The sky's the limit: How designer Simon Jordan turned a fireworks factory into a cosy flat
How do you make a flat with mile-high ceilings feel homely? Designer Simon Jordan has the answers
Sunday 30 November 2008
I didn't come to this flat in east London with any particular look in mind. I think that when you find a new space, you need to focus on the place itself and try to find a kind of truth in it, to reveal a hidden potential that is already there. The starting points for me here were the open-plan nature of the space, the materials already used and the history of the building. This conversion is part of an old Victorian fireworks factory, so I wanted to keep an industrial feel. The stools, for example, are beautiful pieces but they also have a utilitarian style that wouldn't look out of place in a workshop.
At the same time I wanted to create a very comfortable, cosy living space so I have tried to pick things that have softer textures to round off the edges a little – the natural paper lightshades, for example.
As it is such a big space in terms of ceiling height, you have to pick furniture and objects that have a bit of confidence. Colour is one way to do that, which is why I picked the green table from Established and Sons – it has presence. The coloured salt and pepper grinders on the shelf, which I found at the Design Museum in Copenhagen, are a nice example of not always going for the obvious.
Overall, I suppose it has quite a Scandinavian feel but it's not deliberate – I just happen to like things that are quite crafted but also utilitarian and that's something they do well in that part of Europe. They get the level of design just right, which is great because these days even saucepans are over-designed.
The shelving unit on the wall appealed to me because it is a very pared-down, modern interpretation of the traditional dresser. It's made from bronze-anodyzed aluminium and is designed by German architect Tom Kuhne, who also makes furniture.
The robots are part of an obsession I've had for years. There's nothing to it – I just like the look of them as objects. I picked these up in a toyshop in Japan.
I've worked with lots of different spaces over the years with my design company and I think the important thing is to realise how every element has a relationship to another. To create that harmony you have to treat things as being interconnected, rather than focusing too much on the individual pieces. That's why it's fine to mix up inexpensive bits with higher-end pieces. If you go too strong with one element you lose the balance entirely.
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