not to mention wonderfully enthusiastic staff and fantastically stocked shop.

Plus, the museum is currently a finalist for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2014

A must visit for print and architecture junkies alike. Which we are both.

(photos by claire potter)

2014 recap – June – an industrial styled hotel…

Back in June we went back to Berlin – again – to give a talk at the wonderful Universitat der Kunste on behalf of the Fixperts. Whilst we were there, we stayed in a marvellous hotel with some fantastic industrial styled interiors…

first published 12 June 2014…

Yesterday on the Ecospot we took our first look at the rather delicious Bikini Berlin hotel by 25hrs under the banner of our Wednesday Walls post, but today we are taking a general look at the communal areas of the hotel, which are also rather special. If you are into industrial styled interiors, raw materials, a bit of graffiti and lush planting, then this hotel is for you. Needless to say, I wanted to move in forever.

bikini berlin lounge

 

The 3rd floor, which functions as the reception area and is accessible from a terrace which leads out to the roof of Bikini Berlin concept mall really sets the tone for the rest of the hotel. Bright, modular furniture is paired with mid twentieth century styled pieces in greens, greys and the odd orange and pink, with neon lighting acting as wayfinding.

bikini berlin bakery

Planting features heavily throughout the hotel to create the ‘urban jungle’ effect, so planted walls, hanging planters and huge floor plants are everywhere, softening the rawness of the exposed concrete and wood that is used throughout also. Exposed ducting is bright and polished and unashamedly on show – an aesthetic that we tend to adopt also, rather than hiding it behind a suspended ceiling which can just create a feeling of low flatness.

bikini berlin worklabs

As with lots of hotels, Bikini Berlin comes with a few ‘perks’ – namely the fact that you can borrow an iPad to use throughout your stay, take one of the hotel’s MINI’s out for a spin around Berlin, and even use one of the three workstations on the lounge floor. Each of the workstations can be enclosed with a curtain for privacy and continue the industrial aesthetic with bulkhead lighting.

bikini berlin bike

Another of the perks to Bikini Berlin is that they have teamed up with Two Wheels Good, who have supplied bikes to the hotel for use by those staying – again for free. I had one in my room, plus there were others dotted about on stair landings and in reception – all on wall racks to keep them off the floor.

bikini berlin wall bike rack

With the short handlebars turned on the angle, the bike actually didn’t take up a great deal of room at all, which was both surprising and excellent.

The last area to the main reception was the beautifully detailed newscorner, with the daily papers on racks, ready to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee and a pastry baked in the wood burning oven bakery behind. The white metro tiles are a pretty standard ingredient in the industrial interior aesthetic and they fit beautifully here with the neon lighting and raw concrete. Even though it was a rather roasty 25 degrees when I was there, I could certainly see the appeal of sitting here with a good book and the stove alight.

bikini berlin newscorner

 

There are places in this world that you will visit and enjoy, and there are places that you will visit and feel both instantly at home and as if you never, ever want to leave. For me, with that quirky yet comfortable industrial interior and all those internal plants, Bikini Berlin has actually stolen my heart.

(all photos by claire potter)

2014 recap – April – Berlin visit photo special…

April already on our 2014 recap, and we are looking back at a photo special we posted after our trip to Berlin. Lots of clean lined architecture…

first published 8 April 2014…

Last weekend we tripped over to Berlin for a few days to do a bit of exploring. And we spotted a whole load of fantastic sights indeed, but it was not until we get back and were talking to other people about the trip – and the resulting photos – that we realised that we are subject to the ‘arty designy photo shot’ disease. We are unable to take ‘normal’ photos. We have to take photos in a range of strange shots. So, when we went spotting for lovely Berlin buildings, they were all on a bit of an extreme angles…

First up, we went to the fabulous Jewish Museum…

berlin buildings - the Jewish museum

Then we went up the Reichstag to visit the beautiful dome by Sir Norman Foster…

berlin buildings - the reichstag

berlin buildings - the reichstag

berlin buildings - the reichstag

And last up on the Berlin building extreme shot list is the wonderful, glass Hauptbahnhof…

berlin buildings - hauptbahnhof

berlin buildings - hauptbahnhof

berlin buildings - hauptbahnhof

Fabulous Berlin buildings – all on an angle…

(all photos by claire potter)

december wish list day 16 – Montezuma’s Chocolate…

If there is one time of year when you can legitimately eat mince pies and chocolate for breakfast – and nobody can say anything at all, it is Christmas. But, the fussy ones that we are, we do not want any old chocolate – we want chocolate that is organic and has strange flavours. We would like Montezuma’s Chocolate please…

Dark with Orange & Geranium

Based in West Sussex, Montezuma’s Chocolate started with one shop in Brighton in 2000 (and I actually happened to be in town that very day – and got to sample one of the best truffles I have ever tasted). Since then, Montezuma’s Chocolate has grown – and their bars can now be found in multiple locations as well as in Waitrose and other selected stores (like hiSbe) – which is an excellent thing indeed.

Treacle Tart

With flavours ranging from the standard milk, white and dark to orange and geranium, chilli and lime and treacle tart, these are certainly chocolate bars to be savoured. But, at around £2.49 or so a bar, they will not break the bank and are the absolute perfect treat for a Christmas stocking.

Sea Dog

Which one will we be hoping for? The Sea Dog – a mix of dark chocolate, lime and sea salt. Pretty much perfect…

So, if you can’t make it to one of their shops to sample the full range of buttons, truffles and other delicacies, head to one of their other stockists and grab the bars…

(images via Montezuma’s Chocolate)

weekend colour inspiration – birds and butterflies…

Today on weekend colour inspiration, we are looking at a few images we took at a recent visit in Brighton. The Booth Museum of Natural History is one of those places that we travel back to – looking at the wonderful cases of Victorian taxidermy to study pattern, juxtapositions, the building itself and of course, colour. Nature really does do colour best, be it for camouflage or showing off, and the birds and butterflies are a fantastic source of colour inspiration.

On this visit, we were looking specifically at brights – almost neons – and how the natural world puts these together in a way that works…

colour inspiration morpho butterflies

 

The Morpho butterflies, which hail from rainforests are the most incredible bright, metallic blue. They are also beautifully edged in black, which work fantastically in a dark and moody bar interior perhaps…
colour inspiration the indian roller bird

The Indian Roller bird has a good balance of neutral plumage and a lovely blue green shade – almond green as we used to call it. Throw in a bit of a teal blue and you have got a very interesting mix. The eye is what does it though. That orange red is a perfect foil for the blues and would be a great highlight colour. Being opposite in the colour wheel, blue and orange are always good pairings.

colour inspiration tropical birds

Last up we have two very different birds – one all about the colours and one all about the blue blacks. Very different and both incredibly striking. With the neon based green of the top parrot phasing through the mint green, black, purple and peach, we have a lot to play with. Pick two and run with them. Any more and it could get a little too club Tropicana. The crow like bird at the bottom gives lots of inspiration in a similar vein to the Morpho butterflies earlier, with the combination of black and blue sitting together. But what about the shine? Looking at the plumage we can see mint green, blue and purple, but there is also the essence of glossiness alongside the matt feathers.

What about a matt wall with a gloss pattern over in the same colour? Subtle but very effective…

So, if you are looking for a bit of colour inspiration, you could do far worse than looking at the natural world.

(photos by claire potter)

REVIEW – ‘A Taste of Sewing’ with The Maker’s Atelier…

I have always been an enthusiastic, but rather unskilled sewer. Many a day (and night) has been spent, wildly trying to create a dress from a vintage pattern for a party, or altering the garment that I had bought in a charity shop and needed a bit of adjustment – all with wildly varying levels of botching and overall success. So, it was with delight and slight trepidation that I recently attended the ‘Taste of Sewing’ experience at The Maker’s Atelier in Brighton, where in a day, I would learn to create a perfectly fitting pencil skirt using one of The Maker’s Atelier’s own patterns.The Maker's Atelier spaceFirstly, the space is beautiful. Being a real architecture geek, the location for the classes is calm and incredibly well thought out and detailed. A limited palette of whites through to greys, the main space has a huge open fireplace, equally huge wooden table (where we all ate a gorgeous lunch together) and perfectly reflects the collection that Frances Tobin, founder of The Maker’s Atelier has put together. With a cup of warming herbal tea we swapped stories of our own sewing experiences whilst we looked through the sample rail of clothes – including the pencil skirt that we would be creating. It was both inspiring and raised a few giggles of ‘well, mine won’t look like that!’

And so we moved to the sewing room, where we were taught about the directions of fabric, how to measure ourselves (properly) and how to correctly adjust the paper pattern, which was housed with our pins and tape measures in a Maker’s Atelier cotton bag, which was finished with a grey leather handle.Tobin_0560[1]Cutting the pattern was accompanied with a few cries of terror, but with reassurance from Frances, we all had two pieces of cut fabric for our skirts, in either our preselected  choice of gold or silver. My silver pieces were put to one side, and with the offcuts we all started practising with the sewing machines – working through the straight and zig zag settings that we would need to create the skirt.The Maker's Atelier sewing practiceMy initial fears of the sewing machine were short lived as they were a joy to work. Incredibly easy to adjust, I also learnt why my machine own at home has the occasional grump and what I can do to rectify it without resulting to expletives. We all sewed our scraps of material, practising lines and joins, stitch lengths and tensions. After a break for lunch – a delicious, healthy spread, juice and tea, we cracked on with the skirt.

Now. This is where it could have all gone a bit wrong. We all sat, waiting to see who would be the first to actually get their skirt going in the machine. We had been warned that the fabric needed attention as it could slip, and unpicking was to be avoided a possible (we were using a man made fabric where the holes would be evident), but, Frances was there to spot any disasters before they cropped up. Even though we all worked at different paces, none of us felt left behind and very soon, we were all nipping in and out of the bathroom, checking the fit of our skirts and adjusting as required.Tobin_0551_copy[1]The final step was to sew in one of the grey and white woven ‘The Maker’s Atelier’ labels into our skirt and watch proudly as it was wrapped in tissue and ribbon and placed in our cotton bags to be taken home. We all reflected  – in both excitement and relief – that we all had skirts to take home. Skirts that were created by us and fitted to our bodies.

But as well as the skirt, I took a great deal more away from the Taste Of Sewing day. The realisation of where I had gone wrong with my sewing in the past and how I could rectify it but also the confidence to want to do it again. How often had I created something and ended up with a sigh of ‘well, at least that is blinkin well done’ and shunted the sewing machine back under the bed.

Not any more. I already have plans of what to make next – more skirts in the same pattern (I quite like the idea of a copper one) and am eagerly eyeing up a few of the other patterns in The Maker’s Atelier range to test out my new found skill…

A fantastic way to spend a Sunday – creative, great fun, skilled, with wonderful support and in a gorgeous space. Highly recommended.

See more about the ‘Taste of Sewing’ courses at The Maker’s Atelier here (at the time of writing, the next one is on 14th December 2014 – make your own seasonal party skirt perhaps?)

(photos by claire potter and courtesy of The Maker’s Atelier)

Monday musings – the power of fixing – again…

Today on Monday musings, (and tomorrow as we are splitting what would otherwise be a very long post) we have a little run down of the activities we took part in last week for the wonderful London Design Festival, which unsurprisingly all had a bit of a tilt towards sustainable design and fixing and the circular economy in general. With our Fixperts hat on, we did a whole range of fixes over the week, plus visited a couple of great exhibitions too…

Fixperts and Sugru fixing Party 4First up, on Wednesday evening, we were delighted to be invited to be part of the Sugru ‘Love Your Stuff’ party at Look Mum, No Hands in Hackney. It was great – a celebration of items that people had owned, looked after and loved (which were then drawn on by four fantastic illustrators) and a celebration of fixing.

Fixperts and Sugru fixing Party 5We were there with the purpose of fixing as many things as possible – on the spot with low cost, fast solutions that we could teach others. As with the last Fixperts fix station we ran, we had a great response with many people bringing items that needed a bit of attention, from bike lights to headphones, bowls to a unicorn. We fixed what we could on the spot, and for those things that needed extra care, we sent people happily on their way with a shopping list and instructions for how to fix something. It was great.

Fixperts and Sugru fixing Party 3Plus, we were sitting next to the great Restart Project, which help people fix all things electronic – teaching people how to do it themselves and not just doing it for them. We ended up building bits to help fix the insides of a laptop that had been brought along – nothing electronic, but a few bits of components and supports that had been broken and rendered useless. We sat and thought about it, and with a bit of lateral thinking, helped the guy fix his laptop. This was a common discussion throughout the week – how design is not just there to solve problems, but also to empower people to be able to add to, fix and hack their own products – gaining confidence and ownership of their belongings…

Fixperts and Sugru fixing Party 2

(tomorrow on Monday Musings part 2 we will be looking at the rest of our London Design Festival activities…)

photos by claire potter)

SPOTTED – the London Design Festival…

We are pre-empting the start of the London Design Festival today, which runs in the capital from 13th – 20th September and this year will play host to over 300 events in 2014 over a wide raft of design disciplines.

We are delighted that we will be both visiting the London Design Festival and taking part in two events next week – more of which will be revealed on Monday…

But until then, here is a little video which introduces just what the London Design Festival is all about.

monday musings – the contextual narrative of the Jerwood…

Sometimes it is good to do things on the spur of the moment, and yesterday was one such day. The sun was shining – the last hurrah of summer – and so with nothing else planned, a trip was hatched to visit Hastings, and specifically, the Jerwood Gallery which had an exhibition by Quentin Blake – a personal childhood hero.hastings Jerwood 6Even though I had not visited Hastings for a very long while, I remember far back in the depths of my architecture education when I became obsessed with the tall, pitched roofed net houses on the Rock-O-Nore road. There was something about the honesty of their construction, both in terms of orientation, structure and materials that made them incredibly appealing. Like stretched sentinels they stand over the Old Town beach, with the fishing boats and fresh fish huts below. I loved them.

hastings Jerwood 4So when I found out a while back that the Jerwood would stand within touching distance of my beloved net huts I was a little wary. Without a deep connection to this site, the new building could stick out like a very modern and very sore thumb. However, when I saw the resulting building on the pages of architecture blogs and the design press in 2012 I was delighted. The building looked sensitive yet unapologetic and well, fitted.

hastings Jerwood 7But – architecture is something that you experience, not read about. A well composed photograph will tell you so much, but it is not until you are in any space that youdiscover the delights of the building as well as areas which perhaps do not work as well. Noise, smell, light, how the building copes with few people, masses of people. How the building feels in its skin and its surroundings.

I was not disappointed. HAT have created a delightful building. Passing the fading ‘No Jerwood’ signs on Rock-O-Nore Road towards the gallery, it felt a little sad that a few of the local residents felt this way – and enough to keep the signs up well after the gallery’s opening.

hastings Jerwood 2

The immediate appearance blends beautifully with the surrounding net huts – the monolithic building is certainly wider, but being clad in black shimmering iridescent tiles both the literal cues and the poetic cues to the fishing buildings and heritage are apparent.

Hastings Jerwood 1And the building is exceedingly clever. It is always a personal marker of a great building when I become obsessed with the structure and details perhaps a little more than the objects that the building contains. Details and junctions between flooring, the slatted walls looking up towards the rooflights, the cor-ten steel signage, the oak handrails that already feel polished, the shadows cast across the concrete floors…

hastings Jerwood 3But, one of the areas that I was most impressed with was how the building dealt with its location. The net huts surrounding the building are not hidden. They suddenly appear, framed within floor to ceiling windows in galleries – so much so that their height and scale can be fully appreciated in a way that is not possible at ground level. The building at the top of the East cliff lift is also framed and celebrated too, along with the low timber clad fresh fish huts at the rear of the Jerwood.

hastings jerwood 5Even in the courtyard area, the net huts sit nicely above the lowered fence line and talk to the oily Jerwood tiles beside beautifully. Like distant cousins, but with a similar family trait. Pitched rooflights on the top of the Jerwood also mimic the roof lines of the huts, creating another line woven in the contextural success of the building.

The art, is of course, wonderful. Interesting, well displayed and beautifully lit. But for me, the building is the real stunner.

(Photos by claire potter)