Next month the The Crown Estate and Oxford Properties will unveil a series of public artworks in their new £400m landmark development St James’s Market. Renowned artist, David Thorpe, and leading design studios, Studio Weave and Studio Swine have created installations as part of the redevelopment of St James’s Market. The artworks will create vibrant, distinctive areas around the scheme drawing on the area’s historic reputation for master craftsmanship, contemporary art and best in class retail for inspiration.
The artworks have been commissioned as part of the cultural strategy for St James’s Market, which occupies the area between Regent Street St James’s and Haymarket. This strategy has been devised in collaboration with leading cultural consultancy Futurecity, which has curated the artwork commissions and the installations as the redevelopment progressed. An embedded artwork designed by David Thorpe for the Regent Street St James’s section of the redevelopment will mark the artist’s first permanent public art installation. Thorpe is a passionate advocate for pattern and decoration and the five panels he has created for St James’s Market illustrate this.
The three large-scale exterior panels made from handmade encaustic tiles repeat a pattern inspired by the work of the 19th century Arts and Crafts bookbinder TJ Cobden Sanderson. The soft glow emanating from the centre acts as a guide inviting the visitor to move forward and investigate the site further. In contrast, the two interior pieces are made of an intricate lattice in laser-cut leather laid over a Corian panel. Inspired by early 17th century fabrics, the bespoke pattern developed by Thorpe references the exquisite detail found in clothing that might have been seen on the traders when St James’s Market first sprang to life in the 1600s.
Studio Swine practice research-led design, creating work that is a product of its location, culture and resources, regarding design as a tool for place-making. The team has designed four benches – Shirt, Tie, Pipe and Shoe – which all reference traditional trades found to this day in St James’s. Studio Swine found inspiration working with St James’s heritage brands such as shirtmakers Turnbull & Asser and shoemakers Lobb. The extensive leather collection at Lobb’s inspired the bronze inlays of shoes in the Shoe Bench, while Turnbull & Asser’s paper patterns informed the design of the Shirt Bench’s folded legs. Studio Swine also created a set of occasional seating.
Inspired by looms used to make fabrics for shirts and ties the Loom Chair and Stool echo the intersecting threads of the weaving process. The final commission is a free standing pavilion from Studio Weave. “The Safe Deposite” is conceived as a location for public performances, events and exhibitions and nods to a cabinet of curiosities that evokes the design language of Victorian safe deposit boxes, of which historically there were two nearby.
The ornate interior ceiling is covered in a wheatsheaf design that alludes to the sacks of wheat historically used as currency and link with the barter and exchange of the old St James’s Market. dn&co, the placemaking specialists, have created the inaugural exhibition for this pavilion. The exhibition delves into the story of St James’s Market and connects the present day back to the tale of The Handsome Butcher of St James’s Market, an 18th century broadside ballad. dn&co has worked closely with illustrator James.
St James’s Market is the latest redevelopment project to come forward as part of The Crown Estate’s wider strategic vision for its St James’s portfolio. This includes a £500m investment over ten years to refine and enhance the built environment and re-establish the area as a world-class retail, business and lifestyle destination with inspiring culture. Source and photos Courtesy of Studio Weave.