a monthly round-up of the world's best interiors and design stories
Wednesday 16 Oct 2013
From the stuffed deer in "the conservatory" to an "inside-outside shed", it's clear iQ Shoreditch is student accommodation like no other.
Not only have the 24 common rooms and public spaces here been imaginatively created by interior designer (and author and television presenter) Naomi Cleaver, this state-of-the-art development is the first of its kind for developer, Quintain.
"We are setting a new baseline for quality student accommodation within central London," said developer James Crow. "My strategy was to reflect the famously vibrant character of Shoreditch - already a mecca for young people - as well as creating a comforting sense of home for a diverse community of students from across the world," said Naomi. "Student accommodation is as much an expression of home as anywhere else but much of the student accommodation I had researched looked corporate to me. While security and efficiency are important so is nurture and play."
"We decided the use, as well as the look and feel of the rooms, and commissioned young designers and artists to realise the schemes."
"Students study very different subjects so as well as the usual study rooms I designed an Art Room with large tables for art, fashion and design students to work on, with the walls lined with pinboard material, and a music room which one music student has told us is the best practice room in any educational building in London."
"We also designed a number of dining rooms which have become some of the most popular rooms."
Examples of where context, as well as purpose, provided Naomi with inspiration abound here: the "visual anarchy" of the locale is represented in a subverted Oxbridge University Common Room while the local "pavementscape" designed by architects Tonkin Lui was the reference point for the Reception area. The reception features circular leather seats and trees, which neatly ties into some of the motifs designed by the architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, such as "living walls" in the adjacent courtyard.
The Sky Lounge features a time-lapse depiction of the accumulation of flight paths across London during 24 hours in string art. The night sky is described by a ceiling-mounted installation of copper rods for instant star identification.
"Resourcefulness is key to my practice, as is local manufacture, where possible," said Naomi, who furnished study rooms with reclaimed desks and chairs, complete with ripe graffiti, and papered walls with rejected and misprinted sheets of a Shakespeare play. Stuart Scott was commissioned to make the circular leather seating in the Reception, whilst British design team Hendzel and Hunt produced the panelling and fireplaces in the main common room. Debbie Smyth and Forgeability built a boardroom table designed to split apart to create individual "stations" or remain wheeled together to make one large surface.
Student Amani Soboh says "It's pretty much the best student accommodation I think I've seen."