Tom Dixon at Portobello Dock

January 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

When it comes to finding new and inspiring spaces, be they restaurants, venues or delightful emporiums of whatnots, I often find myself disappointed in situ. But I am finding it very hard NOT to be excited about that which has blossomed at Portobello Dock over the past year. The development has demeurely sprung up at the no mans land end of Ladbroke Grove and added a much needed bolt hole/focus for design inspired and creative minds of the area.

Housed in a beautifully converted wharf building on the site of a former victorian good yard, this box of delights can be discovered at the lost end of Ladbroke Grove. (The unassuming entrance is easy to miss with many visitors I’m sure, flying over the Grand Union Canal headlong into Harrow road chaos and the edges of ‘edgy’ Kensal Rise). Tom Dixon has chosen a brave and interesting location for his new home which houses his collection and a carefully curated selection of other talented designers of all ilks.

At the Dock Kitchen, now a permanent fixture,  diners can enjoy an excellent menu created by Stevie Parle (ex Petersham Nurseries, River Cafe and Spotted Pig) whilst seated under Tom Dixon signature copper shades and surrounded by the ghosts of punk rockers who left their hearts and hopes in the former Virgin recording studios. I can’t think of anywhere else where so many energies, present and past, collide and conspire to create such an excellent eaterie and inspiring shopping experience.

Favourite pieces include Tom Dixon’s Etch candle holder (£30)

Tom Dixon’s Bronze Copper Shade (£285)
The ridiculous but divine Dada candle from Cire Trudon, Europe’s oldest candle maker. With notes of eucalyptus buchu leaf, tea, mint and chamomile, it comes exquisitely presented in absinthian green hand-blown glass. The scent is inspired by the artistic literary and surrealist movement Dadaism, but I like it for being handcrafted from a secret blend of palm oil, rice, soy and coprah, and being 100% free of petrochemicals. (£47)

Bella Freud’s Ginsberg is God jumper (£200) (This reminds me how excited I am to see ‘Howl’ about the American poet, which comes out in the UK on the 7th January 2011 – you can catch it at the Curzon Soho on the 25th February.)

You can buy many of these items online, but I would recommend aesthetes go to Portobello Dock for a hedonistic hit of kaleidescopic colour and eye candy – there is more to discover here than these tantalising finds!

Portobello Dock formalises a design direction in this formerly non-descript and curious part of Ladbroke Grove that has never really known what it is. Not only with the kudos of Tom Dixon in residence but with its role as a space for ideas generation and inspiration. An easy target for labels of pretention, it does what it does well. It is an evolving space so worth keeping and eye on especially at Design Festival time 2011.

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