This week non-essential shops are re-opening after lockdown. Hurrah! So I am taking this opportunity to launch the first in a series of My Favourite Showrooms.
I’m starting with bathroom showrooms as two stunning new venues opened recently. And, although I have only been given virtual tours so far, I hope this will give you a taste of what to expect when you venture out and about once more.
Last week VitrA officially opened VitrA London a new 5,600sq ft flagship space in Clerkenwell. The company hopes the new showroom will act as a creative hub for architects and designers with its dedicated areas for product specification, events and workshops.
The showroom was designed by architectural practice TP Bennett and occupies two floors of the Turnmill Building, on the site of the former Turnmills nightclub (the first club in London to be granted a 24 hour licence).
No all-night ravers remain, but there is a choice array of VitrA’s designer bathroom ranges, created in collaboration with the likes of Ross Lovegrove and Arik Levy as well as a functioning brassware display. On the lower ground floor you will find a dedicated specification space and an immersive 4D theatre where visitors can use virtual reality headsets to visualise bathrooms as they are designed.
Back in February, I took a virtual tour of the gorgeous new Gessi showroom on Farringdon Lane. Gessi’s first dedicated London showroom is housed in the impressive Old Sessions House, an 18th century courthouse, built in the Palladian style and Grade II listed.
Casa Gessi London pays homage to the distinct architecture of the building whilst presenting contemporary taps, shower fittings, basins and wellbieng concepts. The original prison cells, which extend across the ground floor, now house product displays, and there is a networking area, bar and lounge for informal meetings.
I have long been a fan of the Aston Matthews bathroom showroom on Essex Road, Islington. Aston Matthews is still a family run business and you can feel this in the friendly, helpful attitude of the sales staff.
Aston Matthews was founded in 1823 and boasts the largest selection of new cast iron baths in Britain. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they only sell traditional fittings. Contemporary sanitaryware and a diverse range of brassware and accessories are here too (they have an impressive selection of unlacquered brass taps with matching shower fittings and accessories). The company also has a large warehouse so, if you are on a tight deadline, they are able to supply many items fast, from stock.
When I lived in South London I bought all the bathroom fittings for my first house renovation from C.P. Hart at Waterloo. There are now C.P. Hart showrooms nationwide, but I am still particularly fond of the original outlet under the railway arches.
The showroom is well worth a visit, particularly since a café and bar area was added a few years back providing a great space to discuss projects with clients. And if you are in need of inspiration, there are also over 40 room set displays to peruse.
The West One Bathrooms showroom at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, is a vision of cool tones and sophisticated finishes. Always worth popping in to see what’s new when you are at The Harbour.
But, like VitrA and Gessi, the company has also recently opened a new showroom in Clerkenwell. I have to admit I haven’t had the chance to visit yet – in real life or virtually – but it sounds interesting.
The new showroom covers three floors and is the first in a series of ‘Studios’, which will see West One Bathrooms adopting a different approach to its customers. A mood board and portable concept places emphasis on texture and finish, whilst the studio also provides a select number of bathroom displays and accessory ranges.
p.s if you are wondering why so many bathroom showrooms are opening in Clerkenwell and Farringdon, it is because the area boasts the highest concentration of architects in London