A new side of Clerkenwell
20th January 2017
I think sometimes I forget just how cool it is that I live and work in London, and I really shouldn’t forget that because London is one of the best cities in the world and I am very lucky to be able to enjoy all of its little quirks and kooks and beautiful bits every single day.
Letty and I have been working in the new St. John’s Square showroom for the past couple of months (which is looking completely lovely by the way and we cannot wait to finally open up shop and show you all around… not long now!!! keep up with the progress over on our Instagram), so this means we’ve had a new side of Clerkenwell to enjoy and explore. It’s the side of Clerkenwell that meets with Farringdon and Smithfield, it’s got some of London’s best restaurants, charming old buildings and is brimming with culture and style.
And so many of theses restaurants and hangouts are literally right on our doorstep, walk five minutes in any direction and I promise you’ll stumble upon a place you’ll want to stay. A place like St. John bar and restaurant, run by the genius that is Fergus Henderson. This is at the top of our list of places my mum and I are desperate to go to in London, which is kind of strange seeing as my mum is a vegetarian and this place is all about meat, particularly offal. Ok, before I totally put you (and me!!) off this place, it really is supposed to be something spectacular and if there’s anywhere in the world you’ll catch me eating offal, it will most probably be here.
We’re surrounded by some of London’s loveliest buildings here in Clerkenwell. The sun was shining and I thought this abandoned old place looked so cool, can I have that great big green front door please!?
Just a few minutes down the road is one of London’s biggest and most famous meat and poultry markets; Smithfield’s Market. The market opens at 2am from Monday – Friday and is open to visitors… although it’s not necessary to get there in the middle of the night, it is recommended to arrive by 7am to see the full range of produce and market bartering in full swing. The market is over 140 years old and the building has been on site for close to 1000 years!! I’m yet to venture inside, but I love the beautifully regal and intricate gating and metalwork which runs through a huge open archway in the centre of the market.
A total world away from the hustle and bustle of trading hours, in the daytime the market is almost silent. It has a derelict, eerie vibe to it, but I like that.
A couple of minutes from the market you’ll find another of London’s most iconic spots; Fabric nightclub. As you may have heard in the news, a couple of months ago the world famous club was shutdown amid major safety fears, causing a bit of an outrage with many Londoners. But after many protests, petitions and campaigns, the club was reopened last week and there were a lot of smiley people relieved that this vital part of London’s underground music scene was back, hopefully for good! I’ve never ever been to Fabric, and I’m not sure it’s exactly my kind of thing, but I have to give one of the world’s best clubs a go at least once!
A couple of doors down from Fabric is ‘Smiths’ of Smithfield, famous for their impeccable steaks, we actually went here for our London showroom Christmas party and it was delicious. This place is huge, spread out over four floors, you’ve got a bar, a craft beer floor, a casual dining room and the top floor serves up a little more refined food with panoramic views over London.
Now we’ve spoken about Polpo plenty of times on this blog… but just in case you’ve never heard of this little Venetian paradise, you have to check it out! This is is the cute Farringdon branch, less than a ten minute walk from our new St. John’s Square showroom, it’s the perfect place for a cosy feast after your design appointment with us.
I strolled back up and under the beautiful order of St. John arch, if you squint your eyes you can just see the new showroom right in the centre of the arch. This beautiful building dates back over 900 years and has to be one of London’s biggest hidden treasures. We feel pretty proud and excited for our new deVOL showroom and home to be sharing a square and a part of London with some of the most incredible and historic parts of the city.
And I couldn’t blog about Clerkenwell without giving another little peek at the new showroom. Our ceramicist Claire handmade 300 of these gorgeous, old school green metro style tiles in our Cotes Mill studio. Now they’re up on the walls in London and sitting alongside my absolute favourite part of the showroom… the pink walls! Every single one of these tiles is unique, every little bit of texture and grain makes them special, some a little more emerald and some a little more racing green, they all sit proudly on the walls like little jewels and look as if they could have been there for hundreds of years.
The outside of the showroom is all painted now too, after doing some research on the area we discovered a very old picture of this exact building. We noticed that back then the building was painted in a lovely pale off-white shade and we knew that’s what we had to bring it back to. We chose this creamy white colour, it’s not too yellow and it’s not too grey, it’s just perfect we think. Restoring and maintaining the buildings original features is one of the most important things to us, this building has so many bits that are way too beautiful to cover up. Huw came down to hand paint the ‘deVOL’ signage and wow it looks amazing, the detail is insane and we are in love.
Well, for a quick ten minute walk around the block I feel as though I’ve been talking for a while now, so I guess I should probably stop here! There’s so much more that I could show you still, so maybe I’ll save those for another blog.
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