Built on a site that was nearly completely erased during the Blitz, the Barbican Estate is an iconic example of Brutalist architecture and is a hub of creativity, surrounded by the architecture and financial institutions of the City.
Designed by architects Chamberlain, Powell and Bon in the 60s and 70s, the trio shared an enthusiasm for modern design and were inspired by Le Corbusier and other European city architects who were looking firmly to the future.
“One of the big [elements] was that you separate pedestrians and cars,” explains Cathy Ross, the Museum of London's Director of Collections and Learning.
“So pedestrians were to walk along these raised walkways — sort of in the air — and the cars were very much on the ground.”
The official opening was back 1982, after two decades of planning, and the centre is today a Grade II listed, utopian ideal and a radical approach for urban living. The urban, brutalist style sits well with much of the furniture we buy for our customers, and it’s a huge source of inspiration for us.
Matt and I are always curious to explore life there, and so, here are a few of our favourite images that convey everything that we hold dear. Great design, buy once, keep forever furniture that's thoughtful, aesthetically pleasing and made by artists and craftspeople.
Photo: The view from inside Beatrice Wessel's - the Little Scandinavian's apartment showing panoramic views of the Gherkin.
Photographer and blogger Barbara Cilliers,of Soon Afternoon says the Barbican centre is:
"An almost futuristic landscape of poured concrete and exposed brick, sitting squarely on the fence between awe-inspiring and formidable."
Many of its residents are designers, architects and creatives - those who firmly believe brutalism is beautiful, and also suits the mid-century modern aesthetic so well.
Photograph by Soon Afternoon
Interior designer Peta Weston Interiors specialises in designing many of the apartments in the Barbican. She says:
"The scheme was aiming to appeal to a more affluent society after the drab, grey 1950s."
If you're interesting in more about the residents, photographer Anton Rodriguez photographed a selection of the Barbican's residents for a personal project, Residents: Inside the Iconic Barbican Estate, as a way of showing the lives behind the walls of this London landmark.
Eric, sitting on an Eames Lounge Chair inside his Barbican apartment. Photograph by Anton Rodriguez.
The design duo, Dosh Levien, are exciting and innovative. As Danish brand HAY says:
“Doshi Levien are designers you go to when you want a strong product,’ says Rolf Hay, brand co-founder with his wife Mette. ‘They are distinguished by their ability to create products that truly stand out, and they are incredibly original and detail-oriented in the way they think about design.” 2020 Beauty Kitchen.
Here, their incredible HAY Quilton Sofa, a quilted landscape sofa system, is shown inside their Barbican apartment.