Interiors: Space 1999
In the second of a series on work-home spaces, Chloe Grimshaw visits the hi-tech world of Cyberdog, also known as clothes designers Terri Davy and Spiros Vlahos. Photographs by Josh Pulman
Saturday 20 February 1999
The Cyberdog empire is based in London in a Grade I listed building in Camden Market Stables. Its warehouse is in Canning Town, the undeveloped part of Docklands which Terri describes: "You've got Canary Wharf and all the modern architecture, which I love, and then all this dilapidation which I really love as well, and then there are the docks with all the buildings falling down, the scrapyards and the river." From here the Cyberdog clothes are shipped all over the world.
There are two Cyberdog shops in London, in Camden Town and Covent Garden, and one in Ibiza for the summer clubbers. The shops are usually pitch black, with fluorescent clothes and loud music. Terri and Spiros admit that it's a bit crazy but the staff are young and fun and if they can run around and play loud music it does create a good atmosphere. Spiros tells me with a touch of pride that their music is twice as loud as in the Red or Dead shop. The Covent Garden store even has a sprung floor, like a nightclub, so customers can dance around. "The shops are very important for us because that's where you see the whole vibe," says Terri. "It's the decoration as much as the clothes."
One of the most eye-catching features of the Covent Garden shop is a spacey sculpture. "It's made by a friend of ours called Vincent Jones, a very eccentric artist like a mad professor. He basically collects junk and makes it interesting, recycling it into sculptures."
Two years ago, the couple moved with Eros, their four-year-old son, into a suitably idiosyncratic house. They managed to buy one of the houses behind Camden Town Sainsbury's alongside the Regent's Canal (in which I declare my interest - they were designed by my father, Nicholas Grimshaw). These houses look like silvery-grey space pods. From an unprepossessing start in the Sainsbury's car park, you walk through a small service door cut into a piece of corrugated aluminium into a double-height living space with huge white walls, wooden floors and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Working from home is a source of inspiration for Terri and she enjoys the peace and quiet. She is passionate about the house and uses this as a source of ideas for her work: "I love hi-tech, I'm really into technology and that influences me in the design of the clothes. Those are the aspects I really love about the house." She sometimes finds it annoying when her home and work are described as "futuristic". "We're always getting referred to as `futuristic fashion', but what is the future? You don't know what it's going to be, it's just trying to be at the cutting edge. The clothes I design reflect the times we're in, they might be progressive but they are for now. It's the same for the house - it's not a futuristic pod or a glass house in a Martian landscape."
Terri and Spiros' favourite objects in the house sometimes seem to reflect an elevation of style over content. They bought their stereo because they liked the design and had no idea what it would sound like until they got it home. Luckily it works quite well. They acknowledge that they are "suckers for anything gadgety and have bought things we really liked the look of that are actually really useless".
Favourite items of furniture are unusual pieces from the Sixties which Terri and Spiros have scoured shops and markets for. On the whole Terri says she is anti-retro but the Sixties era appeals to her because it is quite space age. Spiros loves the Perspex bubble chair with matching foot stool for extra comfort, from where he can gaze out of the window at the canal. He is planning to attach an extra arm to the chair to hold his new iMac computer. The whole family piles on to the sofa from Twentieth Century Design in Islington, which can also flatten out to become a bed. Terri says they often have the sofa "flat with cushions on the back and we all lay there like real couch potatoes and watch telly or movies or football."
When the family actually retire to sleep, it's to a highly unusual bed. "We didn't have a bed, so we designed one," Spiros explains. "I always think that the house is half spaceship, half ship, and with all the hi-tech aspects, it's a bit like a shuttle. The bed was in keeping with the ship theme and it's also a bit of a wrestling ring. Eros was a baby then and I knew that if he rolled about he couldn't fall out. He loves it here."
Being space-conscious, the Cyberdog family are looking forward to the next millennium. They would like to open a cybercity for techno people of all ages, either on earth or out in space. They even fantasise about opening a Cyberdog City on the moon or in a space station, to welcome the first tourists from earth into cyberspace
Next week: Priska Weems and Ollie Higson's Shoreditch cottag
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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