Cultured Magazine

December 2011

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Page 77 of 115

The Golden Child Designer of the Year David Adjaye is taking the (art, architecture, design) world by storm. Beatrice Galilee steals a rare moment with the star architect in his London design studio. In 2003 a young African architect was on the front cover of every major design magazine in the UK, mopping up adora- tion from national and international critics. Adjaye Associates' Hoxton studio was at the epicentre of a minimalist-lux movement, crafting ex- quisite homes for artists and actors with his own East London take on Swiss modernism. In an industry known for its painfully slow pace Adjaye's ca- reer has been supersonic. Yet since his star has risen, he has veered away from the limelight of photogenic private houses and into the public realm. Lately he's been thinking about where his studio should be when he's 100. Adjaye Associates' imposing resume arcs from the series of one-off houses in East London. The Fog House, Electra, Dirty House are all minor landmarks in themselves. The Idea Store in Whitechapel, whose striped green façade was inspired by street markets, led him to further public projects like the smart and witty Rivington Place project space which proved style could ex- tend to modest budgets. Two major international projects—the MCA Denver and recently completed Moscow School of Manage- ment in Russia—demonstrate his interest in a certain commer- cial scale. During this time his office has expanded—'breaking America,' setting up in Berlin, New York, losing capital in the downturn and then sitting back and reassessing. We are sitting in the new studio space in Marylebone. They've only been here a month. The entirely black façade en- velops slick black interiors with a still pool of ink-dyed water di- viding the space. This is a sharply fitted suit of an office. It is conspicuously more grown up than the dusty Hoxton warehouse with cardboard models tottering on every spare surface where interviews were conducted eight years ago. Is he the same designer as in those early, heady days? "No..." He replies. Then, quickly: "Yes… Yes. No." He looks sky- ward and reflects. "We're at that middle stage now. We're no longer kids." Born in Tanzania, Adjaye has lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Beirut, Lebanon; and Cairo, Egypt, with his family before settling in London and studying architecture at the Royal College of Art. These twin cores, Africa and art, are channelled continually throughout his work and it is significant in his work that he has nurtured his identity as a black African architect with projects in London for an arts centre for Stephen Lawrence, a teenager mur- dered in a notorious race crime. Another recent project is the Na- 76 CULTURED David Adjaye

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