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MEET DEPTFORD’S MOST EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN GROUP

The spaces beneath the Grade II-listed arches of Deptford station have been transformed into new bars, retail spaces and studios named Deptford Market Yard. But that’s not all: the arches are now also home to the workshops of Aldworth James & Bond, a design studio that is cementing Deptford’s status as one of London’s most exciting areas…

The team at Aldworth James & Bond are a clever bunch of creatives who specialise in designing, crafting and building ‘beautiful things’ – from stunning, seamless joinery for the home and one-off pieces of furniture, to art installations for the London Design Festival and mind-boggling feature staircases. It bills itself as a ‘multidisciplinary’ design group, and is headed up by co-directors Tim Hill, Nik James and Del Bond.

‘We came to this area because we needed the space,’ explains Creative Director Tim Hill. ‘We moved here five years ago, before Deptford became quite as up-and-coming as it is now. It was either that or going further out of London, but we wanted to feel part of it all. You can’t move for bumping into a designer in west London, but here, we can draw our pool of talent from New Cross and Goldsmiths. It just makes sense.’

The studio is growing fast, with a dedicated team of interiors, landscape and graphic designers, landscape designers, and graphic designers, plus a few construction gurus too. For this year’s London Design Festival (LDF), Aldworth James & Bond worked with architect Asif Khan to design a series of floating pavilions in Shoreditch in collaboration with Mini.

‘The theme was the future of city living,’ explains Hill. ‘The idea was to take normal building materials up to their maximum potential. There’s no visible fixings and they float, layered in different orientations. Our LDF projects have involved a lot of prototyping with aluminium and polycarbonate – we even worked with a botanist.’

This demonstrates their design philosophy perfectly. They also worked with wood on The Smile, the headlining timber structure for this year’s LDF (in the shape of, yes, a smile), which was designed by Alison Brooks Architects and Arup along with the American Hardwood Export Council, and installed at the Chelsea College of Art. ‘We’re not about conceptual projects that never get built,’ emphasises Hill.

We’re not about conceptual projects that never get built

Applying traditional techniques to contemporary design has served them well, and it shines through in their work for Nanban, MasterChef winner Tim Anderson’s new Japanese izakaya in Brixton. ‘The restaurant has been stripped back to reveal amazing old features,’ says Hill. ‘We experimented with the stools and furniture using cork pressed onto ply. They wanted super-cool, pared-back furniture – they didn’t want to buy anything off the shelf.’

Hill himself studied on the UK’s first Sustainable Product Design course at Falmouth College of Art. The trio started out together first at college and then ‘working from a garage’. As well as their impressive ‘artier’ schemes, the kitchens and wardrobes of their residential projects have a high-end finish that benefits from their experimental approach.

 

‘A few years ago, people just wanted traditional joinery in the home,’ explains Hill. ‘Now, we apply that in a more contemporary way. Experimental design in retail and public spaces is feeding back into the home. We’ve seen a huge growth in people incorporating corian, metals and plastics into their kitchens and bathrooms.

‘Dividing up wood and metal work can stifle creativity. We wanted to be able to do both – hence the new metal workshops,’ Hill continues. ‘Even with something as simple as a cupboard, it means the way the brass handle is integrated with an oak unit is far more refined.’

We love the examples of their solid oak fittings, but for those who prefer a whiter, brighter look, the white stained birch ply is equally appealing. After a tour of their studios and workshops, I come away wondering if there is anything Aldworth James & Bond can’t make, as well as a serious case of kitchen envy

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