We decided to shoot our Autumn Winter 2022 lookbook locally, in a building that is pleasingly true to its mid-century roots. Entering it is almost surreal - the plush burgundy velvet carpets and camel-coloured leather-clad seating are right out of a Mad Men mise-en-scene. The venue appealed to us on a few levels. Firstly, it felt appropriate to use a local landmark, given that we are a luxury interiors brand based outside of London, which is increasingly rare! Secondly, the centre has a distinctive architecture that makes it stand out, even in the bricolage of buildings that make up the city centre. It was completed in 1968 and is characteristically modernist, with some dramatic sculptural and mural details that could tip into the ‘radical modernist’ designation - buildings constructed with utopian social ideals in mind.
This felt like a great place to showcase the collection for its history, its uniqueness and its continuing functionality as a site of civic participation. We see in our collections the same richness in meaning without sacrificing purpose. Making our items hard-wearing and practical is as important to us as making them desirable as luxury objects.
On the day itself, we didn’t have much time to take it all in before we set about our busy shooting schedule. Experienced interiors photographer James Balston drove up from London to shoot our new pieces. Susi herself creatively directed a vision that was at once playful, but also slightly uncanny, using the civic centre’s futuristic architecture and sweeping spaces to our advantage. A faceless figure moves through the space, always on her way to the next appointment, elegant but slightly strange. Our ‘retrofuturist reverie’ is dreamlike but pragmatic, eerie yet familiar.
A 1960s modernist chair that had been upholstered in one of our grain-inspired fabric designs appears, almost as though it has been transplanted from another world, in the courtyard of the Civic Centre. We played with the geometry of the building and the geometry of our designs, one bold and pronounced, and ours by contrast more textual and subtle. We draped our velvet fabrics in an empty cloakroom, suspended against a thick curtain and taking on an almost ghostly form were it not for their colourful motifs. The parchment paper beige-cladded walls make the thick brushstrokes of our designs stand out even more. It all creates a sense of otherworldly glamour, despite the range being grounded in the visual language of nostalgia.
The overall result is a lookbook that we feel demonstrates the versatility of a retro colour palette, both in our range and as a backdrop for it, as well as a playful invasion of empty office spaces with tone and form. This moves towards restoring what we were missing all of those months over lockdown and what we can now start to rediscover. Whether it is about making your place of work feel more like home with a comfortable cushion or generous wool shawl to wrap around your shoulders, or about making a home somewhere you can switch off from the professional setting, merging comfort and colour should be the top priority.