ISSUE 60  |  Film Fest

A Barbican Flat Goes Glamorous

February 21, 2013 10:30 AM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

Combining striking views of London with 1970s Brutalist architecture (lacking in warmth and personality for some) can pose an interesting design challenge. This English and Italian couple wanted their easily distracted guests to cease thinking of their apartment as a viewing platform; after all, this 29th floor flat in London's Barbican Center was their home.

Enter London’s most high-profile reclamation experts and designers, Retrouvius. Not only did they bring in their own mix of reworked materials and furniture, they also worked with the couple to highlight their personal artifacts; enabling them to ultimately reclaim their home.

Unless otherwise noted, photography by Tom Fallon for Retrouvius.

Above: Retrouvius used the colored spines of the couple's antique books as a starting point in determining the palette of the soft furnishings. The custom upholstery of the sofa echoes the spines of the books.

Above: Retrouvius used the graceful lines of the couple's existing standing Italian lamp to inform their choices of midcentury Italian furniture. Photograph by Debi Treloar for Ryland Peters & Small from Reclaiming Style by Retrouvius partners Maria Speake and Adam Hills.

Above: At the beginning of the project, Retrouvius brought in a selection of midcentury pieces and arranged them in different configurations to understand the various ways in which the space could be used. Photograph by Debi Treloar for Ryland Peters & Small from Reclaiming Style by Retrouvius partners Maria Speake and Adam Hills.

Above L: The colors of the large and small mosaic tiles in this 1950s boomerang-shaped coffee table inspired the tones of the upholstery in the living area of the flat. Above R: A more neutral palette sits in front of the sliding partition, made from reclaimed parquet flooring from the floor of a primary school.

Above: The parquet partition breaks down the scale of the main space by dividing it into three interlinked sections while adding warmth and color through its reconditioned rich shades of aged tropical hardwood. Retrouvius created the partition with hardwood parquet pieces that were hand sanded and applied them to an existing sliding five meter partition panel. The partition houses heating as well as reflecting warm lighting tones into the room becoming a radiator both physically and visually.

Above: The dining table was made with salvaged hardwoods that complement the tones of the parquet partition.

Above: The deep red hue in a strip along the bottom of the wall cabinets in the kitchen is also used on the sliding doors of the dining room and inspired by the colors in the rug under the dining room table. To keep things from appearing too coordinated, Retrouvius upholstered the 1954 JL Moller Model 75 chairs with different materials; red leather salvaged from Dunhill and neutral linen. Photograph by Debi Treloar for Ryland Peters & Small from Reclaiming Style by Retrouvius partners Maria Speake and Adam Hills.

Above: "Designing with salvaged materials requires vision," Retrouvius say. "What were once old scuffed floors have become a sculptural feature at the heart of a sophisticated apartment." Photograph by Debi Treloar for Ryland Peters & Small taken from Reclaiming Style by Retrouvius partners Maria Speake and Adam Hills.

Above: Retrouvius reclaimed a Turkish flat weave rug by turning it into the headboard cover.

Above: Retrouvius sourced an elegant 1950s sideboard and mirror for the clients.

Above: The vintage Indian bedspread sets the tone and color palette of the guest bedroom.

Above L: The bathroom has been lined in reclaimed iroko hardwood and fossil limestone. Above R: The view of London that may not be so distracting anymore.

The owners of this flat are great book lovers whose collection of books were very influential in the design of this flat. See 382 images of how Books can influence the design of your home in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.