Angel Monzon, creative director at the Vessel Gallery, speaks to Katie Avis-Riordan about his affection for Notting Hill, the London Design Festival and his distaste for French nondescript fashion brands
Angel Monzon has been in love with Notting Hill ever since the opening of Vessel Gallery here in 1999, but, like within any significant relationship, there are always ups and downs. ‘Certainly, there are too many handbags and shoe stores for my liking, plus an “invasion” of French nondescript fashion brands, but it is still the best place in London,’ he insists with aplomb, talking to me ahead of the London Design Festival. ‘The architecture, the parks and of course the people make the place. There are many creative people still living in the area’.
Angel’s Kensington Park Road gallery is very much part of this creative aspect of the locale, but stands out as fairly unique being a gallery of design. ‘There are not many design, lifestyle or art galleries in and around Notting Hill,’ he explains. ‘But you find some important interiors and architecture offices that are the core of our business. I think fashion rather than art and design is a much stronger discipline in the area.’ Previously focusing on gifts and crockery, Vessel Gallery now mainly specialises in glass art, decorative lighting and hand-crafted artworks.
The Swedish-born Angel is particularly excited at the moment as the gallery is getting involved in the London Design Festival, which is taking place this year from 13-21 September with over 300 different events and exhibitions happening throughout the capital, each celebrating and promoting the world of design. ‘We are always very excited,’ Angel enthuses. ‘It is the highlight of the year, something we spend months planning and we have been part of it since the very beginning’.
Bland French fashion products aside, the creative director believes London is the perfect setting for the festival, stating that the city is the design capital of the world and draws in aspiring designers, artists and creative types from across the globe. ‘I came all the way here myself to study design over 20 years ago and people still do in their thousands. Most of the creative director roles around the world are held by British design educated individuals, both in fashion, product and interior design. London, as in any other metropolitan city around the world, brings out the survival instinct in you but it is all down to the education that is freer and more creative, yet also rooted in history and craftsmanship. There are many other cities on par like Antwerp or New York, but London draws people from a global community and that gives its unique culture and style’.
During the festival, the store/gallery is hosting two parallel exhibitions. The main one, Ten by Two, is an exhibition of artistic limited edition vitreous enamelware bowls by Hannah Dipper and Robin Farquhar. Ten by Two marks ten years of collaboration by Hannah and Robin, the designers behind People Will Always Need Plates. Angel articulates that ‘it is a very ambitious project’. One of the gallery’s artists is also doing a major glass installation at the V&A museum in South Kensington, which hosts plenty of exciting showcases during the London Design Festival.
In addition to being part of the festival himself, Angel is very much looking forward to the events in and around the Notting Hill area. ‘A spectacular event is always whatever Tom Dixon does in his showroom at The Dock and the inaugural event at the Queens Park Design District led by Bill Amberg is something I look forward to’.
Asking Angel about his views on what designers can bring to an area he proclaims: ‘Designers are fun, they are colourful and can transform and area in unexpected ways.’ Notting Hill is very much a case in point.