Architects: Holloway Li
- Area: 410 m²
- Year: 2021
Manufacturers: Bard & Blackwood, Bard & Brazier, Coalbrook, Domus Tiles, Drench, Havwoods, Menu Space, Natural Stone Projects, Solus Ceramics
- Director: Alex Holloway
- Project Lead Designer: Praveen Paranagamage
- Designer: Emily Mak, Stefanie Tao
- Metalworker: Steel & Form
- City: Clerkenwell
- Country: United Kingdom
Text description provided by the architects. Holloway Li unveils an experience-led showroom and co-working space in Clerkenwell inspired by the lost forms of the Industrial Revolution for bathroom brand Coalbrook. Coalbrook takes its name from the town of Coalbrookdale in the Midlands, the site of the world’s first iron bridge and cradle of the Industrial Revolution. Holloway Li’s design evokes industrial forms and materiality: the chimneys which towered over the skylines of cities, the searing heat of the furnaces and engine rooms, and roughly chiselled quarries.
Blurring the boundary between historicism, decoration, and digital process, Holloway Li worked closely with a network of master craftspeople to subvert the materiality of these industrial backdrops, eschewing traditional expectations of a showroom to form a surreal internal landscape. Other collaborators-in-residence exhibiting at the space include Danish furniture supplier Menu, lighting manufacturer Phos and The Stonemasonry Company, as well as housing Holloway Li’s own studio. Responding to Coalbrook’s design identity, Holloway Li researched the history of industrial forms and processes to create a unique way to engage with the brand narrative.
The space is designed around a series of industrial ‘casts’, used to display working products. The Ground Floor is designed to appear like a landscape of industrial chimneys, with ghostly casts of Victorian bathroom wall panels in piercing orange and amber resin. The Basement is a dark, watery space with the atmosphere of a subterranean engine room, occupied by two oversized industrial ‘boilers’ and wall panels moulded from cast iron. “Holloway Li interpreted our brief from a unique angle, tracing Coalbrook’s brand narrative back to Britain’s industrial heartland. In doing so, they have reimagined the showroom typology from the ground-up, creating a memorable space to experience the story of our brands beyond the possibilities offered by online channels.” Giuseppe and Pietro Corbisiero Founders and Owners, Coalbrook/ Davroc.
The highly specialised elements in the showroom were brought to life through a series of close collaborations between the designers and a network of master craftspeople. Holloway Li worked with client subsidiary brands Bard & Brazier to design display units fabricated from brass tubing, and with Bard & Blackwood on bespoke joinery. The resin casts resulted from a collaboration with a company that typically makes moulded interiors for London buses.
Holloway Li modelled the traditional form of a Victorian bathroom digitally, which was then cast in amber and red resin. “The traditional form of the cast (with decorative cornice and moulding detailing, cast tiles, and a sash window) is subverted by the materiality of the resin, which appears almost liquid. The resin ‘dematerialises’ the form of the cast, at points appearing crystalline, ethereal or fluid depending on the viewer’s position and angle of light.”