The London Design Festival, with its up-to-the-minute design inspiration, may have come to an end, but design retailer SCP will continue to showcase some of the best in design, fabric and furniture – as it has done for the past 30 years ever since founder Sheridan Coakley first came up with the concept
In 1985 Sheridan was ‘selling what is now called vintage furniture in Notting Hill. I used to go over to Shoreditch and on one of my visits I saw that a building was empty’. The building proved to be the ideal launchpad for Sheridan’s company, SCP, which aimed to create and stock functional and beautiful products. SCP East has remained a leader of the area, but like all good businesses, Sheridan was keen to expand. Understanding the hassle of the commute for some of his clients ‘we thought West London. So, it’s East and West’. Simple logic, outstanding business sense.
It was in 2007 that SCP landed on Westbourne Grove, which Sheridan describes as ‘an interesting street, and always has been. The Westbourne Grove location is a slightly smaller shop, so we’re a bit more focused. The intention was to show the more important pieces because of the space.’
Space aside, SCP chooses to always hand select the best of the best. ‘We’re not like a department store, but we will have two or three things that we’ve chosen that we like that, for example, would fit into a kitchen,’ Sheridan explains. ‘We might have one bottle opener, but we think it’s the best one you can get.’ Exploring the store you don’t find an abundance of redundancy, which contributes to the fresh, modern feel.
Though specific in what products they’re after, SCP is far from monotonous, unlike the world of design when it all began. ‘When I first started people would only buy everything in black and white,’ Sheridan smiles. ‘Everything was minimal. It’s just colour now, much freer.’ Sheridan credits the media for the shift in popularity from tedium to vivid, ‘like the fashion business in the 60s in the UK, the media talked about it, and said it was okay to wear a Mary Quant dress, so people would buy a Mary Quant dress.’ The media is often referenced with negative connotations, but according to Sheridan ‘the media is quite clever at saying and working out what is good and bad, and showcasing what is good. Media has had a massive influence, particularly in design’.
Like the relationship between media and design, Sheridan has a familiar relationship with the designers he chooses to house in SCP. ‘It’s unusual for us to work with someone we’ve never met. There’s always some connection, which might sound a little cosy, but that’s how it tends to be. You get to know someone; working with them is quite a complicated relationship, and you need to have some kind of preamble to it. You tend to gravitate to a person because of what they’ve done before.’
When asked about what trends are popular in households at the moment, Sheridan responds: ‘People are being more adventurous. It was a very different world we lived in; it was that warm beer and cricket attitude to England – that’s really changed. People now want modern furniture and modern interiors. There’s nothing better than modern because you don’t have drafts. People are much more confident about choosing their own pieces now, and being a bit bolder. Colour and pattern are back.’
So, how will SCP celebrate the big 3-0? ‘We’re going to do two or three major things,’ Sheridan reveals. ‘One of them will be a retrospective exhibition at SCP East, and we’re hoping to do a big project with a lot of the designers I’ve worked with over the last 30 years.’
The London Design Festival may be a burst of what you can expect from the capital’s design innovators, but as SCP shows you can experience it all year round. London is, as Sheridan aptly concludes, ‘the Van Gogh of contemporary design’.
SCP West, 87 Westbourne Grove W2 4UL; 020 7229 3612; scp.co.uk
By Gabriella Werre