Architect Sir David Adjaye Hones the Fine Art of Surprise With Bronze Furnishings

“I’ve always been fascinated by an element of discovery,” says Sir David Adjaye. Just consider the AD100 architect’s 1999 Elektra House in London, whose windowless front façade belies the bright and airy family home within. Or take the 2016 Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, mysteriously veiled in lacelike metallic brown aluminum panels. At the time of our conversation, he’s referring to Yaawa, his new collection of bronze furnishings (the latest addition to his Monoform series). Smooth and sleek on top, the seemingly delicate forms bear rough, gestural backs and underbellies.

A cast-bronze table from his new Yaawa collection. 

Photo: Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery.

Comprising a dining chair and tables, the pieces debut on April 28, christening the new London flagship of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Adjaye Associates helped mastermind the three-year-long renovation, transforming the east wing of Notting Hill’s 1903 Ladbroke Hall (formerly home to Sunbeam Talbot Motorworks) into a slick arts destination. Stripped-back exhibition spaces now exist in harmony with the original Beaux Arts architecture, all the while mingling with immersive site-specific commissions from gallery artists, among them a restaurant and a boardroom by AD100 maestro Vincenzo De Cotiis, a tequila bar by Michèle Lamy and Rick Owens, and a secret garden by Luciano Giubbilei.

A cast-bronze chair from his new Yaawa collection. 

Photo: Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery.

Set against that dynamic backdrop, Adjaye’s measured silhouettes can look—depending on the angle—svelte and lustrous or sturdy and rough-hewn. Sketched, 3D-modeled, then cast, the pieces transmit what he calls “ideas of light, luminosity, texture, and the preciousness and fragility of material.” Adjaye chose bronze for both its strength and its historical associations with craft and weaponry. “It’s a noble metal that has a deep lineage and history in Africa,” he says. “With this collection, I aimed to cultivate a relationship with this history through the creation of a form and technique that also offers utility in space.”

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