Social Togetherness: Alex Mowat in Conversation

On May 16, 2020 · 0 Comments

Today we’re talking to architect Alex Mowat as part of our Social Togetherness series.

Where is home for you?

Camberwell, South London. A timber house that was built in 1970, the year I was born. I think of it as my “architectural twin”.

What are the highlights of your home working day?

Everyone in our architect’s practice joins a 9 am “sign-in” and 6 pm “sign-out” video call every day. We swop experiences about eggs, baby blankets, Eccles cakes and good songs. These small things and the routine are keeping us going.

What creative pursuits are you doing now that you ordinarily wouldn’t manage if the world were at its normal place?

Whist trying to keep a regular routine, I have found the time to help the charity, Woodland Heritage. We are re-designing the sawmill at Whitney-on-wye in Herefordshire. We want to be able to increase our capacity for milling timber from Britain’s great estates for beams, boats, furniture and door handles. The mill will also extend its base for training, learning and sharing.

Are you learning a new skill?

The super-fast spread of the corona virus shows us how easy it is to spread animal and plant disease un-naturally across the world. Many people are rightly reconnecting with food and farming. For the furniture, design and construction industry it will mean a bigger focus on local materials.  With my morning coffee in a beautiful Standard Ware Mug by Leach Pottery I am reading my collection of old books on indigenous timber, learning each tree’s Latin name and their traditional uses and qualities. (Full Disclosure: not huge success on the Latin so far).

What positive change might come from Covid-19?

We might learn to value our parents and elders more in society. Their wisdom, stories and experience are the relay race baton they pass on. They tell us how to run the race when it gets hard. I am lucky to have generous and fun parents as well as many wise industry contacts and mentors in design, construction and forestry.

Interesting projects for later this year?

We are currently working on a social housing building and 12 individual homes for rent, both starting construction when the lockdown is eased. A new infill office building in the small lanes near Covent Garden, the “up-cycling” of an old institutional building in South London and a new way of using a collection of old barns in North London.

What would be your wish for a new piece of furniture or lighting?

Newness is not always something I strive for but my wish starts with:

Something grown locally, something made locally, something that will get better with age, something beautiful and strokable.

Something made by one of our great manufacturers like Ercol, Very Good and Proper, Benchmark, Gaze Burvill, Young and Norgate, Another Country or Sebastian Cox……….

Many thanks to Alex for taking the time to talk to us. Join us next week for the next instalment of Social Togetherness.


Milan Design Week 2019

On April 24, 2019 · 0 Comments

This month the twentytwentyone team made their annual trip to Milan Design Week, attending the world-renowned Salone del Mobile, Euroluce lighting exhibition and various design events held across the city. Here the furniture and lighting industry showcase the latest in cutting-edge design, product launches and new collaborations from around the world.

Preview new works by established and break-through designers in our Milan 2019 photo report.


Milan Furniture Fair 2018

On April 24, 2018 · 0 Comments


Milan Furniture Fair 2018

Last week the twentytwentyone team made their annual pilgrimage to the Milan Salone del Mobile, the world-renowned design and furniture event.

Inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of the designs on display, we wanted to share the experience with you. Take a look at new works launched by established and up-and-coming designers in our Milan 2018 album.

To receive regular updates on the designers and the furniture, lighting and accessories that are inspiring us, sign up for our newsletter here.

Post war and brutalist architecture

On November 27, 2013 · 0 Comments

The term Brutalism was derived from the French ‘Béton brut’, or raw concrete, and the expression became associated with a movement emerging in postwar British architectural offices.
The British public share a love-hate relationship with this strong architectural language. The monumental Preston bus station by BDP is the most recent dispute on the value of Brutalist architecture.
Significant buildings such Robin Hood Gardens and Birmingham City Library await demolition. Others such as the ‘Get Carter carpark’ by the Owen Luder Partnership have already been eradicated.

Read below some further information by Simon Phipps whose new blog dedicated to post-war and brutalist buildings can be accessed from here.

Brutalism’s properties were characterised by the critic Reyner Banham in the Architectural Review, December 1955:
1, Formal legibility of plan;
2, Clear exhibition of structure,
3, Valuation of materials for their inherent qualities “as found”.
Banham further argued that great architecture derives from the correct interaction of structure, function and form whilst also requiring a necessary conceptual element in order to have ‘memorabilty of image’.
Although the brutalist tendency in post-war British Architecture has been assailed both by derision and real antipathy, Brutalist Architecture as realised by such practitioners as Erno Goldfinger, Sir Denys Lasdun and Rodney Gordon is now universally recognised for it’s expressed structure and exposed materials of concrete, block and brick. These qualities sitting alongside a-formality and anti-geometric plans allow for the necessary conceptual content that makes some of these building ‘great’ and provides ‘memorability of image’.

Simon Phipps photographed a number of buildings that sit within a loose Brutalist principle and rather than present them as photographic prints have produced them as monochrome images printed directly onto an aluminium substrate. I felt this would capture the idea of ‘valuation of materials “as found”, whilst aluminium also resonates with concrete as a material in it’s visual neutralness.

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