Jermaine Gallacher’s new line is awash with his signature motif, finds Joanna Taylor
Haven’t you heard? The word yuppie is making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to London-based designer and curator Jermaine Gallacher. If you’re born after 1990 and haven’t a clue what we’re talking about, this phrase, coined in the 1980s, was used to describe an affluent, excessive generation of ‘young upwardly-mobile professionals’, responsible for shoulder pads, gentrification and all things preppy.
Gallacher’s use of the term, however, is far less political — and derogatory — than it was 40 years ago. Instead, he’s injecting his work with a touch of the era’s ‘ridiculousness’, which the city’s fashion set are gobbling right up. And for good reason. Eschewing traditional British interior design tropes, his refreshing take plays with unusual colour and shapes, and is what Gallacher calls ‘pretty punky, pretty glamorous and quite high energy, I suppose. I think it’s pretty lairy in a way. I’d like to think it’s elegantly ballsy.’
While Gallacher was studying illustration at Camberwell College Of Arts, one of his tutors likened his drawings to the vibrant, geometric style of the Memphis Group, which nudged him into exploring the world of interiors. ‘I then went to Paris and saw this amazing Eileen Gray show at the Centre Pompidou and I thought, “This is f***ing amazing.”’ He had, he says, ‘always preferred being in a room, being in a restaurant, over eating the food. I always liked the glamour of interiors and objects.’
Gallacher soon opened a stall at Spitalfields antiques market with friend Oliver Burslem, ‘selling wares which I was mostly buying from charity shops and other funny places at the time’. The pair managed the stall ‘on and off’ from 2006 to 2010, until Gallacher coaxed a ‘half cut’ friend into letting him hold a pop-up store in his parents’ building on Lower Marsh, Waterloo. ‘It was a mix of sourced items and things my friends had made especially for the shop.’
After a couple of other pop-ups, Gallacher set his sights on Lant Street, the home of his current Borough showroom. ‘I was drinking lots and buying wine from this amazing wine shop around the corner from where I live in London Bridge and I asked Ben Wilcox, who ran the business: “Can I put some furniture in the basement?” Eventually he said yes.’
He and Wilcox now run the space, which fully reopened earlier this week, as part showroom and part bar. Selling wares from his own wrought iron candlesticks to Rodney Kinsman chairs, it’s become a hub for local creatives that, says Gallacher, ‘is full of really fun people like Margot and Fergus Henderson. People come in with their dogs. It’s quite a glam place. I love the furniture being used because that’s the whole point.’
That’s not all he’s got going on. Bar Crispin on Kingly Street is a sanctuary for the designer’s now signature zig-zag motifs and eccentric hues. ‘It’s so nice to work on a space that people can get pissed in and have fun. That’s what I love about restaurants and public spaces, there’s glory at the end. It’s democratic somehow.’ In additon, this week Gallacher is launching a wider interiors collection.
Featuring wrought-iron bookends, shelf brackets, door handles, tables, trays and ‘anything that I can stick a zig-zag on’, the collection is available at Liberty, Paul Smith and his showroom, where you’ll find him drinking crémant and rearranging the furniture. We’ll see you there.