British Designers Craft for the Crown

Two radically different design installations will celebrate London’s craft heritage.

Multifaceted furniture and product designer Lola Ley and the RCKa architectural practice became members of Her Majesty’s Design service last week, after their submissions won the Ground Floor Project, an initiative by the non-profit Architecture Foundation. Their winning installations will grace landmark buildings in St. James in Central London owned by The Crown Estate, which is planning a $500 million investment plan, and will add a bespoke finish to the entryways of two historic buildings when they’re finished this fall.

At 11 Waterloo Place, RCKa’s concept, “Acoustitch,” adds contrast to the bright marble floors with bold, geometric wall patterning. High-density foam triangles, in the shape of Toblerone bars, replicate contrasting patterns and are highlighted by a final polished gold copper sheet, a fine stitch that speaks to the area’s history of high-end weaving and bespoke men’s tailoring. It softens the space visually and acoustically.

“We spent time analyzing and thinking and how we can engage with the entire space and leave a memorable impression on the wall itself, with reference to the history of the area, something that’s bold and contemporary,” says Dieter Kleiner, RCKa’s director. “This area was more of a melting pot, with lots of different crafts, which informed our idea. Contrasting fabrics that come together picks up that idea of a melting pot."

At 12 Charles II Street, Lola Ley’s “The Cosmology of St. James,” a kinetic sculpture of leather, metal and glass, will reflect the neighborhood’s traditions, incorporating shoe patterns by John Lobb Bootmaker’s and the influence of famous residents, such as Sir Isaac Newton, who lived on Jermyn Street.

“For him, it was all about innovation and understanding the world,” says Ley. “I wanted to make that connection with craft and making, St. James as a whole universe itself. It’s a small, mysterious world with bespoke crafts and big, grand houses with palatial facades. You have these different satellites and different hubs. The cosmology idea illustrates planet’s orbits.”

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