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Made in partnership with Albion Nord, the collection pays tribute to British heritage and craftsmanship.
By Sophie Killip | October 15 2020
Situated on a 12.8-acre site in the heart of London, Chelsea Barracks is a historic piece of land that had previously been out of public reach for over 150 years. Today, however, it is being transformed into one of the world’s most desirable neighborhoods, comprising a rare collection of residential properties, amenities, and green spaces, developed by Qatari Diar.
On top of creating a range of pristine residential addresses, this fall Chelsea Barracks has launched a new collection of elegant, British-made furniture and homeware. Behind the design of the Chelsea Barracks Collection is luxury interior design specialists, Albion Nord, who were also tasked with leading the interior design for two of the development’s six-story townhouses.
“The [interior design] and the Collection were created together, at the same time,” explains Camilla Clarke, co-founder and creative director at Albion Nord. “At the very beginning, as we came up for the design concept of the spaces, we had some ideas for the Collection. We thought that the Chelsea Barracks legacy was such a huge part of the development. [We wanted to] make it remain part of the house, and put it into the smaller details, as well as [create things] you can keep in the house and pass from generation to generation.”
Albion Nord has created eleven unique pieces that form the Chelsea Barracks Collection, combining durability and careful detailing with a strong focus on materiality. Each piece has been hand-made by a specially chosen British artisan and relates back to either Belgravia (the local area), the Chelsea Barracks site, Great Britain, or Georgian design. The team also chose to focus particularly on three quality materials: British oak, patinated steel/bronze, and marble.
Clarke talks us through some of the key pieces in the Collection, the first of which is The Wellington Desk. “This is a very special piece, based on the military campaign desk. In War Time, the officers would take their desks from post to post when they were moving around,” she says. “It would come in three parts – the top, the body, and the two legs. The officers would often get carpenters to personalize their desks to them, “so we thought we’d personalize the desk to Chelsea Barracks with the addition of the Chelsea Barracks logo in the key.” Made from dark British oak, the Wellington Desk also features bronze lion paw feet and is lined with leather.
Another notable piece from the collection is Barracks Bench, which Clarke mentions is inspired by the well-known Thebes stool. “This piece focuses on British craftsmanship,” she reveals. “Our craftsman said it was one of the hardest pieces he’d ever had to make! But it looks so simple in design, [which shows his skill] with making it.” An upholstered seat on the Barracks Bench has been finished with an exclusive light linen, the Wren Fabric, which one of two fabrics designed for the Chelsea Barracks Collection.
“The pattern is taken from the Royal Hospital Chelsea — it’s the exact footprint of the RHC,” Clarke explains. “Christopher Wren was the architect behind that, which is why we called it the Wren Fabric.” The other fabric in the Collection is the Garrison Fabric, a heavy linen with a navy blue design. The Garrison Fabric draws its inspiration from the pattern on the ceramic tiles in the Garrison Chapel, a unique Grade-II listed military Chapel that has been restored as part of the ongoing development.
The Chelsea Barracks Collection also includes smaller furniture pieces, such as the Belgravia Lamp and the Elizabeth Side Table. “The Belgravia Lamp is made of honed Mocha Crème limestone [for a subtle finish], and based on the classical proportions found in architecture, so it’s very balanced and perfect,” Clarke says.
The Elizabeth Side Table, meanwhile, is “based on the Georgian tea table, which was really fashionable back in the day. Everyone had a tea table; it was like a tripod, so we’ve simplified that form and made it into the cone shape. It’s made of English Pippy oak, which will be unique in every single one that’s made. They have all the character of the timber they come from.”
The Collection is not limited to furniture either — Albion Nord has created two homeware options as part of the bespoke range. The first of these is the Radnor Tableware, a porcelain collection of tableware including a dinner plate, cereal bowl, side plate, soup bowl, and mug. The tableware honors the heritage of the Chelsea Porcelain Industry, which was the first well-known pottery manufacturer in England. Each piece has been “hand made by an artisan in Sussex,” says Clarke. “She makes every single one; they’re completely unique while being unified.”
The other homeware set in the Chelsea Barracks Collection is the Westminster Glassware, a set of clear glassware with an optic finished twist. The Westminster Glassware collection comprises a hand-blown red wine glass, white wine glass, and tumbler. “[It’s] based on Georgian glassware,” Clarke mentions. “Each one is hand blown so they’re all slightly different. I think, as with all the pieces we’ve made, [the glassware would] fit into anyone’s home, whether that home is traditional or contemporary.”
The Chelsea Barracks Collection offers a unique purchase for both residents of the development who might want a tangible piece of the Chelsea Barracks story, and those individuals who have an interest in design, high-quality bespoke furniture, and homeware. Made to order directly from the designers, each piece is bespoke in its own right, from its conception through to being created by a master craftsman. The Chelsea Barracks Collection is also the first time that Albion Nord’s designs have been made available for purchase, making the Collection all the more exclusive.
As Ottalie Stride, creative director of Albion Nord, comments, “Our aim was to create a range of furniture, lighting, and accessories in partnership with Chelsea Barracks, that demonstrates our mutual respect and understanding of the need for context and tradition. We’ve selected the best-in-class British artisans whom we have developed relationships with throughout our careers, to bring together the old and the new to create carefully balanced, unique and timeless designs that can be used to furnish properties across the world.”