From June onwards, London’s newest arts and cultural destination will gradually unfurl its west wing with a taster of its vibrant cultural programme
Photography courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery featuring Zanine Caldas, Namoradeira, mid 1970s Pequi Wood
Words by Joe Lloyd
It has become almost a cliché to say that the wall separating design and art has begun to crumble. But this cliché is born from truth. The past two decades have witnessed the inexorable rise of design galleries, showcasing limited editions and cross-disciplinary collaborations, elevating objects d’art to the status of fine art and freeing designers from the demands of wide-scale production.
Few people have done more to effect this than Loïc Le Gaillard and Julien Lombrail, founders of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Beginning with a small unit in, as the name suggests, a carpenter’s workshop in Chelsea, the childhood friends have opened a string of galleries around the world specialising in collectible design.
Now, the pair have opened their grandest flourish yet. They have transformed Ladbroke Hall, an 43,000sq ft Edwardian building in North Kensington, into a centre for art, design and much more besides. Erected in 1903 in grand beaux-arts style, Ladbroke Hall has the grandeur of a museum or municipal government seat. But it already has a commercial and industrial origin.
Photography courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery featuring the team and founders Loïc Le Gaillard and Julien Lombrail
It was built as the headquarters of the Clément-Talbot, an Anglo-French car company. The hall served as offices and a showroom, with now-demolished assembly sheds at the rear. It served its original function until after the world wars, and in the 1980s it was converted into television studios.
This April, a new flagship Carpenters Workshop opened in the building’s east-wing. The gallery includes four main exhibition rooms, artist-designed salons by Ingrid Donat and Vincenzo De Cotiis and a jewellery showroom, plus a private terrace by the celebrated product designer Robert Stadler. The initial exhibitions include a retrospective of the great Brazilian designer and architect Jose Zanine Caldas and a new collection by Sir David Adjaye, who supervised the design of the galleries.
This is only the beginning. Le Gaillard and Lombrail intend Ladbroke Hall to be a multi-pronged cultural hub. From June, the west wing will begin to open. It will include space for theatre, musical performance and art exhibitions, with a focus on young talent and local creatives.
Photography by Billal Taright featuring Sir David Adjaye at the new London flagship of Carpenters Workshop Gallery
In September, award-winning chef Emanuele Pollini will open his first London restaurant. Outside there will be a garden sanctuary designed by Chelsea Flower Show winner Luciano Giubbilei, with a dining pavilion based on a design by the modernist architect Jean Prouvé. And finally, Adjaye will work on a contemporary extension the founders have described as a ‘design chapel’.
It would be fair to say that London has never before seen such a shrine to collectible design, nor an attempt to integrate it across disciplines. Carpenters Workshop has set itself an ambitious plan. If it comes off, west London’s cultural offering will be immensely enriched.