‘It’s a space to explore light and shadow,’ says Hannah Plumb, describing the new PSLab lighting showroom that has just opened in London. ‘A blank canvas, made to project, examine, to touch and feel,’ she adds. Plumb and James Russell are the artistic duo behind JamesPlumb, the 10-year-old creative studio that produces enigmatic environments and objects that often blur the lines between art and design. Founder of Beirut-born lighting brand PSLab, Dimitri Saddi, called upon the pair to renovate a late Victorian warehouse in Bermondsey and turn it into the UK’s first PSLab outpost. ‘We collaborated with JamesPlumb a few years back on Aesop’s Lamb’s Conduit Street store and we just clicked. We decided they would be the perfect choice to design our London home,’ says Saddi.
True to form for JamesPlumb and, it turns out, PSLab, you can expect the unexpected. This is no ordinary, brightly lit showroom packed with fixtures and fittings – it’s far more experiential than that. As Russell says of the stripped-back open-plan warehouse:‘there’s a garden, there’s a kitchen, there’s a dining room and there’s the atelier, which is a library. It doesn’t scream lighting showroom.’
Instead, PSLab’s aim was to ‘provide a stage for the exhibition and explanation of light and optics’. Hence the custom-designed gantries, which enable the team to theatrically demonstrate the endless spectrum of optic possibilities and effects they can achieve with light.
JamesPlumb has focused on materials to harness this fluid approach, playing with the sunken pits leftover from the building’s tannery past, and creating a Brutalist-like internal concrete landscape of varying levels, which is enlivened by timber and greenery. Flexible and expansive, surfaces blend and morph – floors become seating, tables become chairs and seats merge into steps. In the ‘library’, components and elements are displayed like oversized jewellery for architects and designers to experiment with.
Saddi likens the space to a kitchen ‘with all the raw ingredients on display’. An open-minded approach that, judging by the design luminaries that PSLab has worked with, such as Thomas Heatherwick and Vincent Van Duysen, is sure to be a recipe for success. pslab.net; jamesplumb.co.uk
This article was featured in ELLE Decoration December 2019
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